What's the Best Hair Removal Treatment?

laser hair removal or electrolysis or ipl?

Doctor Answers (16)

Best Laser Hair Removal Treatment

+3
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.


Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

For large portions of the body, laser is the way to go...

+3
  • For large portions of the body, laser is the way to go – it is efficient and does a great job of hair reduction. I use a Candela device that has a freezing device that chills the skin, making it more comfortable for the patients.
  • Electrolysis is ok for small areas and for hair that is fair.
  • IPL is getting better for hair reduction but most devices are not powerful enough to really do the job.

Kenneth Beer, MD
Palm Beach Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Best Laser Hair Removal Treatment

+1

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!

Daniel Shapiro, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 93 reviews

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Laser Hair Removal

+1

In my experience the Cynosure Elite laser hair removal machine is the most effective.  It is the Cadillac of Laser Hair Machines.  I have personally been treated with our machine and the results are fantastic.  As with all machines, it will take several treatments to maximize results, but even after one treatment, I see in myself and our patients significant results.

 

Good Luck.

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Laser Excellent Modality for Hair Removal

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Laser hair removal (LHR) is safe (when performed by a trained physician or in doctor's office), effective, and more efficient and cost-effective in the long run. There are several lasers which can be used for LHR and it is important that the correct laser be used for the skin type being treated. The Alexandrite (755nm) and NdYag (1064nm) are generally considered the best lasers for LHR, but the NdYag is safer on darker skin types as the Alexandrite attracts pigment. As long as the hairs being treated have color (pigment), the treatment will be effective. We usually recommend 6 to 8 treatments spaced 4 to 6 weeks apart for optimal, long-lasting results. LHR is expensive, but when you consider that the results are long-lasting if not permanent, there is a huge cost savings long-term. LHR also is less irritating to the skin than shaving, waxing or electrolysis. 

 

 


 


Channing R. Barnett, MD
New York Dermatologist
4.5 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

What's the best hair removal treatment

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After using several types of Intense Pulsed Light machines, including the Isolaz, I have decided that the Alexandrite Laser (755 nanometer wave length) is the best for skin types I to IV Fitzpatrick. (Very fair skin to moderately dark skin) and the YAG Laser is best for very dark skin types,  (AS LONG AS THE HAIR FOLLICLE IS DARKER THAN THESKIN).

There is always some pain with these precedures, therefore we apply a anumbing cream 30 minutes before the hair removal.

Blond, white and red  hairs don't respond to Laser or IPL hair removal. Electrolysis may be a good choice for limited areas, but the success rate is low.

Eugene Mandrea, MD
Chicago Dermatologist
4.5 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Laser Hair Removal

+1

Laser hair removal has been the gold standard for the past 10 years. Laser hair removal is more efficient and permanent.

Sonia Badreshia-Bansal, MD
Bay Area Dermatologist
4.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Laser hair removal - generally your best choice

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Laser Hair Removal (LHR) is generally the most effective, efficient, safest, and ultimately cheapest option for unwanted hair. Hair needs to have some color (pigmented) for LHR to be effective. Blonde, Grey, peach fuzz, and even most Red hair will not respond to LHR. For these types of hair, electrolysis may be best.

While IPL's can be effective in lighter skin types, they generally are not as effective as our best lasers, have a higher potential side effect profile, and can not be used effectively in darker skin types.

It is important to use the right laser or light source for your skin type. The Alexandrite laser (755nm) is generally the most effective, but since it is attracted by pigment so well, darker skin types (Indian, African Americans) cannot normally be treated with this laser. For darker skin types, I feel the best lasers are the Long-Pulsed Nd:Yag lasers (1064nm).

Jeffrey C. Poole, MD
Metairie Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Laser Hair Removal for everything, Electrolysis for gray hair only

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Laser Hair Removal generally works really well for pigmented hair. Electrolysis is only recommended for hair that does not respond to laser such as blonde or gray hair. I am not a fan of IPL lasers as the number of required treatments are significantly higher and the specific energy level is not readily obtained.

As for the laser hair removal, the two best lasers are the ones using Alexandrite laser and Diode lasers, most well known of them are the Gentlelase system and Lightsheer system. There are however several other lasers now available with the same basic technology but added advantages such as vacuum assisted ones and combination lasers.

Peyman Ghasri, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologist
4.5 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Laser Hair Removal

+1

Laser and light based technologies can reduce hair safely and effectively. You need to have the right laser for your skin and hair type combination so that the right amount of energy can reach the hair follicle and reduce the hairs. After meeting with your dermatologist, they can usually help you to pick the best laser for your needs. I have found that the long pulsed Nd Yag and IPL devices such as BBL are highly effective and the discomfort is usually minimal with these devices. Topical numbing cream can always be applied 30 minutes prior to treating if needed. Remember that all lasers can burn and scar you so be sure it is being used by an expert on the other end!

Shawn Allen, MD
Boulder Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

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.