Cosmetic Surgery Tips

FDA Approved Laser Hair Removal Machines

Unwanted hair can be permanently removed with the use of the widely used cosmetic treatment called laser hair removal. It’s critical to pick a laser hair removal device that has received FDA approval if you’re thinking about using one. With FDA clearance, you may be confident that the laser hair removal device has undergone extensive testing and satisfies all safety and effectiveness requirements. We will discuss the significance of FDA clearance for laser hair removal devices in this blog article and showcase a few FDA-approved devices.

In this guide, we review the aspects of FDA approved laser hair removal machines, which laser hair removal is best, at home diode laser hair removal, and is laser hair removal FDA approved.

FDA approved laser hair removal machines

Why Pick Laser Hair Removal Equipment That Has FDA Approval?

FDA clearance guarantees that the laser hair removal device has undergone extensive research to determine its safety. Aspects including laser emissions, energy levels, cooling systems, and user safety features are evaluated by the FDA. You may be confident in a device’s safety profile and reduce the possibility of negative occurrences by selecting one that has received FDA approval.

Efficacy and Performance: The ability of FDA-approved laser hair removal devices to stop the development of new hair is assessed. These gadgets are put through testing to make sure they live up to the promises made by the maker. By choosing an FDA-approved device, you improve your chances of getting consistent, satisfying results with hair removal.

Regulatory Compliance: The FDA is in charge of overseeing medical device regulation to safeguard public health. Utilizing a laser hair removal device that has received FDA approval guarantees adherence to legal requirements, encourages moral behavior, and upholds quality control standards. Additionally, it aids in ensuring that the item is correctly marketed and that its labeling complies with strict guidelines.

Candela Laser Hair Removal

Machines for laser hair removal with FDA approval

Cynosure Icon: The Cynosure Icon platform provides laser hair removal procedures that have received FDA approval. It makes use of cutting-edge technology, such as the SkintelTM Melanin Reader, to provide patients with customized treatment options depending on their skin type and hair color. The adaptability and efficacy of the Icon system in treating diverse skin types are well recognized.

Candela GentleLASE: The Candela GentleLASE laser system is extensively used in professional clinics and medical spas and has received FDA approval for hair removal. It has a dynamic cooling system that reduces pain while receiving therapy. The GentleLASE system is known for its efficiency in targeting unwanted hair while preserving the surrounding skin.

The FDA has given the Lumenis LightSheer laser system permission to remove unwanted hair. It incorporates high-power diode technology and uses a patented ChillTip™ handpiece to ensure patient comfort. For a variety of skin types, the LightSheer system delivers excellent hair removal.

Alma Soprano ICE: The FDA has given the Alma Soprano ICE laser platform permission to remove hair. It utilizes a combination of diode laser technology and an innovative cooling system to deliver effective and virtually painless treatments. The Soprano ICE system is renowned for its ability to treat huge areas quickly and effectively.

Cutera Excel HR: The Cutera Excel HR laser system is FDA-approved for hair removal and combines high-power laser technology with sapphire contact cooling for enhanced patient comfort. The Excel HR system provides quick and effective treatments for a variety of skin types.

which laser hair removal is best

While you might decide to get a manicure or facial on a whim, laser hair removal is one of those beauty treatments you usually have to think about before committing to the process, mainly for two reasons: the pain and the cost.

For many, zapping hair follicles with light beams can seem totally extraneous and downright uncomfortable. Others view it as a necessary luxury—think of all the time you can get back by eliminating shaving, waxing, or plucking from your beauty regimen. For those with deeper skin tones, there’s the consideration that laser hair removal may not work as well, or potentially result in hyperpigmentation. Depending on your hair and skin type, the amount on your body, and growth pattern, bidding other hair removal methods adieu can be life-changing.

Laser hair removal can be a helpful option for getting rid of body hair permanently if you’re always dealing with ingrown hairs and razor bumps. If you’re ready to dive into the world of laser hair removal, be it for your legs, bikini area, face, or underarms (some of the most popular treatment areas), familiarizing yourself with the best services is essential. Wax, shave, and tweeze no more: Here we rounded up the best laser hair removal services.

