Precautions of Laser Hair Removal
What to expect from laser hair removal
Laser hair removal uses mild radiation via high-heat lasers. The purpose is to damage hair follicles enough to significantly slow down hair growth. Although the effects last longer than home hair removal methods, such as shaving, laser therapy doesn’t create permanent results. You’ll have to receive multiple treatments for long-term hair removal.
Laser hair removal may be done just about anywhere on the face and body, except your eye area. This makes the procedure versatile in its uses.
There is also little-to-no recovery time involved. You can resume your normal activities after each procedure.
Although new hairs may still grow, you’ll notice that they grow in finer and lighter in color than before. This means that when there is regrowth it won’t look as heavy as before.
This procedure tends to work best if you have both fair skin and dark hair.
Side effects and risks
Side effects of laser hair removal may include:
pigmentation changes (usually light patches on darker skin)
Minor side effects like irritation and redness tend to go away within a few hours of the procedure. Any symptoms that last longer than that ought to be addressed with your doctor.
Scars and changes to skin texture are rare side effects.
You can minimize the risk of side effects and permanent skin damage by making sure you seek treatment from a board-certified dermatologist only. Salons and at-home laser removal aren’t recommended.
Aftercare and follow-up
Before the procedure, your dermatologist may apply an analgesic ointment to minimize pain. If you still experience pain, talk to your doctor about taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. You doctor may also prescribe a steroid cream for severe pain.
Common symptoms, such as redness and swelling, may be relieved by applying ice or a cold compress to the affected area.
Laser hair removal disables hair growth — rather than removing hairs — so you’ll need follow-up treatments. Regular maintenance treatments will also extend the results.
You’ll also want to minimize your sun exposure after each laser hair removal, especially during peak daylight hours. Increased sun sensitivity from the procedure puts you at risk of sunburn. Make sure you wear sunscreen every day. The Mayo Clinic also recommends staying out of direct sunlight for six weeks before laser hair removal to prevent pigmentation disruptions on tanned skin.
Follow-up appointments are essential to this type of treatment. According to the Mayo Clinic, most people need a follow-up treatment every six weeks, up to six times. This helps to stop hair growth after the initial laser hair removal session. After this point, you’ll also need to see your dermatologist for a maintenance appointment. You could do this once or twice a year depending on your needs. And you can shave in between appointments.
Laser hair removal is considered an optional cosmetic procedure, so it isn’t covered by insurance. The overall cost varies based on how many sessions you need. You can also talk to your dermatologist about a payment plan.
Although at-home laser hair treatment might be appealing in terms of cost, it’s not proven to be safe or effective.