Everything You Need to Know About Laser Hair Removal

What is laser hair removal?

Looking to cut back how much time you spend plucking, shaving, and waxing? Laser hair removal is a popular option to reduce unwanted hair on your face, arms, legs, back, bikini area, or underarms.

However, the name laser hair removal is actually a bit misleading because the FDA says it’s only effective for reducing the amount of hair you have by about 70%, not completely removing it forever. The good news: the hair that does grow back is usually much finer and less noticeable.

What is laser hair removal recovery like?

Laser hair removal recovery is fairly simple, but you’ll need to be cautious about sun exposure.

“Intense sun exposure and exposure to UV light in tanning beds before or after treatment could result in unfavorable skin conditions including blistering, pigmentation disorders, or scarring,” says Dr. Michael Law, a Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina plastic surgeon, in a RealSelf Q&A. “During the course of treatment, you should wear sunblock and limit sun exposure to the areas being treated with the laser.”

While laser hair removal will reduce hair growth, it doesn’t permanently remove it.

How long does laser hair removal last?

“You can expect about a 70 percent hair reduction once you complete a series of treatments (usually six to eight). Follow up visits are needed to treat regrowth and to maintain the results.”

Dr. Paul Vitenas, Jr.,

How many laser hair removal treatments will I need?

The number of treatments needed depends on your hair growth cycle and the treatment area.

“Permanent hair reduction with laser hair removal typically takes six to nine sessions spaced four to eight weeks apart,” says Dr. Monika Soni, a Summit, New Jersey anesthesiologist, in a RealSelf Q&A. “Please note that annual touch-ups to may be needed.”

What are the potential risks and side effects of laser hair removal?

When laser hair removal machines are used properly—both in function and the using right laser for your skin type—there should be very few side effects. Side effects shouldn’t be worse than the feeling of a minor sunburn for a few days.

If the machines are used incorrectly, more serious side effects including burning, pigmentation, and scarring could occur. It is important to find an experienced provider to make sure your treatment is done with a machine approved for your skin type and hair color.

What should I expect during a laser hair removal treatment?

During treatment, a laser emits a concentrated beam of light to target the pigment in your hair. The heat from the laser damages hair follicles, preventing hair regrowth. You may feel mild discomfort, like a warm pinprick, as the laser is passed over your skin.

How much does laser hair removal cost?

The average cost of laser hair removal is about $900.

“There are many factors that contribute to cost such as areas being treated, type of laser being used, and location of the facility,” says Dr. Stephen T. Greenberg, a New York plastic surgeon, in a laser hair removal Q&A. “Typically, laser hair removal requires six treatments about four to six weeks apart.”

How should I prepare for laser hair removal?

You should not wax, tweeze, or pluck hair for at least two weeks before your laser hair removal treatment. Treatments target the root of the hair, and waxing, tweezing, and plucking removes the root and leaves nothing for the laser to target. The day before or the day of your laser hair removal treatment, shave the area you plan to have lasered.

You should also avoid sun exposure, tanning beds, and tanning lotions for several weeks before your treatment.

Is laser hair removal right for me?

Laser hair removal is most effective if you have light skin and dark hair, but it works on darker skin as well.

”For individuals with darker skin tones, laser hair removal can be done safely with the right laser.”

Dr. Steven H. Williams

“However, there are many lasers that can cause permanent discoloration of darker skin, so it is recommended that you discuss this with your provider prior to treatment.”