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Laser hair removal for men

Article-Laser hair removal for men

Key iconKey Points

  • Laser hair removal gets rid of large areas of hair
  • Minimal pain is involved
  • There is no downtime

The war against unwanted hair is not strictly a women's battle, as more men are shaving, waxing and plucking their way to hairless chests, backs and faces. A more effective weapon, laser hair removal, is a semipermanent to permanent option that can zap away both large and small areas of hair with minimal pain and no downtime.

"Initially, the patient may notice that it takes longer for the treated hair to regrow than after shaving, plucking or tweezing," says Ronald Wheeland, M.D., professor of dermatologic surgery, University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo. "After several treatments, the period of delayed regrowth becomes longer and longer, and the number of hairs that regrow is reduced," he says. Certain skin types do better with lasers, while others face certain risks. "The ideal candidate has light skin (Fitzpatrick types I, II or III) and dark brown or black hair," Dr. Wheeland says.

Though this type is ideal, says Joely Kaufman, M.D., a professor of dermatology at the University of Miami, Miami, Fla., newer devices can treat any skin type and any hair with at least some pigment. "Light hair seems to be the toughest to remove, and white hairs still cannot be removed with lasers at this point in time," she says.

Some discomfort is involved, depending on the type of laser, hair type (color and thickness) and treatment site, Dr. Kaufman says, and a topical anesthetic can be applied prior to the procedure. Mild redness and swelling can be expected for 12 to 24 hours post-treatment, Dr. Wheeland says.

"Each treatment can take anywhere from five minutes (upper lip) to up to an hour (full back)," Dr. Kaufman says, depending on the area being treated.

In addition, multiple treatments are usually required to correspond with the hair growth cycle. "At least three sessions are required for most areas, with sessions spaced an average of one month apart," Dr. Kaufman says.

Dr. Wheeland says, "The most important fact for patients to know before treatment is that multiple treatments will be required to obtain satisfactory results, and that results will vary from one body site to another, and from one person to another."

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