At-home laser hair removal: Can you do it yourself?

August 6, 2011

At-home laser hair removal: Can you do it yourself?
At-home laser hair removal: Can you do it yourself?

When it comes to cosmetic procedures, there are many that must be performed in a hospital or surgical center under the close watch medical professionals, and there are others that can be performed in an office on an outpatient basis.

While laser hair removal falls into the latter category, some individuals are pushing the envelope by purchasing at-home laser hair removal kits that claim to offer the same results as those done by a licensed, board-certified cosmetic surgeon at a lower cost. But do these at-home treatments work as well as professional ones? And, are they safe?

According to, professional laser hair removal has been offered in dermatology and other medical practices since 1996. It is a very established treatment with proven results. In fact, as many as 1.4 million laser hair removal procedures are performed each year in the U.S. alone.

While several at-home options are currently available, experts say that they often do not offer the same results or have gone through the same rigorous testing as professionally administered laser treatments.

"The companies say after five treatments you have a 50 to 70 percent reduction in hair growth," an industry expert told ABC News. "I expect 70 to 100 percent from office devices."
At-home laser hair removal kits may also be painful to administer.

TRIA, one of the at-home devices is on sale at Bergdorf Goodman and Nordstrom for $395 and was tested by volunteers from New York Magazine. The device is ideal for those with lighter colored skin and darker hair and has had proven results, but the main complaint was the pain associated with each zap.

The machine has 5 strength levels and one volunteer said, “At the third setting, the shocks were constant and too much to bear.” A braver soul with a higher pain threshold used the device for 6 months and thought “there was minimal pain on the arms and legs, but level five in the underarm and bikini areas is not a pleasant experience.”

Experts tend to err on the side of caution, saying, "I believe it should be done with medical assistance. The risks of any device are burning, redness, even scarring if done inappropriately."

Also, a doctor could gauge the setting levels and use a topical anesthetic when necessary to avoid painful treatments that produce less than optimal hair removal. It’s important to remember that professionals are trained to effectively use lasers, so those using them on their own are often left to their own devices, which can yield unpleasant and even dangerous results.

The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASAPS, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to

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The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world's leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body. ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; Active Members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and nonsurgical aesthetic procedures. International Active Members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.


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