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Everything You Need to Know About Laser Hair Removal

Women everywhere are opting for laser hair removal, as it has quickly become an affordable hair removal option. Although the procedure is quick and relatively painless, it’s still a laser procedure, and patients need to do their research, then closely follow instructions both before and after their procedure.

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For starters, understand that laser hair removal isn’t a guaranteed quick fix. Though it’s rare, recipients can experience burns, hyperpigmentation, and even increased hair growth (this is more common for darker skin tones). It’s also important to note that there’s no certification for performing laser hair removal, so estheticians and dermatologists alike can offer these treatments. A certified doctor is your best bet, most likely a dermatologist, but when searching for the right provider, ask lots of pointed questions.

Start by asking how many laser treatments they’ve performed, how many lasers they have at their office, and which type of laser they’d be using for the specific area of the body you’re inquiring about. Be sure you’re clear about expectations by asking how many sessions they expect you’ll need, and the price for each session.

Depending on the specific clinic and the laser they use your pre- and post-treatment instructions may differ, but here are some key need-to-know tips to avoid complications:

Before a laser hair removal treatment:

  1. Always provide your treatment provider with a list of current medications. There are certain medications that can be contraindicative to a laser treatment.
  2. Cancel that wax appointment! Before a laser hair removal treatment, waxing, threading, or tweezing need to be discontinued. However, it is advised to shave the area approximately 24 hours prior to the appointment.
  3. Spray tans and tanning beds are an absolute no. The laser light picks up pigment to heat the hair follicles and when skin is tanned — whether artificially or naturally — the laser can cause unnecessary damage to the surrounding tissue. If you’ve had sun exposure within 4 weeks of your appointment you should reschedule.
  4. For facial laser hair removal discontinue the use of any retinol products at least one week prior to treatment.

After a treatment:

  1. Don’t show off immediately. Avoiding sports activities, including the gym, hot water, saunas, steam rooms or jacuzzis for at least 24 hours is recommended.
  2. Swelling and redness is very typical. Especially immediately following a treatment, so don’t be overly concerned. Take some ibuprofen and apply an ice pack for some easy relief.
  3. Some itchiness is also common. Apply a hydrocortisone cream to assuage any discomfort.
  4. For at least four weeks after treatment it is advised to stay out of the sun and always wear an SPF for proper sun protection. This is especially important to prevent post-treatment discoloration.

Have another question about what you should — or shouldn’t — do before or after any laser treatment? Be sure to contact the clinic and your treatment specialist to get immediate instructions.

7 Comments
  1. I have issues with ingrown hairs on my legs which causes a lot of itching and irritation on my legs, especially after shaving (even with using a conditioning shave cream and an after shave spray). Is this procedure recommended/not recommended if you are prone to ingrown hair irritation, or is this a good solution to ingrown hairs?

  2. Thanks for the tips for laser hair removal. I am going to have some laser hair removal done, and I want to make sure I am ready for it. I like that you mentioned to make sure you apply hydrocortisone cream to avoid itchiness. I will make sure to get some of that.

  3. I had laser hair removal for my facial hair, I have polycystic ovary syndrome. The place swore it would work with no problem. It was a center for woman, not an actual dermatologist, and I didn’t think it mattered at the time. They used the highest setting they could, and it actually did cause some minor burning of my skin. It never worked for me, and my insurance wouldn’t cover it either, so that was a waste of money. I have strawberry blonde hair and light skin, so I’m guessing that’s why it didn’t work. I would do anything to get rid of the hair. Now I shave because the plucking was causing so many ingrown hairs. I do wonder if things have changed in the last 10 years, and maybe it would work if I tried it again.

  4. Thanks for helping me learn more about laser hair removal. I actually didn’t know that it’s important to make sure that you haven’t had sun exposure for 4 weeks before your appointment. My sister has been thinking of getting a hair removal treatment, so this may be good for her to know in the future depending on what treatment she may want to get.

  5. My sister is thinking to go through hair removal treatment. My mom agreed and actually wants to do it with her and shared this article with her. This article reminded the readers to provide the treatment provider with a list of current medications.

  6. Thanks for the tip to shave an area about 24 hours prior to an appointment for laser hair removal. I have some abnormal hair growth on my shoulders, and I am feeling that laser hair removal is my best option for taking care of it. When I take care of the hair on my shoulders, I’ll be sure to avoid waxing and tweezing, as well as shaving the area the day before.

  7. I agree that hair removal isn’t a guaranteed quick fix. My sister wants to have hairless skin because she’ll be going to the beach with her friends and she wants to wear a swimsuit. My mom suggested going through hair removal treatment and shared this article with her. It says that she should stay out of the sun and wear an SPF for proper sun protection.

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