Unwanted facial and body hair is a common problem that can be a source of distress. Dermatologists use lasers and light sources to safely and effectively treat larger areas of unwanted hair with minimal patient discomfort and fewer complications than other hair-reduction methods. Most lasers are equipped with a cooling device that reduces the discomfort from the laser light and also protects the top layer of skin from excessive heating and potential changes in pigmentation.
How Does It Work?
Laser and intense pulsed light (IPL) devices send specific concentrated beams of light through the skin that are absorbed by the melanin (dark) pigment present in the hair follicle shafts. Because hair grows in cycles, repeated treatments are necessary to destroy the hair follicles. In general, three or more treatments are required to achieve permanent hair growth reduction.
Will it work for me?
Darker hair responds best to laser hair removal. Lighter-colored hair is least responsive, but topical medications can be used in an effort to increase effectiveness. Be sure to avoid tanning or sunless tanners and to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen for up to six weeks prior to treatment.
Are there any side effects?
The most common side effects include discomfort, swelling, and redness that last one to three days. Other possible side effects include blistering, herpes simplex outbreaks, bacterial infections and temporary skin lightening or darkening (especially in patients with skin of color or those with tans). Patients are instructed to avoid sun exposure and to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher following the procedure.