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Meredith Holt, Published December 09 2012

Laser technology reduces the need for shaving unwanted hair

FARGO - Paula Ekman no longer has to shave her legs. No razors, no shaving gel, no more nicks and cuts.

Instead, she makes an appointment once a year at Rejuv Skin & Laser Clinic in south Fargo for a laser hair removal touch-up.

“I don’t shave anymore because the hair that’s on my legs is very, very fine, it’s very sparse, it’s very light; so, do you need to shave every day? No,” the Fargo woman says.

Ekman started treatments several years ago after hearing others talk about how pleased they were with their own results, and she plans to stick with it.

“It’s just a whole different world than that stubbly feel you get by the end of the day where your nylons are catching on your legs,” she says jokingly.

Both men and women with problematic or unwanted body hair are opting for laser hair removal at several clinics in Fargo-Moorhead, and with improved laser technology, the treatments are quicker, more effective and longer lasting.

“The lasers that we worked with even 10 years ago were extremely time consuming; it was a slow and painful process, and the results were good, but they weren’t great. The new technology that’s available, we’re able to treat a large area, say, for example, full legs, we can treat in about half an hour,” says Melissa Rogne, Rejuv clinic director.

Rejuv started out with one hair-removal laser but added two more as demand continued to grow.

“In 2011, we did about 2,200 (treatments), and we’re on track to do a little over 3,000 of them this year,” Rogne says.

At south Fargo’s Image Medi-Spa, laser hair removal is in the top three services, with an average of five to 10 sessions per day, says Veseda Hoff, owner and clinic director.

Hoff, who’s been doing the treatments since Image opened six years ago, says new patients initially need six or seven treatments, though it depends on their goals.

“For the most part, average is six,” she says.

Rogne says the typical recommendation is four to six sessions, but it has a lot to do with the hair growth cycle.

“The lasers are so good now that people start to see results as soon as one session,” she says.

She calls Rejuv’s new Lumenis Light Sheer Duet Laser “the Cadillac of lasers.”

“You just fly through it. It uses a new technology that actually makes the treatments much, much, much more comfortable,” she says, adding there’s no longer a need for topical numbing cream or ice.

After a treatment, most clients can expect minor redness and swelling right around the hair follicle, but that typically subsides after the first day or so.

“In order to stir up that hair follicle, it is a lot of energy that we’re delivering,” Rogne says.

The thicker and darker the hair, the better. The laser doesn’t work as well on thin, light hair.

“It goes against what you would think. Most people think, ‘Well, the coarser the hair, the harder it is to treat.’ That’s actually exactly the opposite when it comes to laser,” Rogne says.

Rogne, who’s been lasering hair for 14 years, uses herself as an example.

“For instance, I have very light skin and I have black, coarse hair. I am the perfect candidate for laser. I’ll have better results than someone who has light-brown, fine hair,” she says.

She explains that the laser “sees” a thick, dark follicle much easier than a thin, light follicle or one that looks similar to the skin color.

“It’s like a heat-seeking missile,” she says with a laugh.

Though the laser destroys the hair it touches, new hair follicles can form with time, but Hoff says what does grow back is typically thinner and lighter.

Ekman, the Rejuv client, says she still has a little hair, but it’s fine and blond.

“What we tell our patients is we can effectively remove 60 to 90 percent of the hair permanently, but you are going to need some touch-up treatments for that remaining 10 to 40 percent that may still pop up,” Rogne says.

Both laser technicians say for men, common problem areas are the neck and the back.

“Men will get those darn ingrown hairs from underneath the chin and into that neck area, so that’s probably the most common for men, and then also on the back of their necks,” Hoff says.

Rogne says laser treatments can help reduce facial and neck irritation caused by shaving and ingrown hairs.

“Men who really struggle with pseudofolliculitis (razor bumps) from shaving will actually do some laser, just a couple treatments, on their neck,” she says.

Hoff says women most often request their upper lips, chins and bikini areas done.

“We do a ton of bikinis,” she says.

At Rejuv, Rogne says the bikini is the most common for women, followed closely by lips, chins and underarms.

“I stopped having to shave my underarms every single day,” she says of her own treatments.

Hoff says her clients, particularly women who have visible facial hair, are “ecstatic” with the results.

“It can really change how they feel about themselves. As women, the last place we want to have hair is on our chin or upper lip, for goodness sakes,” she says.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590