Best Laser Hair Removal Services of 2023

Best Overall : SEV Laser

SEV Laser offers an extensive menu of affordable laser hair removal services for all skin types, guided by an on-staff medical director.

Multiple locations throughout California, Texas, and New York City, as well as in Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, and Philadelphia

Medical director on staff

Less of an individualized feel

SEV Laser is a medical spa with multiple locations throughout California, Texas, and New York City, with locations also in Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, and Philadelphia.

The aesthetics boutique specializes in laser hair removal, as well as laser skin tightening, and injectables. With the expertise of the on-staff medical director Dr. Ehsan Ali, SEV Laser incorporates elite laser technology using the Candela GentleMax Pro machine, which is safe and effective for all skin types.

With an extensive menu of services, SEV Laser is one of the most affordable laser hair removal spas with playfully named services that include: full-face (the “Money Maker”), upper lip (“Never Been Kissed”) ears (“Pillow Talk”), Brazilian (“When Hairy Met Sally”), buttocks (“Full Moon”), and more.

Pricing varies based on location, but single services range from $15 for small areas like the ears, lip, and chin to $475 for full-body. Most services come in under $100, including a full Brazilian at $60. Pre-paid packages are also available.

Best for New York : Romeo & Juliette Laser Hair Removal

This New York City-based clinic specializes in laser hair removal and has 12 state-of-the-art lasers for all skin tones and complexions.

State-of-the-art lasers for all skin tones and complexions

Laser hair removal is the sole focus of the business

Romeo & Juliette Laser Hair Removal is a New York-based clinic that solely specializes in laser hair removal.

The facility is equipped with 12 state-of-the-art lasers for all skin tones and complexions and is founded by Christian Karavolas, a laser hair removal expert, vice president of the Society of Clinical and Medical Hair Removal, and consultant for leading laser companies including Deka, Cynosure, Candela, and Lumenis.

Additionally, Karavolas conducts workshops for doctors and laser hair removal professionals. He’s also an advocate for uniform education and certification in New York state and is involved in hair removal legislative matters.

Romeo & Juliette offers a wide variety of dual-wavelength lasers for all skin types and tones. This includes the Synchro REPLA:Y, the fastest and most powerful laser machine for hair removal. It also uses the Splendor X which can adjust the patient’s treatment by skin type, hair thickness, and hair color.

Laser hair removal services include the most popular target areas, including arm, underarm, face, bikini, back, and neck. But Romeo & Juliette Laser Hair Removal also specializes in ingrown hair removal and treatments for men and transgender individuals.

Romeo & Juliette Laser Hair Removal offers complementary consultation calls. If you schedule one, you can inquire about pricing and ask any questions you may have.

Best for Ultra-Personalized Treatments : Flash Lab Laser

Flash Lab laser suite is a boutique medical spa that specializes in laser beauty treatments and uses state-of-the-art equipment, including a Candela GentleMax Pro, one of the most advanced hair removal systems in the esthetics industry.

Specializes in laser services

Employs an international CIDESCO-licensed aesthetician and laser technician

Packages range from small treatment areas to extra-large

Founded by New York state-licensed esthetician and laser specialist, Kelly Rheel, Flash Lab is a boutique medical spa located in New York City that specializes in laser treatments. Laser hair removal is one of Flash Lab’s specialties, where the highly-trained staff customizes services based on skin and hair type and desired hair removal results.

For laser hair removal, Flash Lab uses the FDA-approved Candela GentleMax Pro. As one of the most advanced hair removal systems in the esthetics industry, this machine numbs the skin with cryogen to make treatments more comfortable.

Before purchasing any package, Flash Lab starts any laser hair removal journey with a complimentary consultation to ensure that customers are good candidates and ensure treatments are tailored specifically for desired results and skin type.

