Best Laser System for Dense, Dark Back Hair with Light Skin?

My 18 year old son is in desperate need of laser hair removal on his back. It is very dense and dark. His skin is light. What is the best laser system to use for his problem? Also should he shave it or leave it the way it is for treatment. I don't want to commit to spending a large amount of money on a system that won't work. I live in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.

Doctor Answers (9)

Best Laser Hair Removal Treatment

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Thank you for your question. A wide variety of medical lasers and light systems are used to remove unwanted hair, however most lasers are not effective for all skin types and hair colors. The Elos laser hair removal system is designed for permanent hair reduction by combining both optical and radiofrequency energy to deliver satisfying, longer lasting results with less discomfort than previous laser systems. All skin and all hair colors including gray and blonde hair are effectively treated. Faces, backs, arms, legs, faces, and bikini lines can be treated including those individuals with darkly pigmented skin. Treatments are administered every 4 weeks and generally 3 to 5 treatments are sufficient. Best of luck!


Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

Best Laser for Dense Dark Hair

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The best laser is dependent of the color of the skin. Dense dark hair should be easily treated whether an individual has light skin or dark skin. The best laser for light skin is the alexandrite laser
Laser hair removal has come a long way since the first laser for hair removal received FDA clearance in the mid 1990’s. Older generation lasers were slow, very painful and worked only on individuals with very dark hair and very light skin. Today, lasers can work on all skin colors and some lasers are even safe for treating tanned skinned. Lasers for hair removal can be performed on any (yes, any) area of the body.
When considering a hair removal laser treatment, consumers should ask the following questions:
1) Is this laser FDA approved for hair removal on my skin type and hair color?
There are several lasers for hair removal available. No one laser is ideal for every individual. Depending on your skin color and hair color, some lasers will be more effective than others.
The Ruby Laser: This is the "original " hair removal laser. Its deep red color at 694nm is very well absorbed by the melanin pigment in hair, making it an excellent choice for fine and light hair. However, because melanin is present in the skin as well, the Ruby laser cannot be used on patients with skin that is not very light, including tanned skin. Because of this limitation, slow repetition rate, and relatively small spot size, Ruby lasers have become less popular for laser hair removal in recent years.
The Alexandrite Laser: This laser produces reddish light. With its large (up to 18mm) spot size and high repetition rate, the Alexandrite laser is the fastest hair removal laser, and is suitable for rapid treatment of large body areas in patient with light to olive complexion. An entire back can be treated in less than 30 minutes.
The Diode Laser: This laser, consists of a high power laser diode emitting infrared (invisible) light at ~800-808nm. The longer wavelength allows deep penetration into the skin and safety for darker skin types, but with less efficacy for lighter and finer hair. A smaller spot size means a longer treatment. That may mean a more expensive treatment. A longer treatment may also increase discomfort and a need for topical numbing
The long pulse Nd:YAG: This laser can be used on all skin types, including tanned skin. Large spot sizes and fast repetition rates allow large areas to be treated quickly. Then disadvantage is less effective clearance for fine and light hairs than some other hair removal lasers.
IPL devices are not lasers, because they emit non-coherent light of many different wavelengths. However, because most of the light energy is in the shorter wavelengths, treatment of darker skin types is less effective than with the appropriate laser.
2) What is the spot size of the laser? A larger spot size offers not only the advantage of faster treatment, but also additional safety and efficacy. As spot size increases, a lower percentage of the delivered light energy scatters outside of the treatment area, increasing the depth of pentration, and allowing a lower energy setting to be used for treatment.
3) What type of cooling system is the laser equipped with? It is important that a laser have consistent cooling in order to ensure patient safety and comfort.
4) Is there a board-certified physician on site? Although complications with new lasers for hair removal are rare, in the event of a complication, you need to know who will provide medical attention.
5) Are treatments sold in a package or one at a time? Because every person will respond at a slightly different rate, and some individuals will require more treatments than others for complete clearance, most laser centers will offer individual sessions.
6) Are complimentary consultations and spot tests available? You should be able to meet the technician and experience a pulse or two before committing to a treatment.

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

Laser hair removal of the back

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You describe dark, dense hair on light skin. This is the ideal candidate for laser hair removal, as the dark coarse hairs will absorb the most energy and the light skin will not be an obstacle for energy absorption.  The long pulsed Alexandrite and the Light Sheer Diode work very well. The new Light Sheer Duet is known to be less painful and takes much less time per treatment than the older technology, but all devices require multiple treatments to reduce hair growth. Shaving the hair prior to the procedure is crucial to limiting the risks and increasing the effectiveness.  Your son should see the doctor in consultation prior to the procedure but it is ideal for him to have had his back shaved prior to the first laser treatment. Some practices and spas will do this and others will want you to have it done prior to coming in for treatment.
 

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

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Dark Hair, Light Skin Is Ideal Skin Type for All Laser Systems

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Since melanin (pigment) is the target for all laser hair removal systems, the dark hair/ light skin combination is ideal skin type for all laser hair removal systems.

Given that, the Long-Pulsed Alexandrite, because of its superior melanin absorption vs other laser systems, is the "gold standard" therapy for laser hair removal.  I personally prefer the Candela GentleLase system, as the Dynamic Cooling Device provides the most effective cooling system on the market.

Because of this excellent melanin absorption, the Alexandrite is not the ideal laser for Darker Skin.  For Darker skin types, I prefer the Long-Pulsed Nd:Yag laser.

Jeffrey C. Poole, MD
Metairie Dermatologic Surgeon
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Dark hair and light skin is a perfect combination for laser hair removal

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This combination allows lasers that focus specifically on the dark color to be used. The advantage is the laser  energy can go where it is needed - the hair-  and not on the skin itself.

It is best to shave the hair prior to the laser treatment, so the energy can penetrate deeply and not be wasted  on the surface.

The alexandrite laser is one of several that would have a good wavelength for this skin combination. Several treatments will be required, as only actively growing follicles at the time will be affected.

You should avoid tanning, but if it happens, you could switch to a different laser, such as a Yag,  for example. Better yet you could wait for the tan to go away, and recommence treatment. . 

Christopher J. Peers, MD
South Bend Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Laser for Dark Back Hair With Light Skin

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I recommend treatment with a long pulsed alexandrite laser -- this laser goes by several tradenames, one of which is the Elite.

Deborah Sarnoff, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Most laser hair removal systems should do well with light skin and thick dark hair

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The laser and light based hair removal devices work by targeting pigment of the hair that is darker than the pigment of the skin.

As far as shaving is concerned, yes 2-3 days before the laser procedure, shave the area to be treated.  If all the hair is left as is, much of the laser energy would be used on the outside portion of the hair shaft and we want to treat the inside portion.

Emily Altman, MD
Short Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Best Laser System for Dense, Dark Back Hair with Light Skin

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I recommend the High- Speed LightSheer Duet for fast, comfortable and effective laser hair reduction, particularly for treatment of large areas such as the back, chest and legs.

 

Anifat Balogun, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon

Hair removal for black hair on the back

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Laaser hair removal is a very safe and effective procedure. There are nbow many different lasers that can work, some better than others. The newest laser is the Lightshear Duet. This laser can remove all the back hair in a 15-20 minute procedure with little pain. Over the past 15 years my back has been treated with the IPL, a variety of Nd:YAG lasers, the regular lightshear and a variety of alexandrite lasers. My treatment with the Lightshear Duet was by far the quickest and easiest and least painful procedure I ever had.

Mitchel P. Goldman, MD
San Diego Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.