What is Laser Hair Removal?
Laser hair removal is a medical procedure that uses a concentrated beam of light (laser) to remove unwanted hair. During laser hair removal, a laser emits a light that is 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 hairs. 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 hair removal. Multiple laser hair removal treatments are needed for initial hair removal, and maintenance treatments might be needed as well.
Laser hair removal is most effective for people who have light skin and dark hair.
Why is it done?
Laser hair removal is used to reduce unwanted hair.
Common treatment locations include legs, armpits, upper lip, chin and the 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. The basic principle is that the pigment of the hair, but not the pigment of the skin, 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 color — dark hair and light skin — results in the best outcomes.
Are there Risks?
Risks of side effects vary with skin type, hair color, treatment plan and adherence to pre-treatment and post-treatment care.
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 don't avoid sun exposure before or after treatment and those who have darker skin.
Rarely, laser hair removal can cause blistering, crusting, scarring or other changes in skin texture. Other rare side effects include graying of treated hair or excessive hair growth around treated areas, particularly on darker skin.