Flash Lab’s pricing varies. Small areas are $60 for a single session; medium areas are $100 for a single session; large areas are $200 for a single session; and extra-large areas are $300 for a single session. Packages are also available for multiple sessions. Packages are either three sessions or six sessions plus touchups and they significantly reduce your total cost versus a single session.

Best Atmosphere : Ever/Body

Ever/Body cosmetic dermatology employs a board-certified dermatologist and offers a range of medical-tested laser hair removal services for all skin types.

Board-certified dermatologist on staff

Packages range from extra-small treatment areas to extra-large

One of the more expensive choices

Founded in 2019, Ever/Body cosmetic dermatology is based in New York City and specializes in skin and body treatments, including laser hair removal. More recently, they have begun opening locations in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

On staff is Jared Jagdeo, MD, MS board-certified dermatologist, serving as chief medical officer. With a background including aesthetics, laser, and light therapy research, he provides hands-on patient education, curates medically-tested treatments, and ensures the safety of each results-driven procedure.

Ever/Body focuses on being at the intersection of health and beauty by making cosmetic dermatology more accessible with high-quality medical treatments and transparent pricing. Every service, including all laser hair removal, is usually done in an hour or less (in a highly Instagrammable setting) and can be paired with a product regimen to help your results last. (It sells top-of-the-line products from brands like SkinCeuticals and Supergoop!.)

The company says you should start to see some degree of results with hair falling out two weeks after your first treatment. However, you must get six to ten treatments to get desirable results. Treatments need to be spaced four weeks apart on the face and six weeks apart on the body.

Ever/Body’s laser hair removal is sold as a single session, three-session package, or eight-session package. For extra-small areas a single session costs $155 and an eight session package costs $1,080 ($135 per session). For small areas the single session cost is $195 and eight sessions costs $1,320 ($165). Medium area single sessions are $295 and a package of eight costs $1,800 ($225 per session). Large areas cost $395 for one session or $2,360 for eight sessions ($295 per session). Lastly, a session for extra-large areas costs $495 for a single session and a package of eight costs $3,000 ($375 per session).

Best Cosmetic Dermatology Office : Dr. Jason Emer Laser Dermatology

We chose this service because Dr. Jason Emer is a leader in the cosmetic dermatology community, renowned for his innovation and use of state-of-the-art lasers.

Founded by a board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon

Uses and innovates with top-of-the-line laser technology

Five-star service and accommodating staff

Pricing not listed on website

Dr. Jason Emer is a board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon specializing in rare cosmetic procedures and laser treatments, including laser hair removal.

Dr. Emer’s practice offers custom combination treatments to achieve patient-specific, long-term results, with five-star service; the goal is to ensure every patient feels safe, informed, and well-taken care of throughout any treatment.

Dr. Emer works with the newest state-of-the-art lasers. He begins every laser hair removal process with a consultation to best determine which lasers will produce the optimal results per patient. Then, he crafts a comprehensive and patient-specific treatment plan.

Dr. Emer uses a no-contact Aerolase Neo microsecond YAG laser, which is ideal for dark skin types and isolated treatment areas; it also targets ingrown or unwanted hairs while simultaneously minimizing pores, tightening skin, and rebuilding collagen. He also utilizes the Astanza MeDioStar NeXT PRO laser. This is the fastest diode laser technology available on the market, using a combination of wavelengths, high-frequency pulses, and advanced cooling technology to ensure greater skin penetration and safely destroy the deepest hair follicles.

In addition to laser hair removal services, Dr. Emer offers an extensive range of facial and body treatments. He has completed clinical trials on investigational treatments in cosmetic, laser, and surgical dermatology. Some of his work has prompted FDA approval for several medications and devices treating a range of skin conditions. He’s written extensively on fractional laser technologies, among other aesthetic procedures and dermatological conditions.

Dr. Emer’s pricing is not posted on the website. Contact his office for a consultation and to inquire about pricing.

Final Verdict

Bottom Line

Though laser hair removal can be costly, it’s a great option to get rid of unwanted follicles efficiently. It can ultimately save money in the long run, too. It isn’t, however, the end-all, be-all of hair removal. Though it’s undoubtedly effective at reducing hair growth, every person is different. So, depending on your hair and skin type and treatment area, laser hair removal won’t always remove every bit of hair, forever.

