The use of a beam of light to remove hair is a medical procedure known as Laser Hair Removal. The light emitted is absorbed by the hair, when this happens, the energy in the light becomes thermal energy that damages the hair follicles that prevents future hair growth. This generally does not permanently prevent hair growth, but it will delay growth for significant periods of time. More than one removal procedure is usually needed for various stages, the initial removal and maintenance.

Reasons for removal

This medical procedure is generally done for cosmetic reasons to remove hair. Though not all hair is created equal and this affects the ability of the laser to successfully remove it.

The 2 most important factors in laser hair removal is the hair colour and skin type. As both of those factors are governed by the amount of melanin present in either the hair or skin. While the laser should only really be absorbed by the melanin in the hair, it can also be absorbed by the skin, causing damage to both. A difference in hair and skin colour generally allows for better results. Though advances in technology have mitigated these problems, and have even made it easier for people with lighter coloured hair to get better results from laser hair removal.

What to expect

As with any medical procedure, there are always risks, such as skin irritation, and changes in pigment on the skin. Less commonly, other effects can include blistering, crusting or scarring.

Once you’ve found a doctor specialized cosmetic surgery and experience with this procedure, consult with them to determine if the procedure is appropriate and what you should do to prepare.

You can expect a series of treatments, generally between 2 to 6. The location of hair removal affects how long you can expect to wait between treatments, with areas of slower hair growth generally needing treatments spaced out over a longer period, and vice versa.  

Special goggles will need to be worn during the procedure to protect your eyes from the laser. The doctor will use a small laser device on your skin. The beam passes through your skin and into he hair follicles, the energy heats and damages the follicles which is what inhibits the hair growth.

The part of the body that you choose to get this procedure done on is what determines the duration of the procedure. With smaller areas likely only taking a few minutes, while larger areas may take upwards of an hour.

After the procedure is done, the hairs do not fall out right away. Rather this will happen over a longer time period. During this time, it may look like there is continued hair growth. The end results vary, with most people who undergo the procedure experiencing that the hair does not grow back for months, or even years. For longer term removal, one might expect to have maintenance treatments.