Laser Hair Removal
A number of lasers and other handheld light devices have been
developed specifically for hair removal. These devices offer
long-lasting hair removal and some permanent hair reduction. When
the hair re-grows, it tends to be finer and lighter.
What Lasers Treat
The lasers and other light devices designed for hair removal can be
used on most parts of the body. Many of these devices effectively
treat large areas. People often choose laser hair removal for their:
When See Results from Laser Hair
When light from the laser or other light device hits a hair, the
light vaporizes the unwanted hair. A 10% to 25% reduction can be
expected after 1 treatment. Repeat sessions, usually 2 to 6, are
required to see the best results. A session is usually performed
once every 4 to 6 weeks.
In experienced hands, laser hair
removal can safely and effectively treat people with darker skin
such as this African-American woman.
The woman's chin and neck shown 3
months after 3 laser treatments.
(Photos used with permission of the
American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic
Laser hair removal
usually allows a patient to be hair-free for several months or even
years. And most people see an overall reduction in hair growth. The
hair that does grow tends to be finer and lighter in color.
If a woman wants to prevent hair re-growth on her face, she may want
to ask about a prescription cream that has been approved by the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for this purpose. With continual
use, this cream can prevent the growth of new hair on the face once
the hair has been removed.
A few dermatologists who specialize in treating skin of color have
reported that combining laser hair removal with use of this cream
tends to offer women with darker skin a quicker and more effective
solution to unwanted hair.
Possible Side Effects
Having this procedure performed by a dermatologist or other
physician who regularly uses these devices for hair removal will
significantly reduce potential side effects.
Reports of burns, scarring, skin discoloration, and other
complications have become increasingly common when this procedure is
not performed or supervised by a doctor. Serious side effects are
rare when a person is evaluated by a dermatologist and the doctor’s
instructions are followed.
After laser hair removal, some patients may experience temporary
darkening of the skin. This usually lasts about 3 months. Lightening
of the skin also can occur and lasts about 2 months. Crusting,
blistering, bruising, and scarring are rare in skilled hands.
How Long Results Last
Most people with dark hair who have 5 or 6 treatments will maintain
their results for years. Over time, scattered hairs may re-grow.
10 Questions to Ask Before a Cosmetic Procedure
Laser Hair Removal (AAD pamphlet)
Alexiades-Armenakas MR, Dover JS, Arndt KA. “Laser Therapy.” In:
Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Rapini RP et al, editors.
Dermatology. 2nd edition. Spain, Mosby Elsevier;
2008. p. 2099 and 2109-11.
American Academy of Dermatology, “2007 Media Backgrounder: Excessive
American Academy of Dermatology. “Hair
Disorders: Dermatologists Identify the Top 3 Causes of Tress
Distress.” News release issued February 6, 2004, last accessed September 29, 2008.
Calendar V and Young CM. “Combination
laser and eflornithine HCl 13.9% cream: A first-line therapy for
Fitzpatrick type IV-VI patients with excessive facial hair.”
Ort RJ. “Laser Hair Removal.” In: Kaminer MS, Dover JS, Arndt KA,
editors. Atlas of Cosmetic Surgery. United States of America,
W. B. Saunders Company; 2002. p. 179-91.
Sadick N. “Lasers.” In: Sadick, Moy, Lawrence, et al.
Concise Manual of Dermatologic Surgery. China, McGraw-Hill
Companies; 2008. p. 90-1.
All content solely
developed by the American Academy of Dermatology
Women who have excess
facial hair along with acne, irregular periods,
deepening voice, and increased muscle should be
evaluated by a doctor.