The "in's and outs" of laser hair removal: a mini review

J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2019;21(6):316-322. doi: 10.1080/14764172.2019.1605449. Epub 2019 Apr 24.


Conventional treatments for excessive hair are tedious and time consuming. Laser hair removal has become the leading therapy option for long-term results. It works on the principle of selective photothermolysis, whereby photons destroy the hair follicle while sparing the surrounding tissue. As demand increases, there has been an increase in the regulation of these treatments. Laser hair removal is not risk-free and side effects are associated with the treatment. Adequate training is vital to minimise adverse side effects. Certain countries have regulatory boards that laser operators need to register with, as well as the completion of mandatory hours. Others require laser operators to register with a Care Quality Commission (CQC) to ensure that minimum training and safety standards are met. Currently, in South Africa, the lack of regulatory boards and mandatory hours poses a risk to the public as anyone with little or no qualification is allowed to perform laser hair removal treatments, placing patients at risk. This review looks at some of the devices used and basic mechanisms of action of laser hair removal, its associated risks, side effects and current regulation.

Keywords: Lasers and light sources; intense pulsed light; laser hair removal; training.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Hair Removal / adverse effects
  • Hair Removal / methods*
  • Humans
  • Lasers / adverse effects
  • Lasers / classification
  • Low-Level Light Therapy / adverse effects
  • Low-Level Light Therapy / methods*
  • Patient Safety