How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?

Laser hair removal works by creating a beam of high-intensity light to penetrate the skin’s tissue deeply. The beam of light bypasses the epidermis and targets hair follicles at the root to disable its reproductive cycle. The wavelength, pulse duration, and cooling are determined by a person’s Fitzpatrick scale skin type, including the hair follicle’s color and coarseness.

Laser hair removal typically takes about 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the area being treated. According to Dr. Orit Markowitz, an associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai in NYC, the larger the area being treated, the longer it takes, such as legs or back. “If it’s a very sensitive area, sometimes a numbing agent that takes about half an hour to an hour to take effect will be applied,” she explains. For large areas like the legs, expect your appointment to last roughly 15 to 30 minutes per session, and for smaller areas like the chin or lip, treatment will take just a few minutes.

Expect that you and your practitioner will wear safety glasses to protect your eyes during a laser hair removal treatment.

What Are the Best Lasers for Hair Removal?

Different types of lasers are used to target hair follicles and accommodate different skin tones and body areas. “The most effective is a diode laser as well as an Nd:YAG laser,” explains Dr. Markowitz. “These lasers target the pigment of hair follicles, causing eradication down to the bulb,” she says. While diode lasers can treat darker skin, Dr. Markowitz says the Nd:YAG is the gold standard and safest for minimizing the risk of post-treatment blistering and pigmentary changes.

Another laser most commonly used in spa-like settings is the IPL laser. “This laser also targets the pigment in a more gentle way,” Dr. Markowitz notes, explaining it’s the least effective of the three types of lasers. It’s important to book a consultation appointment before committing to any laser hair removal service or package to learn if you’re a good candidate for treatment, and if so, the type of laser that will be best for you and your desired result.

“Older lasers are more painful and don’t work as well,” explains Christian Karavolas of Romeo & Juliette Laser Hair Removal. The best technology right now: lasers with two wavelengths. Namely, Alexandrite Wavelength Lasers and Nd:YAG for light skin and dark skin complexions with big spot sizes and variable speed, according to Karavolas.

Who Is the Best Candidate for Laser Hair Removal?

Those with dark and thicker hair and lighter skin will typically see the best results from laser hair removal, but that’s not to say those with medium-dark hair or darker skin won’t benefit from treatment. However, laser hair removal doesn’t work on light hair. “Lasers are attracted to dark pigment or melanin, so the darker the hair follicle, the better result you will receive,” Gabrielle Hope Bradley, a CIDESCO aesthetician and laser technician at Flash Lab Laser in NYC explains.

Someone with dark skin and fine light hair would not be a good candidate for laser hair removal, according to Dr. Markowitz. The laser targets pigments and the thinner and lighter the hair and the darker the surrounding skin, the less likely the laser will be able to target the hair.

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you’re not an ideal candidate for laser hair removal, nor are people with these conditions: epilepsy, psoriasis, bleeding disorders, or vitiligo.

at home diode laser hair removal

If you’re anything like me, using an at-home hair removal device is equal parts thrilling and terrifying. I find shaving to be a tedious, ingrown-hair fueled mess, but my first foray into the world of permanent hair removal didn’t go well. After spending hundreds of dollars at an esthetician’s office, I found laser hair removal to be not effective enough to justify the pain. Because I’m someone who can easily cosplay as Snow White (pale skin, dark hair, high pain tolerance), I’m the ideal candidate for laser hair removal. But alas, I had to give it up for the sake of my sanity and my wallet.

I thought I was resigned to using a razor forever, but in the interest of science, I tried the Braun IPL Silk Expert Pro device. Not only was it significantly cheaper, less painful, and less humiliating than the salon service, but I actually started to see results quickly. For all of the many methods of body-hair removal out there—from shaving with the best razors to sugaring to waxing and everything else in between—laser hair removal (both professional and at home) is the only strategy that promises more permanent results.

