With summer right around the corner, skirts and shorts season is nearly here (not to mention bikini season!). Are you dreading getting back into your routine of waxing/shaving/using Nair? If so, then you may want to seriously consider laser hair removal to get rid of unwanted hair more permanently. While laser hair removal can be an effective hair removal option, it’s not something to rush into. Here’s what you need to know before scheduling a consultation or your first treatment.
Laser Hair Removal Has Evolved
In the early days of laser treatments for unwanted hair, only people with light skin and dark hair could take advantage of the benefits. The lasers targeted pigment, so there was the risk of darker skin getting zapped or lightened by the laser energy. For people with very light hair, such as blonde or red, there was a chance that the laser wouldn’t even detect the faint pigment in the hair follicle, making the treatment ineffective.
The good news? Laser hair removal has come a long way. Today, there are lasers that work on a variety of skin and hair colors. Don’t rule out the treatment if you don’t have dark hair and fair skin.
You Should Shave First
It might seem counterintuitive, but it’s usually recommended that you shave the area in question a day or so before your treatment. The laser targets the hair follicle, not the hair itself. Because of this, there doesn’t need to be hair growth above the skin for it to work. In fact, having growth can actually “distract” the laser from the follicle.
While shaving before treatment is encouraged, skip other forms of hair removal that pull hair out by the root. No waxing or tweezing before laser hair removal! You’ll just end up removing the root of the hair you want to treat.
Some Medications Can Increase Photosensitivity
Don’t forget to mention any and all medications you take during your laser hair removal consultation. Some medicines increase your photosensitivity and need to be paused before treatment. Or, you might need to wait until you’ve finished taking the medication before you schedule laser hair removal. Medications that increase photosenstivity include Accutane and some antibiotics.
Some skincare products, such as those that contain retinol, can also make your skin more sensitive to the laser’s light. Let your provider know what products you use on your skin. You’ll get recommendations on whether you need to take a break from them before your laser treatment.
You Should Limit Sun Exposure Before (and After) Treatment
Don’t get a tan before (or after) your laser treatment. Having a tan before treatment can make the laser more likely to tamper with the increased pigmentation in your skin, putting you at risk for discoloration. After the treatment, your skin will be more sensitive to the sun’s rays. When you do go outside, make sure to slather on the SPF first.
You’re Going to Need Multiple Treatments
Hair grows in stages and not every follicle is active all the time. If every single hair follicle on your body was in a growing stage at the same time, you’d be covered in fur.
Since each hair follicle isn’t constantly active, a single laser hair removal treatment won’t sufficiently treat every hair in an area. For that reason patients will need multiple treatments. Typically, the average person needs somewhere between six and eight sessions for optimal results.
Although it might seem as if your hair is completely gone after the second, third or fourth session, it’s a good idea to keep all of your scheduled appointments. People often cancel additional treatments once they start to see the hair disappear, only to realize later that the additional sessions would have improved their results.
Timing Is Everything
Since you do need multiple treatments and because you’re supposed to space treatments a few weeks apart, getting the timing right is important. If you’ve got a beach trip in a month, it’s probably not a good idea to start a course of laser hair removal treatments right now. For one thing, you won’t have the full results by the time of the trip. Second, you’re supposed to avoid sun exposure during treatment, which would really put a damper on your beach vacation.
Laser Hair Removal Won’t Completely Eliminate Hair
One last thing to know about laser hair removal: It doesn’t necessarily remove 100 percent of hair from the area. The majority of your hair will be gone, but it’s very unlikely that every single follicle will get zapped.
If you do notice a few stray hairs popping up after your last treatment session, you can always schedule a follow-up appointment to take care of them.
If laser hair removal seems like the right choice for you, Dr. Paul Vitenas and the staff at Mirror Mirror Beauty Boutique in Houston, Texas are happy to discuss treatment with you in more detail. To schedule your consultation, call 281-810-9083 today.