Thinking about undergoing laser hair removal?
There are some facts you need to know before you do so.
Here is the important information you should know before receiving a laser hair removal treatment:
Laser hair removal uses an intense, pulsating beam of light to remove unwanted hair. The concentrated beam of light is aimed at hair, and the light is then absorbed by the pigment, which damages the follicle enough to inhibit future hair growth. The most common areas that are treated include legs, armpits, upper lip, chin, and bikini line.
But with laser hair removal, it is possible to treat unwanted hair in pretty much any area, except the delicate area surrounding the eye.
The success of a laser hair removal treatment depends on several factors, including hair color and skin type. In general, laser hair removal tends to be most effective on those with light skin and dark hair since the laser beam targets the pigment in the hair.
People with darker skin can use newer laser technologies like the Nd:YAG and Diode lasers. These lasers are able to safely and effectively remove unwanted hair in those with darker skin tones. That being said, laser hair removal tends to not be as effective on white, gray, red, or blond hair, but clients can still achieve results with the right type of laser.
It is important to remember that while laser hair removal slows hair growth, resulting in permanent hair reduction over several sessions, it does not guarantee permanent hair removal. Periodic maintenance treatments might be needed to maintain results.
What should you look for in a laser hair removal provider?
Ideally, you want to choose either a dermatologist, licensed nurse, physician’s assistant, or laser technician with experience and qualifications in laser hair removal. Be cautious about spas, salons, or other facilities that allow non-medical personnel to do laser hair removal.
The best way to find out if laser hair removal is right for you is to schedule a consultation with a medical provider before the procedure. The doctor will most likely use this visit to:
- Review your medical history, including medication use.
- Discuss risks, benefits and expectations, including what laser hair removal can and can’t do for you.
- Take photos to be used for the before-and-after assessments and long-term reviews.
During your consultation, the medical provider will also offer specific tips to help you prepare for laser hair removal, including:
STAYING OUT OF THE SUN
A tan increases the risk of side effects, such as skin lightening. If you have a tan, either from sun exposure or sunless tanning products, wait until the tan fades completely before undergoing laser hair removal. Some doctors recommend staying out of the sun for up to six weeks before a laser hair removal procedure.
AVOIDING PLUCKING, WAXING, AND ELECTROLYSIS
These hair removal methods can disturb the hair follicle and interfere with laser hair removal. Shaving is acceptable, however, since it preserves the hair shaft and follicle.
Some medical providers may actually request that, on the day before your treatment, you shave with a clean, new razor. By shaving, the lasers will be able to locate the follicles. Using a clean, new razor ensures there is no lingering bacteria that could cause contact dermatitis after your laser treatment.
REVIEWING YOUR SKINCARE REGIMEN
If you are using certain anti-aging products on your skin, your hair removal specialist might ask you to discontinue use for a few days before and after your appointment. Some ingredients that might cause irritation include alpha-hydroxy acid, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and others.
CALLING WITH QUESTIONS
Your medical provider will understand that your first last hair removal experience can be stressful. Even with preparation, it is difficult to know exactly what to expect. If you have questions or concerns, do not hesitate to call your medical provider. He or she will answer all of your questions so that you are as comfortable as possible when you arrive for your appointment.
CLEANING THE SKIN
On the day of your laser hair removal session, make sure to clean the skin at the treatment site and leave it free of cosmetics, lotions, and creams. If you have applied deodorant, it will be removed prior to treatment.
WEARING APPROPRIATE CLOTHING
Be sure to wear clothing that will either leave the treated area exposed or is loose fitting enough to allow your medical provider access to the area. What is more, the treated area may have a soothing topical cream applied that you do not want to get on clothing. Tight or abrasive clothing will feel uncomfortable if the skin is sensitive after treatment.
Remember that your healthcare professional might give you additional or slightly different instructions based on your specific circumstances. Be sure to follow your provider’s instructions carefully, and call if you have any questions or if something is unclear.
Aftercare instructions are very similar to pre-treatment ones.
Immediately following your laser hair removal treatment, and for two weeks thereafter, you should avoid unprotected sun exposure. If you have to expose yourself to the sun, then be sure to apply sunscreen with SPF 20 or higher.
Patients undergoing laser hair removal treatments should refrain from waxing or tweezing as a hair removal option. While receiving laser treatments, please shave to remove remaining hair in-between laser sessions.
Following these simple words of advice can mean the difference between success and failure when it comes to laser hair removal. And given that laser hair removal can free you from the hassle of more traditional methods of hair removal, you definitely want to ensure that your laser hair removal session is successful.