Laser, an acronym for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation," is simply a device that produces a beam of light. When used for hair removal, this light passes through the skin to the hair follicle, where the hair absorbs it and is destroyed.
Because the laser light is attracted to dark colors, those with light skin and dark hair often see the best results. Darker or tanned skin absorbs some of the laser light, which can cause burning. For these people, lower-level light is recommended, but often is less effective in removing hair. Lasers are not effective on white, gray or very blonde hair.
There are many types of lasers used for hair removal; the laser technology field is constantly changing, so be sure you're up to date before you decide whether this procedure is for you. Currently there are no guarantees that laser hair removal is permanent, but hair does tend to grow in lighter with each process. Laser treatment can be expensive so choose wisely, know what results to expect, and make sure you go to a reputable practitioner.
Reviewed: July 27, 2001