Laser hair removal is a safe, non-invasive way to remove unwanted body hair. The heat from the laser destroys the tube-shaped sacs within the skin (hair follicles) and prevents hair growth.

Unlike shaving or waxing, the results of laser hair removal are permanent. You may experience some regrowth after treatments, but the hair typically grows back lighter and finer. Click here for more info.

How Does It Work?

Laser hair removal uses pulses of light to damage and disable unwanted hair follicles, which stops future hair growth. A licensed doctor or technician performs this noninvasive procedure. Your skin might feel sensitive for a few hours after treatment, but you can use over-the-counter pain medication if needed.

Before laser hair removal begins, your doctor applies a cooling device to protect the skin. Then, the doctor presses a hand-held laser instrument against your skin. The tip of the laser might have a cool gel to further soothe skin and reduce the risk of side effects. You might feel a sensation like a series of stings or a rubber band snapping against your skin, depending on your comfort level. Avoid tanning and sunless skin creams the week before your treatment because these products darken the surface of your skin and can prevent the laser from penetrating hair follicles.

What Are the Side Effects?

Laser hair removal involves the use of a machine that uses light energy to destroy or weaken the structure of hair follicles. This process can cause side effects like redness or swelling, but they don’t last long. You might also develop crusting on the treated skin, but it will eventually disappear.

If the laser isn’t used properly, it can cause permanent damage to the skin, as well as pigmentation changes. These side effects can be avoided by only getting treatments at clinics or doctors that are regulated and have experience with this type of treatment.

Before undergoing laser hair removal, it’s important to avoid tanning beds and use sun protection on the areas that will be treated. It’s also best to shave the area two to three days before the procedure starts. Avoid plucking, waxing, or tweezing the hair before the session, too.

How Long Will It Take?

A laser hair removal session can last for a few minutes or up to an hour. The length of time depends on the size and thickness of the hair.

A small area, such as the upper lip, can take only ten minutes to treat. Larger areas, such as the legs, can take an hour or more. A topical anesthetic cream can be applied for the treatment to reduce discomfort.

It’s important not to wax, pluck or shave the area before laser hair removal because these methods disturb the hair follicle. You’ll also need to avoid sunless skin bleaching creams because they can make your skin darken, which will interfere with the effectiveness of laser treatments.

Generally, it takes multiple sessions for hair to be permanently removed from the skin. This is because the laser can only destroy hair follicles that are in the active growth phase. After the area is hairless, hair will grow back but it will be thinner and lighter than before.

What Are the Costs?

Unlike shaving or waxing, which remove only the tip of a hair, lasers destroy the root. That’s why laser hair removal is a more expensive option than shaving or waxing.

Costs vary depending on the size of the treatment area, how many sessions are needed, and your skin tone. A consultation with a specialist is the best way to find out the total costs of laser hair removal.

The best way to save on laser hair removal costs is to buy multiple treatment packages upfront. Be sure to ask about a patient payment plan. You can also use medical credit cards or loans to pay for the procedure. Remember, however, that cosmetic procedures are usually not covered by insurance. That means you’ll be out of pocket for most of the expenses.

Where Can I Get It?

Depending on your skin color and hair texture, laser treatments could permanently remove unwanted hair, requiring only one or two touch-ups per year. The best results usually come from people with light skin and dark hair, though that doesn’t mean those with darker skin can’t benefit.

If you’re interested in getting rid of peach fuzz on the chin or between your brows, or bikini area hair, or back hair (it’s safe for any part of the body), book a consultation with a trusted esthetician to see if laser treatments are a good fit for you. They’ll discuss the process, costs, and expected results before you commit.

Editor’s note: This article features at-home laser hair removal devices that have FDA clearance, but we recommend seeking out a professional clinic. To help you find the right treatment for your needs, Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Continue reading the next article.