Jefferson University Hospitals

Laser Hair Removal

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For both men and women, unwanted hair on your face or body can be expensive and painful to remove on a regular basis. A permanent solution we offer at Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia is called intense pulsed light (IPL). It uses specific wavelengths of light that are the optimum for absorption by the melanin pigmentation in hair yet at the same time minimizes any damage to the skin.

What Does Laser Hair Removal Involve?

The hair follicle is damaged or occasionally destroyed, and the dark terminal (adult) hair is either permanently removed or replaced with a vellus (fine, light-colored) hair. IPL laser hair removal can eliminate up to 90 percent of dark course hair. Just about any area can be treated with minimal discomfort and virtually no down time. Industry standards recommend six to eight treatments performed every 4 to 8 weeks.

During laser hair removal, there is mild to moderate discomfort similar to being snapped by a rubber band. Most patients tolerate the procedure without any anesthesia. However, if larger or sensitive areas are to be treated, a topical anesthesia cream is applied one hour before treatment.

Immediately after the procedure, the treated area may appear slightly swollen and pink in color and will feel like a mild sunburn. This reaction subsides within minutes to hours. Cool compresses and a topical corticosteroid cream will hasten the disappearance of these symptoms.

Multiple Laser Hair Removal Treatments

Since hair goes through different phases, multiple treatments are usually necessary. Although a few patients will achieve satisfactory hair removal after a single treatment, most patients will require three to six treatments to a specific area (depending on the area treated). Some patients will require more than six treatments.

Arm, leg, underarm and bikini area hair tend to be the easiest to remove, while facial hair, especially of the lip and chin, can be a bit more resistant to treatment.

Treatments are performed approximately every four to six weeks.

Possible Laser Hair Removal Side Effects

There are rarely any permanent side effects with laser hair removal when done properly. Skin lightening (hypopigmentation) is rare, but darkening (hyperpigmentation) may occur, especially in patients with darker skin tones. These changes in color usually tend to gradually fade away, but may be permanent. There is a small chance of scarring (less than one percent), appearing as either thickened or depressed areas.