Laser-Assisted Hair Removal in Asian Skin: Efficacy, Complications, and the Effect of Single Versus Multiple Treatments


Address correspondence and reprint requests to: David J. Goldberg, MD, Skin Laser and Surgery Specialists of New York/New Jersey, 20 Prospect Avenue, Suite 702, Hackensack, NJ 07601.


Background. Alexandrite laser hair removal can be quite successful in lighter skin types. Effective hair removal in Asians can be difficult, and multiple treatments are usually required for effective treatment.

Objective. To evaluate the safety and efficacy of alexandrite laser hair removal in Asian skin, to determine the benefit of multiple treatments, and to evaluate the value of test patches before laser treatment.

Methods. One hundred forty-four Asian subjects with Fitzpatrick skin types III to V were treated with a cooled 40-ms alexandrite laser with fluences of 16 to 24 J/cm2. Initially, all treated subjects underwent test patch application. After test patch application, 35 subjects with 66 anatomic sites received three treatments. Thirty-five subjects with 66 anatomic sites received two treatments, and 74 subjects with 124 anatomic received a single treatment. All subjects were followed for 9 months after their final treatment.

Results. In subjects that were treated three times, a 55% hair reduction was noted at 9 months after the third treatment. In subjects treated two times, a 44% hair reduction was noted at 9 months after the second treatment. In subjects treated only one time, a 32% hair reduction was noted at 9 months after the single treatment. No subjects had scarring or long-term pigmentary changes. There appeared to be no correlation between test patch acute complications and those seen after actual treatments.

Conclusion. Although Asian skin can be effectively treated with a cooled, long-pulsed alexandrite laser, complications do occur. Laser hair removal efficacy was increased with multiple treatments. There does not appear to be an exact correlation in Asian skin between complications occurring after test patch treatment and those seen with subsequent treatments.