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  You are at: Procedure info > Cosmetic surgery > Laser Hair removal

Laser Hair removal

















hair removal of legs

Hair can be removed from any part of the body, and a number of methods can be used to do so. Unwanted hair in females often involves that under the arms, on the legs, or on the face. Male complaints are often of the back or occasionally chest and tummy area. The bikini and buttock area is also a very common reason to seek hair removal.



How do lasers remove hair?

Lasers are essentially very strong pulses of light at a specific wavelength (read more about laser science here). When attempting to reduce the appearance of hairs, specific lasers are chosen to target the dark pigment in the hair. The pigment absorbs the laser light, causing the hair shaft to heat up very quickly. This heat travels down to the hair bulb (the 'root' of the hair), causing it to burn and permanently stop the hair growing back.

One treatment with lasers, though, does not remove all hair in the area. Hairs are all growing at different stages; only those that are actively growing at the time will be affected by the laser treatment. All the other hairs that are in a resting stage will not be removed and, once they start growing, will show through as 'new hairs'. For this reason a number of treatments may be needed, spaced a few weeks apart, to hopefully target all the hair in the area.


How is laser hair removal performed?

Whilst laser hair removal can be slightly painful, it is usually a fairly painless procedure. Usually, cold air or a cold jet spray is applied to the treated area, reducing any pain.

A test patch is usually performed, whereby a small area is treated first. This lets the specialist decide which settings will work best for your hair and skin type. The area is then checked after a few weeks, to look for any signs of complications (see below) and if all has healed well then the rest of the area can be treated.

A number of treatments (6-8) may be needed to effectively reduce hair growth in the area. For this reason, many laser specialists call the treatment 'laser hair reduction', rather than 'removal'.


What are the risks of laser hair removal?

There are a number of risks and complications including:

  • Burning/blistering/scarring - as lasers heat up the hair, the skin can often also overheat and occasionally blister, and even potentially scar. This scarring is a relatively rare complication though.

  • Partial response - as described above, not all hairs will be treated at any one time with a laser. After a number of treatments, all the hair in the area may have been treated and no hair will grow back again. Fairly commonly, top-up treatments are required, as a few scattered hairs start to grow in the treated area. These top-up treatments are usually just a single treatment every few months, often becoming less needed as time goes on.

  • Non response - lasers can only target hairs with dark pigment in them. Blonde, white and silver hairs are therefore very difficult to treat with laser and other methods are probably more suitable for these hair types.

  • Change in pigmentation - occasionally, at the same time as the laser reducing the hairs, the colour of the skin itself may also be affected in the treated area. This can result in hypopigmentation (paleness of skin) or hyperpigmentation (darkening of skin). This effect may be temporary, lasting a few months, or can occasionally be lifelong. The risks are higher with darker skin types.

  • Pain - the treated area can feel slightly sore or warm after treatment, which usually responds well to simple painkillers. Any pain is usually short-lived and lasts less than a day.

  • Infection - blistered and broken skin can allow infection to enter, resulting in a red inflamed area. This may require antibiotics, but could potentially increase the chances of scarring and pigment changes. Cold sores can be activated if the lip area is treated, and many laser specialists will prescribe antibiotics around the time of laser treatment to reduce this risk.

  • Increased hair growth - this is a fairly rare occurrence, whereby the hair in the treated area actually starts to grow faster than before. This usually responds to further laser treatment.


This list of risks is not exhaustive, and you should discuss possible complications with your specialist. Whilst these risks will seem very worrysome, and indeed can be serious, it should also be borne in mind that many people have no/minimal postoperative problems.



Other SurgeryWise articles

You may also be interested to read our articles on other methods of hair removal, laser tattoo removal, dermabrasion, Laser or other Cosmetic surgery articles


The information provided is as a guide only and you should discuss matters fully with your specialist before deciding if this is the right procedure for you. Please also read our disclaimer






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