Does laser hair removal work? Which laser type should I go with?

I had so many sessions of laser hair removal at different clinics and different countries. The hair goes away for a couple of months after a set of 2-3 treatments. Things go back to normal after that. So I'm questioning wether laser hair removal works or not. Does the schedule matter? I usually do 3 treatments 6 weeks apart. But then do none until after 3-4 months. If you believe laser works, which laser type should I go with? I have dark black thick hair, and light brown skin. Thanks!

Doctor Answers 4

Does laser hair removal work?

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It depends on many factors: the area of the body you are referring to; the skin type; texture of the hair; existence of hormonal imbalance like PCOS etc in women. Your physician should evaluate all these factors before starting treatments. Sometimes in women, a hormonal work up would be necessary to make sure you do not have excessive androgens (male hormones). Some areas of the body do better than other areas. In general bikini, legs and underarms do much better than the face in women. In most men, we are probably referring to, chest or back hair removal. Due to the constant presence of male hormones, like testosterone, men require maintenance sessions a few times a year indefinitely. Facial hair in women is biologically abnormal; which means its almost always hormonal and often genetic. From your description, Nd YAG or Diode lasers seem to be the best options for thicker darker hair. As much as the type of laser, the experience of the physician also matters. Lighter the skin better the results and lesser the side effects. Considering all the variables, benefits of laser hair reduction are far more than the side effects. It would be more helpful if you could mention which areas of the body you are referring to. 

Edison Physician

Best LASER for laser hair removal

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There is no single best laser system, but characteristics of a good laser hair removal office and laser are as follows for the best hair removal

-Experience with hair removal- Staff must be knowledgable about hair removal and understand how to treat it.  If the fluence is too low, more hair can result (hypertrichosis) rather than hair loss

-Proper wavelength- Diode and Nd:YAG and Alexandrite are the  best lasers for  hair removal.  In my office, we prefer the diode as it requires less sessions and tends to be more effective in targeting and treating hair (more hair removed per session) and is extremely versatile.

-Appropriate cooling- All laser systems need cooling to provide safety and comfort.  Uncomfortable laser hair removal tends to result in lower laser hair settings and can cause actual more hair to occur rather than less hair.

Hope that is helpful.

Anil R. Shah, MD
Chicago Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 177 reviews

Laser Hair Removal That Works--Takes 3-6 treatments

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In my practice I use diode lasers for the best outcome. I typically have patients do every 4 weeks for the first 3 times and then every 4-6 weeks for 3 times after. It takes a series of treatments for improvement in hair reduction. I suggest you see an expert. Best, Dr. Emer.

Jason Emer, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 207 reviews

Laser hair removal lasers

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There are 3 different laser wavelengths used. Alexandrite, Diode, and YAG. The YAG should be used mainly for type 4+ to 6 skin. The other 2 work for lighter skin. Alex is probably the best, but the diode is very good. IPL is inferior to the other 3. Settings that are high enough to kill the hair are key to good outcomes while still being safe with the heat. Complete removal is not possible. 75% is the goal with touch ups needed every 6 months.

Steven F. Weiner, MD
Panama City Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 75 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.