Safe and Effective Setting for Alexandrite Laser for Type IV Skin?

I've decided to get laser hair removal, and had a test done to three areas of my body today and they seem fine - i will wait a couple of days to ensure I have no complications. The machine used is a Gentlelase, and I have read that there is a higher risk of hyper pigmentation or burning for type 4 skin. My question is, what is a safe setting that will be effective and kill the hair, but not burn my skin? The tech that did my test said she will start with "7" and go up to "9" max.

Doctor Answers 3

GentleLase in Type IV skin

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GentleLase is a very good laser to use with type IV skin, as long as it is not tanned skin. It is not possible to commit to the treatment parameters ahead of the treatment itself. Test spots are a great idea and a good place to start, but on any given day in a given area with hairs that may be darker or lighter, thicker or thinner, on skin that may be a little bit lighter or darker in one area than another in the same person, different parameters may be employed. Parameters to be determined in every treatment include spot size, joules, DCD spray, DCD delay, pulse duration, overlap and stacking. It is just as important to avoid hyperpigmentation or blistering as it is to treat with high enough energy levels to kill the hairs on the first treatment. 

It is very important that you trust the person delivering the treatments.  This should be a physician or a technician trained and directly supervised by the physician. The physician, ideally a dermatologist since this specialty is fully trained in the physiology of hair and  skin, and in laser physics, should have evaluated you in person prior to the first treatment.  You should not have to be in the position of directing the treatment parameters.

Laser hair removal for darker skin

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I frequently treat darker skin types with my Gentlelase laser.  Depending on the skin type we have to decrease the energy.  There are times when I will pre-treat a patient with hydroquinones for several weeks before treatment. Doing a test spot is a great idea.  Please let me know how your treatment works out.  Remember it is very important to go to a board certified dermatogist for your procedure with a great deal of cosmetic dermatology experience.

Laser hair removal safe for darker skin types....with the right experience

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Laser hair removal is a safe, effective method to remove hair in most skin types, with the right equipment and the right experienced physician.  In our practice, we have many patient's with darker skin types and we tailor each treatment to your skin type.  Skin type 4 can certainly be treated, with we have to decrease the energy and pick the right laser.  I have the Alexandrite (GentleLase), but we often use the newer model (GentleMax) which lets me use the Alexandrite or nd:Yag wavelength, which is often a better choice for Type 4 skin.


Anjali Butani, MD
Tustin Dermatologic Surgeon

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.