Laser hair removal (LHR) is now among the most common cosmetic laser procedures performed in the United States. Other methods of hair removal include shaving, waxing, tweezing, depilation, and elec trolysis. Although both LHR and electrolysis may achieve permanent hair removal, LHR is less painful, allows for more efficient treatment of large surface areas, and is substantially less likely to scar. In addi tion, a recent survey found that most patients are satisfied with LHR compared with other methods of hair removal.
Photoepilation, or the removal of hair with light, may be accomplished photomechanically, photo chemically, or photothermally. Photomechanical removal utilizes shock waves. Photochemical removal may use free radicals generated by the combination of a photosensitizer and light. Photothermal removal, which takes advantage of light-generated heat, is the most widely used and studied LHR method and is the focus of this article.