Frequently Asked Questions - Consumer Guide to Laser Hair Removal

FAQs - Consumer Guide to 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 very good candidates for most lasers. Laser hair removal requires multiple treatments.

Treatment cost varies with the size of the area treated. Experienced laser centers, which have developed expertise in laser hair removal, generally average about $300 per treatment session, with an average of four to six 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.

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.

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 will not get very noticeable results. 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.

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.

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 legs.

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 best lasers.

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.

Established 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 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.