Excess hair on the body - in small areas or large - can now be permanently eliminated with laser hair removal. Originally, ruby lasers were used for everyone, but they did not work well on people with dark skin. Today, ruby, alexandrite or diode lasers are used for light-skinned people, and neodymium:yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Nd:YAG) lasers are used for dark-skinned people.
Laser hair removal is an office procedure that does not require any anesthetic. The physician uses a hand-held laser to activate an intense, pulsating beam of light for a fraction of a second to the area where the hair is being treated. The light reaches the hair follicle and creates enough heat to destroy the follicle and the bulb. The old hair falls out and no new hairs grow. Patients wear goggles during the procedure to protect their eyes from the light. A cooling device is incorporated into the tip of the laser to help prevent skin damage. The procedure can be completed in minutes for small areas, like an upper lip, and hours for large areas, like the back.
Some patients experience a mild discomfort during the procedure. Afterwards, it is not uncommon to have temporary redness and swelling, which abate in a matter of days. While one treatment can permanently stop thousands of hairs from growing, multiple treatments are required because hair grows in staggered cycles. Generally, 60% to 95% of hair exposed to this laser hair removal procedure is permanently eliminated after six months.