Unwanted Hair

Hair removal lasers beam highly concentrated light specifically into hair follicles, where it is absorbed by the pigment in the follicle, destroying the hair. Various types of lasers are used with laser hair removal – the most common are the alexandrite, diode, Neodymium YAG and intense pulsed light sources. The procedure was originally designed to remove dark hairs on light skin. New technologies have made the procedure safer for patients with darker skin.

Why remove unwanted hair

Excessive hair growth occurs naturally in some individuals. The condition also can be caused by hormonal imbalance, metabolic problems, genetic disposition or as a side effect of some medicines. The condition can occur in both genders, though it can be particularly upsetting for women.

What you need to know

Most patients require a series of treatments over time. Some see long-term results that may last for years. Others may require multiple treatments over time to maintain their degree of hair loss. It is not possible to determine in advance how many treatments will be required or how long they will last.

Patients usually have the hair trimmed with scissors to a few millimeters above the skin’s surface in the treatment area. The laser and light source will be set with parameters that take into consideration the patient’s skin color, the hair color, the thickness of the hair, the location of the hair and the amount of energy needed for the treatment to be performed.

Do's and Don'ts

Do...
  • Consult a board-certified physician.
  • Undergo a skin test to ensure there will be no adverse side effects.
  • Ensure your physician has experience with your specific skin type.
Don't...
  • Tan before or after a procedure. Tanning can interfere with the absorption of laser light and may cause unusual lightening of the skin.
  • Use artificial tanning lotions because the perceived dark pigmentation may interfere with skin absorption, causing unusual burns and bumps.
  • Seek laser treatments for blonde or white hairs. Patients with this hair type should consider other methods of hair removal.
  • Undergo laser procedures if you take medication that makes you light-sensitive. Some medications may interfere with laser procedures, making the skin more susceptible to burning and scarring.

Hair removal questions to ask a dermatologic surgeon

Unwanted Hair Removal Questionaire

  1. Which hair removal procedure is the correct one for me? (What are the options?)
  2. What is the estimated cost of the procedure?
  3. How long is one appointment?
  4. How often will I need to receive treatments to treat my unwanted hair?
  5. How far apart are the treatments?
  6. What are the common side effects or complications associated with the procedure?
  7. How can I prepare for the treatments/procedure?
  8. Does the treatment hurt?
  9. What are my pain management and anesthesia options?
  10. How long is the recovery time associated with my procedure?
  11. Do you have before-and-after patient images to help to prepare me for what to expect?
  12. Will someone walk me through the process before going in for treatment?
  13. What are the risks?
  14. What should I expect after the procedure is performed? (i.e., short-term and long-term effects, activity restrictions, expected recovery period)  

General questions to ask before hair removal procedures

  1. Is a doctor on site?
  2. Is the doctor board-certified in dermatology or in another specialty with equivalent training and experience?
  3. Was my medical history taken?
  4. Was I given an initial evaluation to determine if the technique or procedure is appropriate for my skin type?
  5. Did the doctor show me before-and-after photos?