Laser hair removal is a medical procedure that uses a laser — an intense, pulsating beam of light — to remove unwanted hair.
During laser hair removal, a laser beam passes through the skin to an individual hair follicle. The intense heat of the laser damages the hair follicle, which inhibits future hair growth.
Laser hair removal is most effective for people who have light skin and dark hair.
Although laser hair removal effectively slows hair growth, it doesn't guarantee permanent hair removal. It typically takes several laser hair removal treatments to provide an extended hair-free period. Periodic maintenance treatments might be needed as well.
Why it's done
Laser hair removal is used to remove unwanted hair. Common treatment locations include legs, armpits, upper lip, chin and bikini line. However, it's possible to treat unwanted hair in nearly any area — except the eyelid or surrounding area.
Hair color and skin type influence the success of laser hair removal.
For example, laser hair removal is most effective for people who have light skin and dark hair because the laser beam targets the pigment (melanin) in the hair. However, advances in technology have made laser hair removal an option for people who have darker skin.
Laser hair removal isn't generally effective for white, gray, red or blond hair — although treatment options for lighter hair continue to be investigated.
Laser hair removal doesn't guarantee permanent hair removal. Some hair could be resistant to the laser treatment or grow again after treatment — although the new hair growth might be finer and lighter in color.
The most common side effects of laser hair removal 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.
Rarely, laser hair removal can cause blistering, crusting, scarring or other changes in skin texture.
Laser hair removal isn't recommended for the eyelid or surrounding area, due to the possibility of severe eye injury.