Laser hair removal is the number one way to permanently diminish unwanted body hair. In fact, over 1.4 million procedures were performed in 2007 alone. But if you’re like most people, you probably don’t know much about the procedure itself, or what to expect afterward. Don’t worry, though – laser hair removal sessions are pretty no-nonsense, and so are the aftercare instructions. We’ll give you the rundown on:
- What you can expect from your first laser hair removal session.
- Any potential side effects and complications.
- How to care for your skin after a session.
But first, a little bit about the workings behind the science. The science behind laser hair removal is simple. Laser hair removal uses laser light pulses that selectively destroy hair follicles by targeting the melanin in them. This means the pigment in the hair follicles absorbs the laser’s light pulse, damaging the follicle enough to significantly slow down hair growth. Because the lasers target melanin, coarse, dark hair and light skin combinations tend to respond best to treatment. But that’s not to say that you can’t undergo laser hair removal sessions if you have darker skin. Newer lasers such as the Nd:YAG allows laser hair removal to be performed safely and effectively on individuals of different ethnicities.
First Things First
So what can you expect from your first laser hair removal session? First, you’ll be given protective eye gear and an elective topical anesthetic. Once the session begins, you’ll feel a stinging sensation, indicating that the laser has been activated. The actual session involves a series of laser pulses that produce a prickling and burning sensation. Don’t worry – it doesn’t hurt too badly. In fact, the feeling is similar to that of a rubber band snapping against your skin. The whole session takes anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes, depending on the area and your hair type.
When the session is over, you may be given ice packs, anti-inflammatory creams or lotions, or cold water to ease any discomfort. You may schedule your next treatment four to six weeks later. You’ll receive treatments until hair stops growing. After a series of six laser hair removal sessions, most people notice that most of their hair is gone. It’s that effective!
It Can Get Hairy
You might experience some side effects. Everyone’s different and therefore reacts differently. The good news is that most side effects are temporary and usually subside within 24 hours.
The most common side effect is skin irritation. Skin irritation directly after a laser hair removal session is perfectly normal. Residual itchiness or pinkness might persist for up to 24 hours, and some people describe the sensation as feeling very similar to razor burn. Cool compresses and moisturizers may help. If your face was treated, you can wear makeup the next day unless your skin is blistering. If your skin irritation lasts longer than 24 hours, you should call your healthcare professional for further instructions.
You may also notice blackheads or stubble that is pushing its way out of the follicle. This is also perfectly normal. The blackheads or stubble are caused by the follicles shedding the hairs that were in the growth phase of their cycle – also called the anagen phase. Exfoliating is most important during this process so the hairs can shed easier. You should do this three times a week. But remember: you don’t want to irritate your skin, so make sure to be gentle!
You can cut, trim or shave hair as necessary, but don’t tweeze, pluck or wax new hair growth.
You might also notice some hair regrowth. The follicles that were resting will be “waking up” over the next few weeks, and they will still produce hair. You can cut, trim or shave hair as necessary, but don’t tweeze, pluck or wax new hair growth. Remember that your next appointment will be in four to eight weeks, and you will need to leave the hair in their shafts in order for the laser to produce results. You can also use a chemical depilatory such as Nair in-between appointments but refrain from using it within two days of your next treatment.
Although complications resulting from laser hair removal are rare, they can still happen. You may experience pigment changes, blistering, crusting, scarring or other changes in skin texture. If you notice any of these complications, call your doctor immediately – it could signal an infection.
After The Laser Hair Removal Session
In addition to gently exfoliating and shaving, you should wear sunscreen. You want your skin to be as light as possible during treatments, so don’t go tanning or forget to wear sunscreen. If you do get a sunburn, it will further irritate your skin. Use a sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher for two weeks before and after each treatment.
Each laser hair removal specialist has his or her own set of aftercare instructions, but here are some additional universal aftercare tips that will aid the recovery process:
- For 24 to 48 hours afterward, don’t use any saunas or steam rooms, take hot showers or baths, or go swimming.
- Don’t apply any makeup to the area for 24 hours. The only exception is mineral makeup, which can be applied immediately.
- Don’t apply any perfumed products to the area for 24 to 48 hours following treatment.
- Do apply aloe vera gel to the skin to sooth it.
- Do arrive at the laser hair removal appointment with the area to be treated shaved and trimmed for treatment. Some laser hair specialists charge a fee for clients who come unprepared. Facial hair, however, generally doesn’t need to be clipped back or shaved prior to treatment.
If you experience any blistering, do open a vitamin E capsule and apply it liberally three times a day to aid healing. Don’t burst the blister because this may leave a mark on the skin. Don’t expose the affected area to sunshine, as you may increase the risk of pigmentation.
Say Goodbye to Unwanted Hair with LaserAway
Are you interested in learning more about laser hair removal? Then contact LaserAway.
We’re proud to offer the most medical spa service options of any national skincare provider. We hire only the most highly trained staff experienced and certified in administering laser and other dermatological procedures. What’s more, we use only innovative techniques and cutting-edge laser technology. We aim to make your medical spa experience comfortable, enjoyable and satisfying. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today by emailing LaserAway.com or calling the staff at LaserAway at (888) 965-2737. LaserAway looks forward to making sure you never have to shave or wax again.