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Laser Hair Removal

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During laser hair removal, a laser emits light absorbed by the pigment (melanin) in the hair. The light energy is converted to heat, which damages the tube-shaped sacs within the skin (hair follicles) that produce hair. This damage inhibits or delays future hair growth.

Although laser hair removal effectively delays hair growth for long periods, it usually doesn’t result in permanent removal. Multiple laser hair removal treatments are needed for initial hair removal, and maintenance treatments might also be required. Laser hair removal is most effective for people with light skin and dark hair, but it can be successfully used on all skin types.

Why it’s done?

Laser hair removal is used to reduce unwanted hair. Common treatment locations include the legs, armpits, upper lip, chin, and bikini line. However, it’s possible to treat unwanted hair in nearly any area except the eyelid or surrounding area. Skin with tattoos should not be treated either.

Hair colour and skin type influence the success of laser hair removal. The basic principle is that the pigment of the hair, but not the skin’s pigment, should absorb the light. The laser should damage only the hair follicle while avoiding damage to the skin. Therefore, a contrast between hair and skin colour —dark hair and light skin—results in the best outcomes.

The risk of skin damage is more significant when there is little contrast between hair and skin colour, but advances in laser technology have made laser hair removal an option for people with darker skin. Laser hair removal is less effective for hair colours that don’t absorb light well: grey, red, blond, and white. However, laser treatment options for light-colored hair continue to be developed.

How do you prepare?

If you’re interested in laser hair removal, choose a doctor who’s board-certified in a specialty such as dermatology or cosmetic surgery and has experience with laser hair removal for your skin type. If a physician assistant or licensed nurse will do the procedure, ensure a doctor supervises and is available on-site during the treatments. Be cautious about spas, salons, or other facilities allowing nonmedical personnel to remove laser hair.

Before removing laser hair, schedule a consultation with the doctor to determine if this is an appropriate treatment option.

Your doctor will likely do the following:

  • Review your medical history, including medication use, history of skin disorders or scarring, and past hair removal procedures.
  • Discuss risks, benefits and expectations, including what laser hair removal can and can’t do for you.
  • Take photos to be used for before-and-after assessments and long-term reviews.
  • At the consultation, discuss a treatment plan and related costs. Laser hair removal is usually an out-of-pocket expense.
  • The doctor will also offer specific instructions on preparing for laser hair removal.

These might include:

  • I am staying out of the sun. Follow your doctor’s advice for avoiding sun exposure before and after treatment. Whenever you go out, apply a broad-spectrum SPF30 sunscreen.
  • You are lightening your skin. Avoid any sunless skin creams that darken your skin. Your doctor might also prescribe a skin-bleaching cream if you have a recent tan or darker skin.
  • I am avoiding other hair removal methods. Plucking, waxing, and electrolysis can disturb the hair follicle and should be avoided at least four weeks before treatment.
  • You are avoiding blood-thinning medications. Ask your doctor what medications, such as aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs, to avoid before the procedure.
  • I am in the shaving treatment area. Trimming and shaving are recommended the day before laser treatment. It removes hair above the skin, which can result in surface skin damage from burnt hairs, but it leaves the hair shaft intact below the surface.
  • During the procedure, The doctor will apply a hand-held laser instrument to your skin. Depending on the type of laser, a cooling device on the tip of the instrument or a cool gel might be used to protect your skin and lessen the risk of side effects.
  • When the doctor activates the laser, the laser beam will pass through your skin to the hair follicles. The intense heat from the laser beam damages the hair follicles, which inhibits hair growth.
  • You might feel discomfort, such as a warm pinprick, and you’ll likely feel a sensation of cold from the cooling device or gel.
  • Treating a small area, such as the upper lip, might take only a few minutes. Treating a larger area, like the back, might take more than an hour.
  • After the procedure, You might notice redness and swelling for the first few hours after laser hair removal.
  • To reduce any discomfort, apply ice to the treated area. If you have a skin reaction immediately after laser hair removal, the doctor might apply a steroid cream to the affected area.
  • After laser hair removal and between scheduled treatments, avoid sunlight and don’t use a tanning bed for six weeks or as directed by your doctor.


Hairs do not fall out immediately, but you will shed them over days or weeks. This may look like continued hair growth. Repeated treatments are usually necessary because hair growth and loss naturally occur in a cycle, and laser treatment works best with hair follicles in the new-growth stage.

Results vary significantly and are difficult to predict. Most people experience hair removal that lasts several months and might last for years. But laser hair removal doesn’t guarantee permanent hair removal. When hair regrows, it’s usually finer and lighter in colour.