Laser hair removal (LHR) has changed dramatically in the past few years because technology has gotten much more sophisticated. Originally LHR was performed using IPL, or Intense Pulsed Light. IPL treatments are very painful, frequently cause burns and possibly scars and can take 12 or more treatments. IPL is not an option for darker skinned individuals or even those with tans due to the high risk of burns, and results are very inconsistent.
After using IPLs for many years we discovered that lasers are more efficient (fewer treatments: usually 8-10) and are slightly more comfortable (although still intolerable for many). Safety is improved, but still very risky for anyone with more pigment in their skin. Results are also better with lasers than IPL.
Recent advances have improved technology even further by giving us purpose-built lasers, meaning that we now have lasers that are specifically built for LHR and only for LHR. These devices have raised the bar again with regards to comfort, safety, cost, efficiency and effectiveness. Purpose-built lasers are able to destroy hair follicles with lower energy, making them safer and more comfortable. In addition, most of them have added features such as sapphire cooling tips for even more comfort. Many of them are safe for skin of all colors and some will remove 95% of hair with only 6 treatments. Bonus: because fewer treatments are needed, the newer lasers tend to be less expensive than older lasers.
With modern equipment, your treatment should be only mildly uncomfortable (we are destroying follicles, after all), but not painful. If your hair removal session is very painful, then you may be receiving a treatment at an energy level that may burn you. In this case, you are in the wrong place!
Skin Deep Laser MD recommends finding an experienced and reputable provider in your area with updated equipment. Ask questions. To be safe, you should seek out a laser vs. IPL to avoid complications. The laser should belong to the facility and not be rented (which means that the laser is exposed to jostling during the moves between renters, disrupting calibration and settings and compromising your safety) Find a purpose-built laser (for LHR and only LHR) and ask if it is under a maintenance contract. If the laser isn’t calibrated on a regular basis or is under-powered, your treatment may be dangerous, painful or inefficient.