Unwanted hair growth may appear on many areas of the body including the upper lip, sideburns, chin, ears, chest, back, armpits (axillae), legs, fingers, feet, or toes and is annoying for both men and women. Lasers help eliminate unwanted hair. Large areas of the skin can be treated at one time making Laser Hair Removal cost-effective and faster than other methods.
Lasers send a low-energy beam through the skin that is absorbed by dark pigment (melanin) present in the shaft of the hair follicles. Since hair cycles as it grows, repeated treatments are necessary to destroy about 80 percent of the hairs. The currently available lasers for hair removal are: Alexandrite, Diode, Nd:Yag. Alexandrite works best on fair skin and is the best for thin hair. Nd: Yag is the safest for dark skin types.
Patients interested in Laser Hair Removal should consult a dermatologist who will make an assessment of:
- Skin type (i.e, ability to tan or to burn)
- Hair color
- Thickness and location of hair
- Presence of tan
- Previous hair removal methods
- Medical history including ovarian or thyroid disease, medications, history of abnormal scarring, history of cold sore(herpes simplex), outbreaks in the treatment area, or past Isoretinoin use
- Presence of tattoos or moles in the treatment area
After the preoperative evaluation, the appropriate laser and treatment settings can be determined.
Before treatment, patients are advised to avoid tanning and sunless tanners (Solarium). Sunscreens with SPF 50+ should be used. No plucking, waxing, or electrolysis should be done, although shaving or depilatory creams can be used. The site to be treated should be shaved the same day of laser treatment. A prophylactic (protective) oral antiviral medication may be started the day prior to suppress the possibility of developing a herpes simplex infection in the treatment area. An oral antibiotic may be prescribed if the nasal or the perianal skin is to be treated.
Darker hair responds best to the laser, while lighter hair (blond, gray or red) is less responsive.
The percentage of hairs removed per session varies in different body locations, with areas of thin skin (for example, bikini and armpits) generally showing a better response than areas of thick skin (for example, the back and chin). Approximately 10-25 percent reduction in hair growth can be expected with each treatment. Treatments are repeated every 1-2 months. The hair that re-grows tends to be lighter and finer in texture.
Laser hair reduction should be performed under the direct supervision of a dermatologist, who is a physician who specializes in the medical, surgical, and cosmetic treatment of hair and hair diseases, and who is trained to help manage hair and skin problems.