Did you know that laser hair removal can take months to complete? That you cannot get laser hair removal if you have a tan? That laser hair removal can actually cause more hair growth? Here are 10 things you should know before getting your unwanted hair lasered off.
Laser hair removal is a safe and effective way to permanently remove unwanted hair from the bikini area, underarms, legs, chest, back (gentleman), and even faces. It is not for everyone, however, and there are some things you should know before signing up this summer.
- Laser hair removal only works on pigmented hair. If you have light blond or white hair, then lasers won’t work! See How Laser Hair Removal Works to learn why.
- The darker your skin, the greater your risk of injury. Lasers target the pigment, not the actual hair, so dark pigment in the skin is more likely to absorb the laser’s energy.
- Plan ahead — you shouldn’t have laser hair removal done if you have a tan (and you should question anyone who is willing to do the treatment on you if you do). The brown pigment from your tan will be more likely to absorb the laser, leading to discoloration of your skin.
- It is important that you see a trained professional who is experienced in laser hair removal; choosing the right laser is critical in determining how many treatments are needed. Also, some lasers are not safe for some skin types.
- In some women, laser hair removal on the face can cause a paradoxical increase in hair growth! Using the correct laser can prevent this, so be sure that the person who is doing your treatment knows if you are at risk and how to prevent this.
- You have to let your hair grow for at least 2 weeks prior to laser treatment. Yup, that means stubbly legs for a while, sorry.
- Prices vary dramatically depending on your geographic location and on the areas you want treated. It can take 3 to 5 treatments depending on the color of your hair, the laser used, and the area treated — in some instances, it can take 10 treatments to get satisfactory results. Try to negotiate a price for a complete treatment rather than paying for each individual session; it could save you money in the long run.
- Because it takes multiple treatments, and you have to wait weeks between treatments, a complete course can take several months to finish. So if the wedding is in August, then you had better start now.
- Be sure that the person operating the laser can tell you the following: what type of laser or device is being used; why it’s the best type of laser for your skin and what your risks are; what adverse outcomes they have had; how many treatments they expect you’ll need. Using the wrong laser or the wrong settings can lead to discoloration of your skin, failure of the laser to work, pain and redness, and even scarring.
- The laser actually explodes your hair follicles when it hits them, so treatments do hurt a little. It is often described as feeling like an elastic band being snapped against your skin. Ah, what we will endure for the sake of vanity.
Photo credit: FCC, Josh Work (Viking Zippy)
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Post by Jeffrey Benabio, MD Photo credit: Anyjazz65