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Your laser hair removal questions, answered!

May 4, 2012 at 11:12 AM ET

After seeing Kathie Lee and Hoda get lasered and lifted, live during the fourth hour's special "Needles, Knives or Nothing" show, you sent us your questions on Facebook about laser hair removal. You wanted to know about skin tone, cost and effectiveness, most of all. Dr. Jeanine Downie, a dermatologist who also specializes in sclerotherapy, has your answers!

Q. How many times does it take to get rid of hair when you have laser hair removal? Melinda 

A. It depends on how thick your hair is and where it is on your body. Hormonally mediated areas (upper lip, chin) can take longer than legs as hormones influence hair growth in these areas. Typically, it is 14 treatment sessions with three months off and then six treatment sessions with six months off for people to see clearing. Each person is different. Bottom line: Laser hair removal takes years, and judging from how popular it is, it's worth it. 

Q. How effective is laser hair removal for women with olive to dark skin? I want to do my legs, but apparently laser captures dark pigmentation and not the hair follicle? Meghan 

A. It is very effective for olive to dark skin, which is my skin tone. You must seek out a doctor who has a machine that is safe for darker skin types. Usually I recommend the Lyra by Cutera or the Gentle Lase by Candela. I would need to see you to evaluate you, but just make sure the doctor is board-certified and has other laser patients that share your complexion. 

Q. I’ve been told I am the perfect candidate for laser hair removal: coarse hair and fair skin. How do I know where to get it done? Anything I should look out for? Everyone’s pricing is different, but does that mean treatment and results are also different? Courtney 

A. Get the treatments done with a board-certified dermatologist that you were referred to, preferably by a friend or family member who has used them. With pricing, you get what you pay for! Watch out for the bottom-feeders!

Q. Is there a 100% pain-free method of laser hair removal? Rachel 

A.  No, there is no 100% pain-free anything with any cosmetic procedure. I think it stings, but is worth it. I have men in my practice that tear up in pain and others that feel nothing.

Q. The hair I want to get rid of is blonde. They tell me that laser removal won’t work on blonde hair. What is the best method to remove it? Melody 

A. Laser is unreliable on blonde hair. Patch test on one area for four months before you decide. Otherwise, threading, waxing and sugaring all work.

Q. What is more effective, laser hair removal or electrolysis? Leah 

A.  Laser hair removal is permanent; electrolysis is not. Both take forever and electrolysis is more painful, too.

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