ZocdocAnswersWhat do I need to know about laser hair removal?

Question

What do I need to know about laser hair removal?

Will there be any scarring? I'm a 30 year old African American woman.

Answer

Laser hair removal is becoming more and more popular as a permanent hair reduction technique. Laser hair removal is a technique that selectively targets hair follicles for destruction using the heat produced by the laser light. In order to be successful, the technique needs some contrast in color between the skin and the hair. Therefore it works best on those with light colored skin and dark hair. It works much less well on those with light hair and light skin and those with dark skin and dark hair. Given your ethnic background, laser hair removal therefore may not be the best option. There are definitely specialists with lots of experience in the technique who can still achieve a good result, but you would want to make sure that you picked your specialist well. Also, a possible complication of hair removal is something called post inflammatory hypo pigmentation. This happens when inflammation in the skin from the laser causes loss of color in the skin, leading to (sometimes very profoundly) under colored areas of skin. This can be very cosmetically unsightly, worse than the presence of hair in many cases. There are specialized laser powers which are supposed to reduced the risk of this complication, but African Americans are still at heightened risk of hypo pigmentation, so it is definitely still something to consider carefully.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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