March 29, 2006 -- Laser hair removal is the second most popular cosmetic procedure in America. Many people are getting the procedure done at their local beauty parlors or at free-standing laser centers rather than at their doctors' offices.
Dr. Loretta Ciraldo, clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Miami and president of the Dade County Medical Association, came to "Good Morning America" to explain the benefits of the procedure as well as when not to use it.
Ciraldo said the laser destroyed hairs that were in the middle of growing so the treatment needed to be repeated every four weeks to eight weeks. It usually takes about a year to complete.
Laser treatments provide a permanent option for people looking to remove hair. For instance, if a woman wants to remove dark mustache hair, a laser treatment will cost between $600 and $1,800 while waxing and electrolysis cost about $25 to $30 each time. Waxing goes on forever, and electrolysis can last at least five years.
Laser treatments can differ vastly in price. At a spa, they can be as low as $50, but at a doctor's office, the procedure can run as high as $250 because of the different settings in laser treatments. A physician's setting costs more.
There are several risks to laser treatment:
Permanent staining of the skin
Do not get laser hair removal:
On white or blond hairs
If you have a tendency toward skin staining after surgery
If you are heavily suntanned or sunburned
Ciraldo said to ask your doctor for the hair removal cream Vaniqa if you were afraid to get laser treatment. Using it twice a day will diminish the appearance of hair, but it is not a permanent solution and is only good for a small area. The medication is used in chemotherapy, so using it in a large area can produce chemotherapylike side effects.
However, Vaniqa says that the product is completely safe.
"Vaniqa is a prescription topical cream FDA-cleared in the United States for the reduction of unwanted facial hair in women," said Vaniqa vice president of research and development Ron Trancik in a statement. "The side effects associated with Vaniqa are mild and skin-related."
For more information, visit the Society for Clinical and Medical Hair Removal.