In terms of technology, at-home handheld hair removal devices come in two categories: IPL or a diode laser. A majority of at-home laser hair removal devices rely on IPL—intense pulsated light—therapy, in which tiny beams of light at different wavelengths zap the bulb within each hair follicle. “In essence, it is using heat to destroy the hair follicles,” says dermatologist Dr. Marisa K. Garshick, who mentions that dermatologists also use versions of IPL for photo rejuvenation procedures (a.k.a. fading dark spots). On the flip side, diode laser technology uses one single wavelength of light, which experts say can help minimize damage to the surrounding skin and be used safely on all skin types and shades. The light is selectively absorbed by the pigment, or melanin, within the hair follicle, making it a more targeted (and often more effective) approach to hair removal.

According to dermatologist Dr. Karan Lal, it’s important to note that most at-home devices are “best suited for small to medium hairs in small areas—upper lip, chin, cheeks, bikini, etc.,” he says. “They are typically not meant for large surface areas like the back.” (There are a few exceptions, but we’ll get to that later).

is laser hair removal fDA approved

Laser hair removal is the process of hair removal by means of exposure to pulses of laser light that destroy the hair follicle. It had been performed experimentally for about twenty years before becoming commercially available in 1995 and 1996. One of the first published articles describing laser hair removal was authored by the group at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1998. Laser hair removal is widely practiced in clinics, and even in homes using devices designed and priced for consumer self-treatment. Many reviews of laser hair removal methods, safety, and efficacy have been published in the dermatology literature.

R. Rox Anderson and Melanie Grossman discovered that it was possible to selectively target a specific chromophore with a laser to partially damage basal stem cells inside the hair follicles. This method proved to be successful, and was first applied in 1996. In 1997, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved this tactic of hair removal. As this technology continued to be researched, laser hair removal became more effective and efficient; thus, it is now a common method in removing hair for long periods of time.

Procedure

The primary principle behind laser hair removal is selective photothermolysis (SPTL), the matching of a specific wavelength of light and pulse duration to obtain optimal effect on a targeted tissue with minimal effect on surrounding tissue. Lasers can cause localized damage by selectively heating dark target matter, melanin, thereby heating up the basal stem cells in the follicle which causes hair growth, the hair follicle, while not heating the rest of the skin. Light is absorbed by dark objects but reflected by light objects and water, so laser energy can be absorbed by dark material in the hair or skin, with much more speed and intensity than just the skin without any dark adult hair or melanin.

Melanin is considered the primary chromophore for all hair removal lasers currently on the market. Melanin occurs naturally in the skin and gives skin and hair their color. There are two types of melanin in hair. Eumelanin gives hair brown or black color, while pheomelanin gives hair blonde or red color. Because of the selective absorption of photons of laser light, only hair with color such as black, brown, or reddish-brown hair or dirty blonde can be removed. White hair, light blonde and strawberry blonde hair does not respond well. Laser works best with dark coarse hair. Light skin and dark hair are an ideal combination, being most effective and producing the best results, but lasers such as the Nd:YAG laser are able to target black hair in patients with dark skin with some success.[self-published source?]

Hair removal lasers have been in use since 1997 and have been approved for “permanent hair reduction” in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Under the FDA’s definition, “permanent” hair reduction is the long-term, stable reduction in the number of hairs regrowing after a treatment regime. Indeed, many patients experience complete regrowth of hair on their treated areas in the years following their last treatment. This means that although laser treatments with these devices will permanently reduce the total number of body hairs, they will not result in a permanent removal of all hair.

Laser hair removal has become popular because of its speed and efficacy, although some of the efficacy is dependent upon the skill and experience of the laser operator, and the choice and availability of different laser technologies used for the procedure. Some will need touch-up treatments, especially on large areas, after the initial set of 3–8 treatments.

