Laser hair removal involves a somewhat lengthy process before you achieve ideal results. Depending on the size of the area you want treated, you should expect somewhere between four and seven treatment sessions, with a month between each session. Whether or not this treatment is right for you depends on what you think of these similar treatments and alternatives:
The most basic alternative for laser hair removal treatment is shaving. Shaving is extremely inexpensive, although if you factor in how much you spend on razors and shaving cream in a year versus how much you would spend on laser treatment, shaving is only somewhat less expensive than hair removal treatment. Shaving is also the most inconvenient way of removing hair, as you have to shave every day or every other day to keep skin hair-free and sometimes results don't even last all day. Unlike laser treatment, shaving also leaves you much more open to skin irritations, razor bumps and ingrown hairs.
Another option you have is waxing the hair. You can wax at home for a fairly small amount of money or you can have a spa attendant wax you for significantly more money. Although both options are initially quite cheap compared to laser hair removal, if you compare how much you would spend in a year on waxing to the laser sessions, the difference isn't that great.
Waxing is generally more painful than laser treatment and because the hair is only removed and not destroyed, results last for much shorter periods of time. You may have to wax once a week or once a month or so to keep hair skin-free. You are still also at risk for ingrown hairs if you choose to wax.
Plucking is similar to waxing in that you remove the hair at its root. Like waxing, you don't destroy the hair as you do with laser treatment; you only remove it for a week or upwards of a month. This leaves you open to ingrown hairs. Like waxing, plucking is also quite painful for a few moments after you pluck the hairs.
Besides these disadvantages, plucking is near impossible to perform on large areas of the body. Plucking may work for small areas of the body, such as the face, but it takes much more time than waxing. Since laser treatment is available even for facial hair, you can eliminate the time you waste frequently plucking these delicate hairs.
Perhaps the closest hair removal treatment to laser hair removal is electrolysis. Although you can purchase electrolysis products for use at home, you'll have a more successful treatment if you leave the work to the hands of a professional at a cosmetic clinic or a spa. With electrolysis, as with laser, hair is destroyed at the root, except that electrolysis uses radio frequency instead of intense light. You will need anywhere between 15 and 30 sessions to achieve ideal results, so in the long run, electrolysis may cost much more.
Not everyone is a good candidate for laser hair removal treatment, especially is you have darker skin or fairer hair. If you do decide to undergo the treatment, at most, you should expect 90% semi-permanent hair loss in the treated area with annual maintenance visits.