If you're not a fan of shaving, waxing, or tweezing, laser hair removal may be worth considering. This is a more permanent method of hair removal that will leave your skin hairless and smooth. It's now become a preferred trend for most people since it reduces the amount of hair growth over time. However, it costs significantly higher than other hair removal methods. So, is it worth it? How much does hair removal cost? Here’s everything you need to know about laser hair removal.
What Is Laser Hair Removal?
Laser hair removal is a cosmetic procedure that uses pulses of laser light to kill the hair follicle. When you shave, you only remove the tip of the hair follicle, while waxing removes the hair root. In both cases, hair will grow back. With laser hair removal, the hair follicle is destroyed such that it won't grow back.
According to Ellen Marmur, M.D., a dermatologist at Marmur Medical in New York City, the laser seeks out the pigment in your skin, usually found in the base of your hair follicle. Once the laser locates the hair follicle root, which houses your hair stem, it converts from light energy to heat and basically explodes it, killing the root. The hair then falls out.
Since laser works by seeking out pigment, it's crucial to time it right. You want to limit the amount of other pigments in your skin, such as that from sun exposure.
David Kim, M.D., a dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City, “patients are less likely to be tanned in winter and spring.” He adds that “If you're tanned, the energy from the laser can be absorbed by your skin in addition to the hair follicles – and cause burns or blisters and leave a disfiguring scar.”
The Laser Hair Removal Procedure
Laser hair removal treatment requires multiple sessions that last no longer than 30 minutes. While it's not technically permanent, hair doesn’t grow back as it does after shaving or waxing.
The first step usually involves consulting a professional to get an assessment of your skin type, hair type, and the type of laser best suited for you. Once the specialist determines you're a good candidate, you’ll proceed with the treatment.
It's advisable to shave the area you're treating beforehand to allow the laser to penetrate the root of the hair. The experience is usually not painful, but you can apply a topical numbing cream to reduce any discomfort.
You should know that laser hair removal works best on four areas, namely, lip, chin, underarm, and bikini areas. Typically, laser is attracted to pigment, meaning people with thick, coarse hair are the best candidates. That said, it can take a little longer to fully work on thicker hair.
What’s the Cost of Laser Hair Removal?
Laser hair removal is a beauty investment that costs more than shaving or waxing. According to the latest statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost of laser hair removal is $389 per session. Some treatments can cost as high as $1,500.
The price per session will vary depending on several factors, like the area you're treating, the provider’s expertise, the time to perform the procedure, and where you're located. While the initial cost of laser hair removal seems steep, it’s cheaper in the long run.
You won't have to use razors or take trips to the salon for wax for the rest of your life. Here’s a breakdown of how much laser hair removal costs in specific treatment areas:
Average Cost of Laser Hair Removal in Large Body Areas
It will cost more to have your laser treatment in large areas of your body, like the back or legs. Generally, you should be ready to part with around $600 per treatment in your back or legs.
Average Cost of Hair Removal in Small Areas
Removing hair from smaller areas of your body like the bikini area, sideburns, lips, and underarms is less expensive than in large areas. Typically, the bikini area costs around $250 to $350 per session.
This will depend on whether it’s a Brazilian (hair removal from the labial to the perianal areas) or a normal V-shaped bikini (hair removal from the groin areas, leaving a V or patch of hair on the mons pubis).
The facial areas like the lower face and chin can cost, on average, around $250 per session. Underarm hair removal can range between $175 to $225 per session.
What Does the Cost of Laser Hair Removal Cover?
Typically, the cost of laser hair removal includes the office visit, the application of topical anesthetic to numb the pain, the laser treatment, and post-care topical application products like sunscreen and soothing agents.
How Many Laser Hair Removal Sessions Do I Require?
You need more than one laser hair removal treatment to be completely hair-free. Someone with thinner, lighter hair will need a few sessions compared to another person with thick, coarse hair.
For most people, it takes around four to six treatments to effectively remove all the hair. The sessions are usually scheduled at four to six-week intervals. The key is to ensure you consistently attend these treatments. The best thing is that you don’t need to cancel if you're on your periods. All you need to do is use a tampon on the day of treatment.
Another important tip to keep in mind is that insurance doesn’t usually cover the cost of laser hair removal, unless in rare cases, such as patients with conditions like pilonidal cysts. However, you can always choose a flexible payment plan that you're more comfortable with.