Laser Procedures for Hair Removal

Laser Hair Removal

Laser Procedures for Hair Removal

Laser hair removal has become one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in the United States, ranked second behind BOTOX. Laser hair removal uses beams of highly concentrated light to penetrate select hair follicles. The pigment in the follicles absorb the laser light and it destroys the hair and follicle. Many lasers and light sources can be used for laser hair removal.

In a resent satisfaction study of patients treated with long-pulsed Nd:YAG laser for unwanted hair, 80% reported that after 6 treatments they had significant results. All participants in the study recommended laser hair removal for others.

Why choose Laser Hair Removal?

Laser hair removal is used for unwanted body and facial hair. Many people require a series of treatments over time to remove the excessive or unwanted hair. Because the laser destroys the hair follicle, it results in long-term or permanent hair removal, which lasts for years. Maintenance treatments may be required for a few clients to maintain the hair loss. Laser hair removal works best on people with dark hair and light skin, but newer technologies can target light colored hair and may be used on people with dark skin.

How do I Prepare for the Hair Removal Procedure?

You will first meet with the plastic surgeon to discuss your aesthetic goals. The doctor will ask questions about your current health status, take a detailed medical history, and conduct a physical examination. You should avoid wearing deodorant or perfumes on the day of your procedure, and certain agents that thin the blood are to be held for several days (aspirin, ibuprofen, Coumadin, and Plavix). In addition, you must avoid chemical peels, waxing, sunbathing, tanning beds, and collagen injections for 2 weeks before your procedure.

How is Laser Hair Removal Performed?

The plastic surgeon uses a non-ablative laser to perform the hair removal procedure. The doctor has you lie on the procedure table, and places special protective goggles over your eyes. A topical anesthetic is applied to numb the skin. After 15-20 minutes, the doctor moves a hand-held probe over the skin. The laser beam will pass through the skin to the tiny hair follicles, treating a small area at a time. For the upper lip or eyebrow region, the treatment only takes around 20 minutes. For a large area, such as the back, a treatment session can last several hours.

What can I Expect After the Hair Removal Procedure?

Laser hair removal is done in the office setting, so you can go home right afterwards. Expect swelling and redness of the skin, which is normal. Mild facial discomfort can be relieved using over-the-counter medicines. The doctor will also give you a topic antiseptic cream to apply. You must avoid direct sun exposure and tanning devices for one week following laser hair removal.

What Types of Lasers are used to Remove Body Hair?

For laser hair reduction and removal, a variety of lasers can be used. These include:

  • Ruby laser – This works best for fine, light hair and is the oldest type of laser for hair removal. The ruby laser cannot be used on tanned or dark skin, and only covers small areas.
  • Diode laser – This is the most effective laser for dark skin types, and it does not work as well for light, fine hair. The diode can treat large areas with fast repetition rates, which allows for a brisk hair removal session.
  • Alexandrite laser – The fastest of the lasers, the alexandrite is good for treating large body areas. The Alexandrite works best on light to olive complexions, and is the most common laser used for hair removal.
  • Long pulse Nd-Yag laser – The Nd-Yag is safe for patients of all skin colors. It can be used to treat large skin regions, and fast repetition rates allows for a quick session.
  • Intense pulsed light (IPL) – Not exactly a laser, IPL devices are laser equivalents that work by selective photothermolysis to remove unwanted hair.



Vachiramon V, Brown T, & McMichael AJ (2012). Patient satisfaction and complications following laser hair removal in ethnic skin.J Drugs Dermatol, 11(2), 191-195.

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