Does Laser Hair Removal Actually Work?

by Courtney Leiva

Summer is literally on the tip of our tongues, but with the arrival of crop tops, cutoffs and flip flops, comes the dreaded task of hair removal (at least for some of us). Before you cringe in horror at that razor nearby, know that there’s plenty of hair removal options to try; one being laser hair removal. Sure you've heard a lot about this popular process by now, but like me, you’re probably wondering if laser hair removal really works?

“Absolutely it works,” Dr. Nasimeh Yazdani, M.D. at the Beverly Hills Rejuvenation Center tells me. "It's the most common medical aesthetic procedure being performed in centers throughout the world.” OK, fine. But HOW does it work? Am I getting myself into a dangerous game of follicle destruction?

Despite it’s booming popularity, most people think of laser hair removal looks like something straight out of Star Wars. However, instead of those sci-fi scenarios you've been dreaming up inside your head, laser hair removal actually works through a pulsating beam of light which targets each hair follicle to stop any pending hair growth. OK... maybe it is a little sci-fi-ish.

“The way it works is that the laser light latches on to the hair follicle going underneath your skin and traveling down to the root of the hair,” explains Adriana Martino, laser medical esthetician and founder of NYC's SKINNEY Medspa. “The laser is using your hair to absorb heat. We all know wearing black colors in the summer will absorb more sun than wearing white. The darker the color, the more heat absorption.”

Often more long-lasting than shaving and waxing, laser hair removal often tends to be costly in comparison. However, despite it’s steeping cost, laser hair removal definitely has its advantages.

“One of the biggest advantages of laser hair removal is the speed of the treatment in comparison electrolysis, which is much more time consuming,” says Dr. Nasimeh Yazdani, M.D. “If the technique is performed properly, it can be less painful than other methods and is more effective for removing hair from large areas such as backs and legs.”

However, like any coveted beauty treatment, laser hair removal does have it’s drawbacks. Side effects, for example, can vary depending on the patient.

“There can be side effects that can range from itching or swelling (which will disappear after a few days) to more serious (but rare) side effects like burning, skin discoloration, blistering and infection,” explains Dr. Nasimeh Yazdani, M.D.

And while laser hair removal will definitely get the job done, certain hair types have better success with the process as opposed to others.

“Since the laser targets melanin (pigment that gives skin and hair color), people with dark hair (more melanin) have more success with this treatment than people with light hair,” adds Dr. Nasimeh Yazdani, M.D.

And then there’s the unavoidable cost factor. This treatment costs a pretty penny, especially since some treatments can go into the hundreds of dollars. Plus, with laser hair removal not being a permanent process, you definitely will find yourself prone to continuous upkeep.

“The cost of treatment varies by the size of the area being treated,” says Dr. Nasimeh Yazdani, M.D.. “Several treatments are needed (usually six to eight) to remove hair from the desired area. The time each session takes will depend on how big the hair removal area is.”

In short, laser treatment definitely removes hair longer than that of shaving and waxing, however, it does not guarantee permanent hair removal. But If you love trying new treatments, then by all means be sure to give this process a go.

Images: Lies Thru A Lens/Flickr, Giphy (1)