Comparisons with Other Removal Techniques

Intense pulsed light

A 2006 review article in the journal Lasers in Medical Science compared intense pulsed light (IPL), epilators and both alexandrite and diode lasers. The review found no statistical difference in short-term effectiveness, but a higher incidence of side effects with diode laser-based treatment. Hair reduction after six months was reported as 68.75% for alexandrite lasers, 71.71% for diode lasers, and 66.96% for IPL. Side effects were reported as 9.5% for alexandrite lasers, 28.9% for diode lasers, and 15.3% for IPL. All side effects were found to be temporary and even pigmentation changes returned to normal within six months.

IPL, though technically not containing a laser, is sometimes incorrectly referred to as “laser hair removal”. IPL-based methods, sometimes called “phototricholysis” or “photoepilation”, use xenon flash lamps that emit full spectrum light. IPL systems typically output wavelengths between 400 nm and 1200 nm. Filters are applied to block shorter wavelengths, thereby only using the longer, “redder” wavelengths. IPLs offer certain advantages over laser, principally in the pulse duration. While lasers may output trains of short pulses to simulate a longer pulse, IPL systems can generate pulse widths up to 250 ms, which is useful for larger diameter targets. Some current IPL systems have proven to be more successful in the removal of hair and blood vessels than many lasers.

Electrolysis

Electrolysis is another hair removal method that has been used for over 135 years. Like newer laser technology used properly and with several treatments, electrolysis can be used to remove 100% of the hair from an area and is effective on hair of all colors, if used at an adequate power level with proper technique. But the treatment is slow and tedious compared with typical newer laser hair removal. More hair may grow in certain areas that are prone to hormone-induced growth (e.g. a woman’s chin and neck) based on individual hormone levels or changes therein, and one’s genetic predisposition to grow new hair.

A study conducted in 2000 at the ASVAK Laser Center in Ankara, Turkey, comparing alexandrite laser and electrolysis for hair removal on 12 patients concluded that laser hair removal was 60 times faster, less painful and more reliable than electrolysis. It is important to note that the type of electrolysis performed in the study was galvanic electrolysis, rather than thermolysis or a blend of the two. Galvanic current requires 30 seconds to more than a minute to release each hair whereas thermolysis or a blend can require much less. This study thus did not test the capability of all forms of modern electrolysis.[improper synthesis?]

Shaving

Shaving is a technique in which one removes hair from the skin with a razor. Shaving has been popular as a temporary hair removal technique since at least the 1700s. In 1895, American businessman King Gillette invented a razor blade that was sharp, thin, disposable, and cheap to make. This system was a widespread success and has evolved into the modern disposable razor.

Shaving, however, is only temporary and can lead to irritation of the shaved area.

Waxing

Waxing is another option for hair removal. This method is an efficient way of removing hair; it is longer-lasting than shaving but not permanent. The ancient Egyptians developed a similar mechanism, sugaring, in which one would mix oil and honey then apply it to the skin.

As waxing has evolved, there are two types of waxing. In one, the strips are already ready to use, and one can apply it to the skin and peel it off in the direction opposite to the hair growth. Another one involves heating up the wax, applying it to the skin, and then placing a cloth on it and pulling away from the hair growth.

Regulation

In some countries, including the U.S., hair removal is an unregulated procedure that anyone can do. In some places, only doctors and doctor-supervised personnel can do it, while in other cases permission extends to licensed professionals, such as regular nurses, physician assistants, estheticians, and/or cosmetologists.

In Florida, the use of lasers, laser-like devices and intense pulsed light devices is considered medicine, and requires they be used only by a physician (M.D. or D.O.), a physician assistant under the supervision of a physician, or an advanced registered nurse practitioner under a protocol signed by a physician. An electrologist working under the direct supervision and responsibility of a physician is also allowed to perform laser hair removal in the state of Florida.

