If you're tired of shaving, waxing, and hiding unwanted hair, you may be considering laser hair removal and wondering what to expect. Learning as much as possible about the procedure, recovery, restrictions and the results will help you make a well-informed decision and schedule the procedure at a time that is most convenient for you.
When Treatment is Not an Option
People with blond or white hair are typically not eligible for laser hair removal. The treatment depends on a significant contrast between skin color and hair color so those with light hair will not achieve results. Ask your doctor or technician if laser hair removal is a good option for you.
Before the Treatment
You should take special care not to expose the treatment area to sun for several weeks before your laser hair removal appointment. Tanning before laser removal can result in pigmentation of the area. For this reason, you may be asked to reschedule your appointment if the treatment area shows recent sun exposure. You should also avoid waxing or tweezing for six full weeks before your appointment as the laser may not be able to locate the follicle. Finally, shave the treatment area with a new razor the day before your appointment. Using a new razor may help prevent dermatitis following your treatment.
During the Treatment
You will be awake during your laser hair removal. The doctor or technician performing the removal may provide you with protective glasses to wear. During the laser hair removal appointment, you may experience a "snapping" feeling or some mild itching, but most patients describe the pain as minor discomfort. The technician will monitor your skin to ensure the most appropriate settings were used before moving forward.
Recovering from Laser Hair Removal
You can expect to return to work immediately following your laser hair removal without restriction. If you had laser hair removal to any area of the face, you can wear makeup the day following your appointment.
In the 48 hours following your treatment, the skin in the area treated will look as it if is sunburned and may be accompanied by some discomfort, minor burning, and itching. Using moisturizers and cool compresses may relieve the discomfort. It's very important to avoid sun exposure to the treated for the next few weeks. If the area must be exposed, use sunscreen generously. One week after your appointment, you may resume shaving the treated area if you choose to do so.
Some people experience ingrown hairs after laser hair removal. To avoid ingrown hairs, exfoliate the treatment area right before and a couple days after treatment using a loofah. Keep the area clean and moisturize with an aloe-vera based lotion.
Single hairs may fall out immediately following your treatment and over the course of the next three weeks.
The Risks of Your Treatment
Most people recover from laser hair removal sessions as expected without untoward side effects. While not common, it is possible that your skin will blister following your appointment. Keep in mind that darker skin tones are more prone to blistering than fair skin tones. Another uncommon side effect is pigmentation, which typically occurs when the procedure is performed on tan or sunburned skin or skin is exposed to sun too soon after treatment. Dermatitis, or inflammation of the skin resulting from irritation, may occur in rare cases. If you have questions or concerns about your recovery, you should contact the doctor or technician who performed the treatment.
Expect Great Results
It's important to understand that laser hair removal is not a quick fix. The process requires a series of 6 treatments or more to see quality results. The end result of laser hair removal is highly predictable: most patients experience sustained hair loss after three to seven treatments. Treatments are typically scheduled in three to five week increments until the hair does not grow back.
Many patients feel that the benefits far outweigh the minor discomfort and expense of the treatment. Carefully selecting a laser hair removal doctor or technician, learning about the treatment before your appointment, following the instructions given you, and expecting realistic results will ensure you to have a positive experience.