If your son or daughter has been blessed with an unusually hirsute appearance, even as a young child, you may be wondering about laser hair removal treatment as an option before they hit puberty. But this medical procedure can carry with it some risks, even for adult patients. How early is too early for laser hair removal, and is laser hair removal for tweens or teens safe? Read on to learn more about the nuts and bolts of this procedure to determine whether it's an acceptable risk for your child. 

What Happens During Laser Hair Removal? 

Laser hair removal works by targeting each individual hair and killing it at its root, preventing regrowth. Shaving merely cuts the hair at the skin's surface, while waxing or depilatories can kill the hair right down to the root, slowing regrowth but not stopping it. By zapping the root with a laser, dermatologists can prevent hair from ever growing from a certain follicle again. Sometimes a single session is enough to accomplish visible results, but in most cases, patients will need to return for a few subsequent treatments to ensure no regrowth begins later.

The laser hair removal process itself is relatively painless. Some patients have reported the laser, which can make a cracking or crackling sound upon application, may feel like snapping a rubber band across their skin. But others find it to be entirely painless, and even those with sensitive skin don't tend to have strong reactions.

Is There a Minimum Age for Laser Hair Removal?

During puberty, the texture of body hair, including facial hair, can often change from fine and smooth to thick and wiry. For parents worried about the impact puberty will have on children who are already hairier than average, pursuing laser hair removal pre-puberty can seem like the wisest course of action to avoid bullying, teasing, and the resulting self-consciousness.

Many dermatologists have indicated there aren't any biological reasons to avoid laser hair removal for children or teens. Hair follicles can grow hair at just about any age, so targeting these follicles before puberty won't have a noticeable impact on the effectiveness of treatment. However, the pain (however slight) and stress that may be caused by the process, as well as the potential for lack of informed consent, can make it a less than ideal option for very young children. It's important to ensure that if your child or teen is choosing laser hair removal, they're doing so of their own free will.