Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal is a medical technique that uses a focused beam of light (laser) to remove unwanted hair.

The laser absorbs the light that is emitted by a laser and targeted at your skin, causing pigment (melanin) in your hair to be destroyed. The light energy is changed to heat, damaging tube-shaped sacs within the skin (hair follicles) that produce hairs. This damage inhibits or delays future hair development.

Though laser hair removal delays hair development for long periods of time, it seldom results in permanent hair loss. To begin with, several laser hair removal treatments are required, and maintenance therapy may be necessary as well. Laser hair removal is most helpful for people who have light skin and dark locks, but it can also be used on all skin types.


Why it's done

Unwanted hair is reduced by using a laser. Treatment areas include the legs, armpits, top lip, chin, and bikini line. Unwanted hair may be treated in almost any region other than the eyelid or surrounding area. Tattoos should not be treated on skin that has been tattooed before.

Hair color and skin type have an impact on laser hair removal. The basic idea is that the pigment in the hair, but not in the skin, should absorb light. Damage to only the hair follicle rather than both the hair and skin is essential for good results.

When contrast between hair and skin color is limited, the risk of damage to the skin is greater; nevertheless, advances in laser technology have made laser hair removal accessible for individuals with darker skin. Laser hair removal works less effectively on colors that don’t reflect light: gray, red, blond, and white. Light-colored hair, on the other hand, is more difficult to remove.


Side effects are dependent on skin type, hair color, therapy strategy, and compliance with pre- and post-treatment treatment. The following are the most frequent side effects of laser hair removal:

  • Irritation and stinging can occur as a result of laser hair removal. Laser hair reduction may produce discomfort, redness, and swelling for a period of time. Any symptoms tend to go away within several hours.
  • Changes in pigment. A laser hair removal treatment might darken or lighten the treated skin. These changes may be transitory or permanent. People with darker skin are more likely to have their skin lightened than those who don’t avoid sun exposure before or after laser hair removal treatment.

Blistering, crusting, scarring, or other skin texture changes are uncommon side effects of laser hair removal. Grayness of treated hair or excessive hair growth in treated regions, particularly on darker skin, can also be severe.

Eyelids and surrounding regions are not suitable for laser hair removal due to the potential for severe eye damage.

How you prepare

Choose a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon board-certified in a specialty like dermatology or plastic surgery with expertise treating your skin type if you’re looking to get laser hair removal.

If a physician assistant or licensed nurse is performing the treatment, be sure there’s a doctor on hand to observe and assist. Be wary of laser hair removal facilities that allow nonmedical personnel to perform the procedure.

Schedule a consultation with the doctor before getting laser hair removal to see if this is an appropriate treatment option for you. The following are likely to be some of the things your doctor will do during your consultation:

  • Examine your medical history, including any medications you’ve taken and any skin problems or scarring you’ve had.
  • Consider the following questions: What are the risks, benefits and expectations of laser hair removal? What laser hair removal cannot do is what you need it to do.
  • Take photographs to be used for before-and-after evaluations and long-term reviews

At the consultation, talk about a treatment strategy and any associated expenses. The majority of laser hair removal is an out-of-pocket expenditure.

The dermatologist will also provide specific recommendations to help you get ready for laser hair removal. These might include the following:

  • Before and after radiation treatment, follow your doctor’s instructions for avoiding sun exposure. Apply a broad-spectrum, SPF30 sunscreen before going out whenever you go outside.
  • Lightening your complexion. Any sunless skin lotions that darken your skin should be avoided. If you have a recent tan or darker skin, your doctor may prescribe a bleaching cream to help you lighten it up.
  • Using depilatory creams or gels. Waxing, plucking, and electrolysis should be avoided for at least four weeks before undergoing therapy.
  • Take steps to prevent blood-thinning medicines. Before the procedure, ask your doctor about any medications to avoid, such as aspirin or anti-inflammatory medication.
  • Shaving is advised the day before laser treatment in this region. It removes hair above the skin that might produce surface skin damage from burnt hairs, but it leaves the hair shaft beneath the surface intact.

What you can expect

Typically, there are two to six treatments for laser hair removal. The gap between treatments varies depending on the spot. On areas where hair grows fast, such as the upper lip, the treatment may be repeated in four to eight weeks. Treatments for slow-growing regions like the back might be done every 12 to 16 weeks.

For each procedure, you’ll need special goggles to shield your eyes from the laser beam. If required, the site may be shaved again by an assistant. The doctor may utilize a topical anesthetic on your skin to minimize any discomfort during treatment.

What about home lasers?

Lasers that may be used at home for hair removal are now available. These gadgets might result in a small amount of hair reduction. There are no comprehensive studies comparing how well these tools work to laser hair reduction done in a doctor’s office.

Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration considers these at-home laser hair removal devices to be cosmetic rather than medical, which means they do not receive the same level of scrutiny as other medical devices. There haven’t been any significant long-term studies on how safe and effective these home machines are right now.

If you choose to utilize a home laser hair removal machine, carefully follow the instructions that come with it to help avoid any injuries, particularly eye injuries.

During the procedure

The doctor will press a hand-held laser instrument against your skin. A cooling device at the instrument’s tip or a cold gel might be utilized to protect the skin and reduce the incidence of side effects, depending on the type of laser.

When the laser is turned on, the laser beam passes through your skin and into your hair follicles. The heat from the laser destroys hair follicles, which prevents new hair growth. You could feel a warm pinprick or a sensation of cold from the cooling device or gel as a result of the intense heat.

A small region, such as the top lip, might be treated in just a few minutes. A larger region, such as the back, may take more than an hour to treat.

After the procedure

You may notice redness and swelling for the first few days after laser hair removal.

To alleviate any bother, apply ice to the treated region. If you experience a skin reaction following laser hair removal, the doctor may use a steroid ointment on the afflicted area.

Avoid sunlight and don’t use a tanning bed for six weeks after laser hair removal, as advised by your doctor. Use sunscreen every day with an SPF of 30.


Hairs do not fall out immediately, but they do shed over a period of days to weeks. This may be mistaken for continued hair growth. The continual treatments are typically required since hair development and loss follow a cycle, and laser therapy works best on follicles in the growing stage.

Hair removal is unpredictable and varied. The majority of people have hair removed that lasts a few months or even years. Laser hair treatment, on the other hand, does not ensure permanent hair loss. Hair regrows typically to a finer and lighter hue when it grows back.

You may need long-term hair reduction be treated with maintenance laser treatments.