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Your Questions about Laser Hair Removal Answered!

Oct 07, 2021

Laser Hair Removal
We asked Dr. Snehal Amin, board certified dermatologist, fellowship trained dermatologic surgeon and laser specialist to answer common questions our patients ask about laser hair removal and other types of hair removal in general. Here are the answers!

Dr. Snehal Amin Why is skin tone so important in hair removal? What can happen if the skin's color is ignored?
There are two main reasons to take note of skin color or Fitzpatrick skin type in patients who are interested in hair removal.First, patients with darker skin are more likely to develop hyperpigmentation than patients with lighter skin tones. So, we must be extra careful in patients with Fitzpatrick skin types 3 and higher. This issue is relevant even when applying non-light based therapies such as threading or waxing,The second reason is important if the patient is getting a light based treatment such as Alexandrite laser or intense pulsed light (IPL). These light based devices remove hair by heating up the hair within the follicle. The superheated hair then damages the hair stem cells at the base of the follicle so that no more hair grows within that follicle. If the hair is dark, it absorbs a lot of light and results in more heat generation. If the hair is of a lighter color, it will not absorb light and little heat will be generated. If the skin covering the hair follicle is dark, it can block the laser from reaching the hair follicle which is deep in the skin. The worst case occurs when dark skin absorbs all the laser light and heat up excessively. This is essentially a superficial burn. Therefore, we can now understand why a patient with dark hair and light skin is a great candidate for laser hair removal. Darker skin tone patients can also be treated very sucessfully with laser hair removal, but only with specific laser types in the hands of an experienced physician. More treatment sessions are usually required.
When can hair removal methods lead to pigmentation? and what types of removal methods does this most commonly occur with?
Some types of lasers are better suited for darker skin types. Usually we apply the Diode or Nd:YAG type of laser for dark skin. Alexandrite or ruby lasers can be used on light skin. In the above paragraph, we noted that lasers work by creating heat in the hair follicle. We can reduce heat generation in the superficial skin by applying something cold like a spray of frozen air. Over cooling of the skin can also cause problems. A small spot of frostbite-like reaction will lead to a darker or lighter area.
What are the most reliable methods of hair removal for eliminating the hair at the root?
The best type of hair removal depends on the patient. Patients who want long term hair reduction can get lasers treatments with Diode, NdYag, IPL type devices. Selecting the right laser or light based device for a particular patient is based on the doctor's experience, training and skills.
How have advancements in laser hair removal made it easier and more accessible to get rid of unwanted hair?
One of the most important advancements in laser hair removal involved the development of the NdYAG laser. This wavelength of light is absorbed by melanin more than hemoglobin and it goes deeper into the skin. These characteristics make this type of laser ideally suited for patients with darker skin types. Also excellent for all skin type patients are the Diode lasers which have an excellent safety profile. In our practice we utilize state of the art Diode and NdYag Lasers. Laser Hair Removal is available at our Manhattan, Commack, Smithtown, Hampton Bays and Plainview locations. 
What methods cause ingrown hairs and redness in the skin after the hair has been removed? why does this happen?
Any hair removal method can lead to ingrown hairs after  the treatment. After the hair is removed, the new hair that starts to grow, despite being smaller, gets caught under skin because the hair follicle opening is closed up.
What areas is shaving best for? Skin tone? What are the pros and cons of shaving?
Shaving is easy and reversible, good for all skin types. If you get razor bumps on the neck or legs, then it may make sense to partial or complete laser hair removal in these areas. Laser hair removal will remove the '5-o'clock shadow' on the face. We have many trans patients who prefer the smoother, shadow-less face so they benefit from complete laser hair removal rather than shaving. 
What areas is waxing best for? Skin tone? What are the pros and cons of waxing?
waxing can be done anywhere but it is painful when done on larger hairs. Any skin tone is fine with waxing but its important to be gentle and avoid irritated skin.
Why does retinol need to be avoided before waxing?
Retinol increase skin cell turnover.