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.
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:
- Always provide your treatment provider with a list of current medications. There are certain medications that can be contraindicative to a laser treatment.
- 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.
- 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.
- For facial laser hair removal discontinue the use of any retinol products at least one week prior to treatment.
After a treatment:
- 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.
- 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.
- Some itchiness is also common. Apply a hydrocortisone cream to assuage any discomfort.
- 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.