Laser hair removal is a medical procedure that uses a laser – an intense, pulsating beam of light – to remove unwanted hair. During laser hair removal, a laser beam passes through the skin to an individual hair follicle. The intense heat of the laser damages the hair follicle, which inhibits future hair growth. Laser hair removal is used to reduce unwanted hair. Common treatment locations include legs, underarms, upper lip, chin and bikini line. However, it’s possible to treat unwanted hair in nearly any area – except the eyelid or surrounding area.
Hair color and skin type influence the success of laser hair removal. For example, laser hair removal is most effective for people who have light skin and dark hair because the laser beam targets the pigment (melanin) in the hair. However, advances in technology have made laser hair removal an option for people who have darker skin.
- Precision: Lasers can selectively target dark, coarse hairs while leaving the surrounding skin undamaged.
- Speed: Each pulse of the laser takes a fraction of a second and can treat many hairs at the same time. The laser can treat an area approximately the size of a quarter every second. Small areas such as the upper lip can be treated in less than a minute, and large areas, such as the back or legs, may take up to an hour.
- Predictability: Most patients have permanent hair loss after an average of three to seven sessions.
Laser hair removal doesn’t guarantee permanent hair removal. Some hair could be resistant to the laser treatment or grow again after treatment, although the new hair growth might be finer and lighter in color.
The most common side effects of laser hair removal include:
- Skin irritation: Temporary discomfort, redness and swelling are possible after laser hair removal. Any signs and symptoms typically disappear within several hours.
- Pigment changes: Laser hair removal might darken or lighten the affected skin, usually temporarily. Skin lightening primarily affects those who have darker skin, especially if an incorrect laser is used at an incorrect setting.
Rarely, laser hair removal can cause blistering, crusting, scarring or other changes in skin texture. Other uncommon problems that can occur include graying of treated hair, or paradoxically, hair might begin to grow excessively in or around treated areas.
Laser hair removal isn’t recommended for the eyelid or surrounding area, due to the possibility of severe eye injury. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a cosmetic-plastic-surgeon and ask a free question.