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I am considering laser hair removal. I have noted this before. Does it come back? What are the risks?

Question posted by Nitz from Toronto

I am 35 years old with darker skin (Asian). I am considering laser hair removal but would like to know the risks (as I am told darker skinned people cannot get laser hair removal). I am also wondering if the hair grows back? Can you recommend a type of treatment? How many? I do understand that “some” hair can grow back (new hairs) but am wondering to what degree? The area I am looking at is the under-arm.


Doctor's Response

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One thought on “I am considering laser hair removal. I have noted this before. Does it come back? What are the risks?

  • Dear Nitz,

    It is a common misconception of darker skin patients that they cannot undergo successful laser hair removal.  Although darker skin does pose more significant concerns as there is more melanin in the skin and the laser’s targeting melanin in the hair shaft newer high tech lasers and techniques can avoid or minimize most of the concerns and problems.  First and foremost you should seek out a laser hair removal centre with a tremendous amount of experience in treating darker skin patients.  It is important that a laser centre have multiple wavelengths of light. 

    At SpaMedica we have been performing laser hair removal for over 15 years.  During this decade and a half we have treated many dark skin patients, Asian, Hispanic and Canadian Caribbean dark skin.  It is critical that we use specific wavelengths of lights and specific lasers to minimize the risk of the melanin in the skin, but still optimize permanent reduction of hair.  The best laser wavelengths for dark skin are the 810-nanometer diode family, which includes the light sheer, the Vectus and the more recent Diolaze.  The 810-nanometer can be modified to a longer pulse duration generally 80-100 milliseconds with slightly lower energy combined with strong skin cooling to provide effective permanent reduction of dark hair in darker skin individuals. 

    The other wavelength of light that can be successful in darker skin individuals is the 1064 nm, neodymium YAG or Nd YAG.  The 1060 or Nd YAG is the least likely to be attracted to dark melanin in the skin, but is also least likely to be attracted to the melanin in the hair shaft.  Higher energies can be used then on the 810 nm diodes with shorter pulse durations.  The 1064 neodymium YAG family which includes such devices as the Cynosure Elite, the Candella Syneron GentleMax Pro are two of the better Nd YAG products on the market.  Combining 810 diode with radio frequency
    energy can also be successful in darker skin.

    At SpaMedica we combine the 810 diodes and an Nd YAG with a multiple laser, multiple wavelength, multiple treatment approach to darker skin such as Asian or Hispanic.  With this multilaser, multi wavelength, multi treatment approach we can generally achieve between 50% and 85% permanent reduction.  As you must treat the dividing cells of the hair follicle when they are actively dividing you need to treat generally once every 4-6 weeks for a minimum of 5-7 treatments.  On average after six treatments most actively dividing hair shafts and their bulbs will have been treated with effective energy.  We generally treat 3-4 times with an 810 diode (the LightSheer, the Vectus or the InMode Diolaze) and then 3-4 treatments with an Nd YAG (either Cynosure’s Elite or Syneron Candella’s the GentleMax Pro).

    Although between 10% and 25% of the hair may still grow back we are successful in significantly lengthening the sleeping phase, making the hair much less coarse and not as dark and offer a client pricing favourable laser hair removal club after your first six treatments when you can come in any time and for very affordable prices quickly treat the unwanted hair with a laser.

    Laser hair removal can be quite affordable and treatment packages for small zones of the axilla can be priced very favourably compared to ongoing waxing or depilatory techniques or even electrolysis.

    The risk in treating dark skin without the approach outlined above is significant dermal injury to the skin and hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation.  Occasionally even with these techniques mentioned, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation of the armpit needs to be treated with bleaching agents to reduce the pigment.

    I hope this information has been of some assistance and I think with selecting the right laser hair removal centre you should achieve good to excellent permanent reduction. 
    Good luck.

    If you’d like to schedule a consultation at SpaMedica simply call (416) 922-2868 or visit our website and fill out an e-mail online consultation request form.

    R. Stephen Mulholland, M.D.

    Certified Plastic Surgeon

    Yorkville, Toronto

Additional Information

Laser Hair Removal (Light Based Hair Removal and Laser Hair Reduction)

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