Unwanted body hair can be frustrating, but you’ve already made the smart decision to do something about it. If you have an appointment scheduled for a laser hair removal treatment, there are many steps you can take to make sure you’re prepared.
In order to perform laser hair removal, your dermatologist needs to know where hair grows. In order for your hair removal procedure to be effective, you should not shave, pluck, wax, or remove hair in the treatment area for one month leading up to the procedure. Since the laser technology used in laser hair removal targets the hair follicle, they need to be visible. Allowing your hair to grow naturally will produce the best results. Once you arrive at your dermatologist’s office, they may shave the area down to a shorter length that works best with the laser technology.
Laser hair removal’s targeting uses contrast to effectively eliminate hair follicles. That’s why the procedure works best for people with fair skin and dark hair. If there isn’t much contrast between the color of your skin and the color of your hair, the results won’t be nearly as effective. So, if you want your laser hair removal procedure to work, you need to avoid sun exposure as much as possible. Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and wear clothing that’s made with UV-blocking fabric. It’s best to keep sun exposure to a minimum and take all precautions for about six weeks leading up to treatment.
In some cases, your dermatologist may prescribe skin bleaching cream that can be applied to the treatment area. These are usually recommended for people who have recently gotten a tan and have a treatment coming soon, or people with darker complexions. The effects of the skin bleaching cream are not permanent, but will make your skin lighter in the short-term. Higher contrast between skin color and hair color is key, so it’s best to do whatever you can to help the process work.
Even if you are a responsible person who takes great pains to keep your skin healthy and clear, there are certain extra steps to consider when preparing for laser hair removal. Do not use skincare products that contain retinol for about one week leading up to your treatment. Retinols can dry your skin and make it more susceptible to burns or irritation from the treatment. Most retinol creams are prescribed or used on the face, so if you’re getting laser hair removal in your facial area, pay attention to the skincare products you use.
Likewise, don’t use any products that can dry your skin, especially anything containing hydroxy acids. Hydroxy acids include salicylic acid benzoyl peroxide and are often found in acne medications and creams.
There are a great deal of people and places that offer laser hair removal as the technology becomes more widespread. Health spas, tanning salons, or other beauty salons may offer laser hair removal, but they are not staffed by professional dermatologists. Doctors who have your health in mind are the only people you should trust to perform medical procedures like laser hair removal. In untrained hands, laser hair removal can cause burns or change the pigment of your skin. Additionally, only a doctor will know your medical history and know what to ask when looking for contraindications (i.e. pre-existing conditions or points in your medical history that make you ineligible for laser hair removal). Some common things that prevent laser hair removal include pregnancy, accutane use within the past year, or certain connective tissue disorders.
Laser hair removal works effectively to permanently reduce hair growth after a few sessions. If you prepare for your treatment and follow these steps, you and your New England dermatologist will both have an easy time curbing unwanted hair growth.