Types

Several wavelengths of laser energy have been used for hair removal, from visible light to near-infrared radiation. These lasers are characterized by their wavelength, measured in nanometers (nm):

Pulse width (or duration) is one of the most important considerations. The length of the heating pulse relates directly to the damage achieved in the follicle. When attempting to destroy hair follicles the main target is the germ cells which live on the surface of the hair shaft. Light energy is absorbed by the melanin within the hair and heat is generated. The heat then conducts out towards the germ cells. As long as a sufficient temperature is maintained for the required time then these cells will be successfully destroyed. This is absolutely critical – attaining the required temperature is not sufficient unless it is kept at that temperature for the corresponding time. This is determined by the Arrhenius Rate Equation. To achieve these conditions the laser/IPL system must be able to generate the required power output. The main reason why hair removal fails is simply because the equipment cannot generate the desired temperature for the correct time.

Spot size, or the width of the laser beam, directly affects the depth of penetration of the light energy due to scattering effects in the dermal layer. Larger beam diameters or those devices that has a linear scanning results in deeper deposition of energy and hence can induce higher temperatures in deeper follicles. Hair removal lasers have a spot size about the size of a fingertip (3–18 mm).

Fluence or energy density is another important consideration. Fluence is measured in joules per square centimeter (J/cm2). It’s important to get treated at high enough settings to heat up the follicles enough to disable them from producing hair.

Epidermal cooling has been determined to allow higher fluences and reduce pain and side effects, especially in darker skin. Three types of cooling have been developed:

In essence, the important output parameter when treating hair (and other skin conditions) is power density – this is a combination of energy, spot diameter and pulse duration. These three parameters determine what actually happens when the light energy is absorbed by the tissue chromophore be it melanin, hemoglobin or water, with the amount of tissue damaged being determined by the temperature/time combination.

Number of Sessions

Hair grows in several phases (anagen, telogen, catagen) and a laser can only affect the currently active growing hair follicles (early anagen). Hence, several sessions are needed to damage the hair in all phases of growth and force it to revert to a vellus non-colored small hair.

Multiple treatments depending on the type of hair and skin color have been shown to provide long-term reduction of hair. Most people need a minimum of eight treatments. Current parameters differ from device to device but manufacturers and clinicians generally recommend waiting from three to eight weeks between sessions, depending on the area being treated. The number of sessions depends on various parameters, including the area of the body being treated, skin color, coarseness of hair, reason for hirsutism, and sex. Certain areas (notably men’s facial hair) may require considerably more treatments to achieve desired results.

Laser does not work well on light-colored hair, red hair, grey hair, white hair, as well as fine hair of any color, such as vellus. For darker skinned patients with black hair, the long-pulsed Nd:YAG laser with a cooling tip can be safe and effective when used by an experienced practitioner.

Typically, the shedding of the treated hairs takes about two to three weeks. These hairs should be allowed to fall out on their own and should not be manipulated by the patient for certain reasons, chiefly to avoid infections. Pulling hairs after a session can be more painful as well as counteract the effects of the treatment.

Side Effects and Risks

Some normal side effects may occur after laser hair removal treatments, including itching, pink skin, redness, and swelling around the treatment area or swelling of the follicles (follicular edema). These side effects rarely last more than two or three days. The two most common serious side effects are acne and skin discoloration.

Some level of pain should also be expected during treatments. Numbing creams are available at most clinics, sometimes for an additional cost. Some numbing creams are available over the counter. Use of strong numbing creams over large skin areas being treated at one time must be avoided, since it can cause serious harm, and even death. Typically, the cream is applied about 30 minutes before the procedure. Icing the area after the treatment helps relieve the side effects faster. Ibrahimi and Kilmer reported a study of a novel device of diode handpiece with a large spot size which used vacuum-assisted suction to reduce the level of pain associated with laser treatment.

Unwanted side effects such as hypo- or hyper-pigmentation or, in extreme cases, burning of the skin call for an adjustment in laser selection or settings. Risks include the chance of burning the skin or discoloration of the skin, hypopigmentation (white spots), a flare of acne, swelling around the hair follicle (considered a normal reaction), scab formation, purpura, and infection. These risks can be reduced by treatment with an appropriate laser type used at appropriate settings for the individual’s skin type and treatment area.

Some patients may show side effects from an allergy to either the hair removal gel used with certain laser types, a numbing cream, or to simply shaving the area too soon after the treatment.

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