Don’t Get Burned – What You Need to Know About Laser Hair Removal
Bumps, nicks and cuts are all things of the past if you are one of the millions of people who opt for laser hair removal instead of more “old school” methods such as shaving or waxing to attain smooth, silky skin. Currently, laser hair removal is one of the most popular non-surgical cosmetic procedures. However, as laser hair removal procedures grow in popularity, consumers must realize it is still a serious procedure with potentially harmful risks and side effects.
According to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS), laser hair removal is more than just “zapping” unwanted hairs. It is a medical procedure that reduces the amount of hair growth through a series of treatments, usually over a period of six to eight weeks and should be performed by a qualified physician.
In an effort to educate consumers about undergoing laser hair removal procedures without complications, the ASDS created the following dos and don’ts guidelines:
- Do consult a qualified physician: Regulations for laser use have not kept up with the demand and consumers should be cautious of non-physicians practicing these procedures in spas/salons. Only a physician who is board-certified in dermatology or another specialty with equivalent training and experience should perform this procedure or the physician can designate another trained technician to perform a procedure as long as he/she is under the direct (on-site) supervision of the physician.
- Do ask questions: What kind of lasers do they use? What kind of training or experience do they have? Can you speak with one of their clients? If the person performing the procedure can’t answer these simple questions, you should walk away.
- Do undergo a skin test: If there are any apprehensions as to how the laser may interact with the skin, ask for a skin test to ensure there will be no adverse side effects.
- Do ensure the physician has experience with different skin types: People of a darker complexion may experience unusual lightening of the skin if an incorrect laser is used at an inappropriate setting.
- Don’t tan before or after a procedure: Tanning prior to a treatment can interfere with the absorption of laser light and may cause unusual lightening of the skin. Artificial tanning lotions should also be avoided because the perceived darker pigmentation may also interfere with the absorption of the laser on the skin causing unusual burns and bumps.
- Don’t seek laser treatments for blonde or white hairs: Since the laser responds to darker pigmented hair follicles, laser treatments are not as effective in treating lighter hairs. Patients with this type of hair should consider other methods of hair removal.
- Don’t undergo laser procedures if you take light-sensitive medication: Some medications may interfere with laser procedures, making the skin more susceptible to burning and scarring. To ensure that your medication won’t interfere with the procedure, consult a physician before undergoing any laser treatment.