A Chain That Zaps Rogue Follicles

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We are obsessed with unwanted body hair. That explains why laser hair removal is now the most popular nonsurgical cosmetic procedure after botox. A Tampa company is even franchising the concept. Ideal Image, with nine centers in the Southeast offering nothing but hair removal, just announced plans for 16 more across the U.S. by midsummer. About 18% of customers are men, says CEO Dean Akers. Usually they come to zap back hair, at $4,000 to $5,000 for five treatments. Women more likely want facial hair removed, which might cost $700 to $1,000.

The low-energy laser used to get rid of hair permanently targets the darker pigment in hair follicles. Patients usually experience only mild discomfort, but there is a risk of burns. So it’s important to make sure a physician oversees the facility, says Dr. Jay Calvert, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon. If the laser operator is not an M.D., the next best thing is a nurse or physician’s assistant licensed to perform laser procedures.