Laser Hair Removal

Get rid of unwanted hair with laser hair removal.
Get rid of unwanted hair with laser hair removal.
© Keith

Do you have embarrassing hair growth where you don't want it? You're not alone — up to 90 percent of us are bothered by this age-old beauty problem that is often blamed on heredity or hormones.

For women, the most aggravating areas where unwanted hair growth occurs are the face, legs, underarms, breasts and bikini line. Some men need help with an excessively hairy back, neck and chest.

Stubble and ingrown hairs can come with shaving or tweezing. The other at-home options — removing hair using hardened wax or a depilatory — can be tough on sensitive skin and last just a couple of weeks. Moreover, it is usually recommended that they be applied by a professional.

To get that smooth, hair-free feeling that lasts longer, it's takes energy — of the electrical or laser variety.

Either way, remember: Hair grows, sheds and replaces itself in cycles of varying length. Dormant follicles can sprout months, or years, later.

Hair Removal Methods

Electrolysis is a 125-year-old process using low-level current to destroy follicles, one-by-one. A sterile probe is inserted, a current generated and the loosened hair removed. There may be a slight reddening and/or swelling and small scabs may occur. Treatment intervals vary, and it can't be used inside the nose and ear.

Lasers (approved for hair removal in 1995) and intense pulsed-light devices, sometimes called laser equivalents, use thermal energy to destroy follicles. Lasers treat larger areas, but may be ineffective on white and light blonde hairs and tanned skin. Only two lasers are approved for very dark skin.

A prescription anesthetic may be applied beforehand, compresses and gel afterward. Skin is pink to red, sometimes swollen, for up to a few days. Pigmentation changes may occur, but almost always fade. Skin may crust. Hairs can take up to two weeks to fall out. New growth may be lighter. Treatments are 4-6 weeks apart, and the eye area should be avoided.