Guide to Laser Hair Removal, Part 2
A complete guide for the consumer containing important information on laser hair
For a more detailed explanation of the science
behind laser hair removal, click here.
Am I a candidate for laser hair removal?
Laser hair removal is not for everyone. The absolute requirement
is that one's hair must be darker than the surrounding skin. Additionally
very darkly pigmented people absorb too much laser energy in their
skin and are not candidates for most lasers. These dark skinned
patients require the use of highly specialized lasers which are
only available at selected centers. Tanned patients with light hair are
not candidates. Tanned patients with dark hair cannot be treated
with the usual hair removal lasers, also requiring treatment with
a specialized laser, such as the kind invented at the Institute
of Laser Medicine in Los Angeles (see U.S.
Patent 6,595,585). Lastly the treatment cost should be within
reach of the patient. Laser hair removal, although much less expensive
than electrolysis, requires multiple treatments, and generally
costs over $1000 in total for most anatomic areas.
2. What will it cost for laser hair removal for me?
Treatment cost varies with the size of the area treated. Experienced
laser centers, which have developed expertise in laser hair removal,
generally average about $500 per treatment session, with an average
of four treatment sessions initially recommended. Large areas,
such as the entire back, or the entire legs, cost considerably
more than this. Small areas, such as the upper lip, can be less.
Individual consultation with the laser center is necessary to
obtain exact pricing.
3. Influence of skin color on laser hair removal.
Light skin makes laser hair removal easier to perform. Fewer treatments
are required, and better, faster results are obtained. People
with darker skin can be treated, but results are slower, more
sessions are required, and greater expertise is required on the
part of the laser center. Laser hair removal must be individualized
for each patient.
4. Influence of hair color on laser hair removal.
Dark hair absorbs more laser energy and is easier to treat. Coarse
dark hair responds the best to laser treatment. Light hair is
more difficult to treat. Blonde or red hair is very difficult
to treat. Multiple treatment sessions are required, and results
are variable. Blonde or red hair usually contains pheomelanin,
which absorbs laser energy less avidly than the eumelanin pigment
which is present in black or brown hair.
5. Laser hair removal requires multiple treatments.
Although one laser session can produce long-term hair removal,
as a rule multiple treatment sessions are necessary to obtain
optimal results. In large part this is due to the fact that laser
hair removal is most effective for hair which is in the anagen
phase. Anagen is the growth phase of hair. Since hair grows in
cycles, not all of the hairs are in anagen at any given time.
Additional sessions are necessary to catch all of the hairs when
they are in anagen.
6. What areas can be treated?
Any area, except adjacent to the eye, where there is excess hair.
The most common areas requested are the face, upper lip, neck,
chest, periareolar, underarms, back, abdomen, bikini line, and
7. About permanent hair reduction by laser.
Waxing, shaving, and plucking all produce hair removal which is
temporary. Several of the newer lasers have clearly documented
that there is permanent hair reduction after each treatment. The
FDA has approved several lasers for permanent hair reduction,
and more results with additional lasers are pending. The results
tend to be additive, i.e. more treatments lead to greater degrees
of permanent hair reduction. For any given patient results cannot
be precisely predicted. Results can be variable, even with the
8. Pulsed light and laser hair removal.
Intense pulsed light devices can produce effective hair removal.
Although these devices are not lasers, they are "laser equivalents",
utilizing the same principle of selective photothermolysis to
achieve hair removal. These devices are in practice more difficult
to adjust than lasers and require great expertise for their proper
9. Myths 1: Guarantees in laser hair removal.
It is impossible to predict the exact result a patient will achieve
with laser hair removal, especially with regard to how many sessions
a given individual will require. Many of the hair removal clinics
which guaranteed results have gone out of business. Like most
reputable medical practices, the most established laser hair removal
practices do not guarantee results.
10. Myths 2: Discount laser hair removal clinics.
Established medical centers with excellent reputations do not
discount their fees. Patients know their reputations and rely
upon their experience and expertise. The same is true for laser
hair removal. Consumers are advised, as with all forms of medical
care, to seek the center of highest quality, rather than lowest
cost. Laser hair removal requires exacting science, individual
attention, experience, and a trained, caring, professional staff.