Laser hair removal for unwanted hair has become one of the most common cosmetic procedures performed in the United States. Laser hair removal utilizes beams of highly concentrated light designed to selectively penetrate into the hair follicles, to be absorbed by the pigment in the hair follicles and to destroy the hair within that hair follicle. The laser’s energy is attracted to the pigment of hair, the same way sunlight is attracted to darker clothing.
Laser hair removal is most effective for people who have light skin and dark hair. However, advances in technology have made it an option for people who have darker skin as well. Common treatment locations include legs, underarms, upper lip, chin and bikini line. However, it’s possible to treat unwanted hair in nearly any area — except the eyelid or surrounding area.
Although laser hair removal effectively slows hair growth, it doesn’t guarantee permanent hair removal. It typically takes multiple treatments to provide an extended hair-free period. Periodic maintenance treatments might be needed as well.
In a matter of minutes, hair follicles are destroyed with minimal discomfort. Using highly concentrated energy, hair follicles are targeted and pulses of light are emitted.
The most common side effects 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 have darker skin, especially if an incorrect laser is used at an incorrect setting.