What are the Different Types of Permanent Laser Hair Reduction?

Marjorie McAtee

Permanent laser hair reduction is a hair removal treatment that uses laser light to target follicles and reduce hair growth. Laser hair removal can have long-lasting results, though several sessions are generally needed to achieve permanent hair removal or reduction. There are at least five types of lasers commonly used in laser hair removal — the ruby laser, Alexandrite laser, the intense pulsed light device, the pulsed diode laser, and the long pulse laser. Different lasers may be more appropriate for different skin and hair types.

Laser hair reduction involves using a laser to target hair follicles to reduce growth.
Laser hair reduction involves using a laser to target hair follicles to reduce growth.

Side effects of permanent laser hair reduction can include swelling, inflammation, blisters, and crusting. Complications can include permanent changes in skin color, scarring, and infection.

Lasers can be used to permanently remove hair.
Lasers can be used to permanently remove hair.

Laser hair removal uses laser light to destroy hair follicles without causing damage to surrounding tissue. It can cause a certain amount of discomfort in the treatment area, so some patients may benefit from the use of anesthetic. Permanent laser hair reduction typically takes three to six sessions to achieve. These sessions are usually spaced four to 12 weeks apart, depending on hair's color and thickness.

Hair reduction can be achieved using one of at least five kinds of lasers. The ruby laser was among the first hair removal lasers developed. It's best suited for removing or delaying the growth of fine, dark hairs. It's not as effective for removing white, blond, or gray hairs. Patients with darker complexions stand an increased risk of complications when undergoing ruby laser hair removal.

The Alexandrite laser can offer reduced treatment times, because this laser pulsates faster than other lasers. Again, it often works best on fine, dark hairs. Because it works quickly, it is often used to reduce hair growth across wider areas of the torso, legs, and arms. The Alexandrite laser is generally safer than the ruby laser for patients with darker complexions.

The intense pulsed light device is not, technically, considered a laser. It can achieve hair reduction or removal in much the same manner, however. It is considered generally safe for patients with darker complexions, and it can remove both coarse and fine dark hairs. The pulsed diode laser, on the other hand, can often effectively remove coarse, dark hairs, but is generally ineffective for removing fine hairs. The pulsed diode laser is also considered generally safe for use on dark skin types.

The long pulse, or Nd Yag, laser may carry the least risk of complications and side effects from permanent laser hair reduction, but its effectiveness remains unproven. Like the Alexandrite laser, this laser pulsates quickly and can be used to achieve permanent laser hair reduction over large areas of the body. It can remove light, fine hairs, but is still considered most effective on coarse, dark hairs. It is considered safe for use on patients with darker complexions.

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