If you’re looking for a more long-term alternative to regularly shaving or waxing your underarm hair, you may be considering armpit laser hair removal. This procedure works by destroying hair follicles for up to several weeks, so they can’t produce new hairs.
Before you book a laser hair removal appointment, though, it’s important to understand all the benefits — and potential risks — associated with this cosmetic treatment.
Also, while laser hair removal can give you longer lasting results, this procedure isn’t permanent, and it may be painful for some people.
Unlike shaving or waxing, laser hair removal damages hair follicles so that they won’t produce new hairs. This can lead to fewer, less noticeable hairs for a longer period of time.
The potential benefits of this procedure include:
- fewer underarm hairs
- hairs that grow back lighter in color
- less coarse texture of hairs
- slower hair growth overall
How long does it take to see results?
You may notice finer or fewer hairs after your laser hair removal procedure. Overall, it can take three to four sessions to achieve your desired armpit hair results, due to the stages of individual hair growth.
Keep in mind that, while laser hair removal is marketed as “permanent,” you will likely need follow-up treatments in the future to maintain your smooth underarms.
You may need maintenance treatments every 6 to 12 months, or whenever the hair regrows.
An armpit laser hair removal procedure is done in the following steps:
- First, your professional will clean the treatment area and apply a mild anesthetic cream, if needed. You’ll be given protective eyewear for the rest of the procedure.
- Next, the professional will place a device that contains a beam of light over the armpit area. This light heats up the hair follicles, causing damage, so they don’t produce new hairs like they normally would. Overall, the process may be completed in just a few minutes.
- To minimize pain and other side effects, your professional may apply a cooling gel or spray to the underarms.
You’ll go home the same day of your procedure. Your professional may recommend applying cool compresses or ice packs to the underarms as needed. If severe swelling occurs, you may be prescribed a topical steroid cream.
To maximize the benefits of armpit laser hair removal, it’s important that you see a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeoun for this procedure. Doing so may minimize your risk of possible side effects of laser hair removal, such as:
- redness or irritation
- scars (this is rare)
As with other cosmetic procedures like chemical peels, laser hair removal may increase your sensitivity to the sun. While the underarm area isn’t typically as exposed to the sun as other areas of the body, make sure you wear plenty of sunscreen as a precaution.
Temporary pigmentation changes are another possible side effect you may discuss with your dermatologist. This may present itself as light spots on dark skin, and dark spots on light skin.
Overall, darker skin tones are more vulnerable to pigmentation changes.
The underarms may be more prone to pain from laser hair removal compared with other parts of your body. This is due to the fact that armpit skin is much thinner.
While the pain is said to only last a few seconds, you may want to consider your pain tolerance before making your appointment.
To help minimize underarm pain, your dermatologist may apply a small amount of anesthetic cream prior to laser hair removal. However, due to possible long-term risks, it’s best to only use these products in small amounts and when necessary.
Your professional may also recommend that you apply cold compresses to your armpits after the procedure to help ease any pain.
Laser hair removal can be used with multiple laser types. Your professional will consider the most appropriate one based on:
- its safety and effectiveness for the underarm area
- the thickness of your hair
- your skin color
- the color of your hair
It’s important to work with a professional who has experience using laser hair treatments on different skin tones.
Dark skin requires less intense lasers, such as diode lasers, to help reduce pigment changes. Light skin, on the other hand, may be treated with ruby or alexandrite lasers.
In 2019, the average cost of a laser hair removal session was $287.
Keep in mind that your exact cost may depend on the location and your professional. You may also need multiple sessions spaced over several weeks to get the results you’re looking for.
As a cosmetic procedure, armpit laser hair removal isn’t covered by medical insurance. However, you may be able to bring down your overall cost with a payment plan, specials offered by your professional, or financing.
Be sure to talk with your professional about the total expected fees ahead of time.
Laser hair removal may be performed by either a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon.
Many offer free consultations, so you may consider talking with more than one professional until you’ve found the right fit.
During your consultation, you may ask about the professional’s experience, credentials, and possible portfolio of work. This is also a good time to ask about any concerns related to side effects and the results you’re looking for.
While your doctor may be able to refer you to a dermatologist, you can also search for a professional through the following organizations:
- American Academy of Dermatology Association
- American Society for Dermatologic Surgery
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons
Laser hair removal for your underarms may lead to longer lasting results. But the potential pain, possible side effects, and cost might not make this the best option for everyone.
You may consider other armpit hair removal methods, such as:
- Waxing. Waxing removes hair and their roots via heated wax and strips. While the results last longer than shaving, you may be left with similar side effects as laser removal, such as temporary pain, swelling, and redness.
- Wet shaving. Perhaps the easiest method of armpit hair removal is wet shaving. When done with shaving cream, you reduce the risk of razor burns and cuts. While shaving is inexpensive, you may need to shave your armpits every time you bathe to help maintain your results.
- Electrolysis. Similar to laser hair removal, electrolysis also destroys hair follicles to reduce hair growths. However, this method uses radio frequencies, which aren’t painful. Still, electrolysis is typically the most expensive option and can cause other side effects, like irritation and swelling.
- Depilatory creams. Depilatory creams dissolve hairs from the surface after application and rinsing. While easy to use, these chemical based products can burn and blister the skin, so you may consider avoiding them for sensitive underarm skin.
Armpit laser hair removal provides longer lasting results than other home hair removal methods, because the process temporarily destroys hair follicles. Still, your desired results may require multiple sessions at a higher cost than waxing or shaving.
If you’re interested in armpit laser hair removal, see a board certified professional. They’ll also be able to address concerns about possible side effects.