What to do before laser hair removal
If you’re interested in laser hair removal, choose a doctor whose board certified in a specialty such as dermatology or cosmetic surgery and has experience with laser hair removal. If a physician’s assistant or licensed nurse will do the procedure, make sure a doctor supervises and is available on-site during the treatments. Be cautious about spas, salons or other facilities that allow nonmedical personnel to do laser hair removal.
Before laser hair removal, schedule a consultation with the doctor. The doctor may use this visit to:
- Review your medical history, including medication use
- Discuss risks, benefits and expectations, including what laser hair removal can and can’t do for you
- Take photos to be used for before-and-after assessments and long-term reviews
At the consultation, discuss a treatment plan and related costs. Laser hair removal is usually an out-of-pocket expense.
The doctor will also offer specific tips to prepare for laser hair removal. For example:
- Stay out of the sun.A tan increases the risk of side effects, such as skin lightening. If you have a tan — either from sun exposure or sunless tanning products — wait until the tan fades completely before undergoing laser hair removal. Some doctors recommend staying out of the sun for up to six weeks before laser hair removal.
- Avoid plucking, waxing and electrolysis.These hair removal methods can disturb the hair follicle and interfere with laser hair removal.
Shaving is OK, however, since it preserves the hair shaft and follicle. In fact, shaving is recommended so that the laser doesn’t target hair above the skin, potentially causing burns.
Laser Hair Removal Pre-Treatment Guidelines
It is recommended that you avoid sunbathing or sun beds for at least 4 weeks before the start of treatment. Sunscreen should also be worn daily. Sunscreens should be used on dark or tanned skin to help get the best results from the treatment. The lighter your skin is during treatment, the more likely you are to get better, longer term hair free results.
You may want to think about whether you would like to keep a photographic record of the results from your treatments. This could mean taking before and after photos of your skin for each treatment you have. Some practices might do to this for you so it’s worth asking in advance.
You should talk to your practitioner about the pain of treatment and you could come up with a pain prevention plan together in advance of treatment. This could include local and topical anaesthetics. However, most people do not find laser hair removal painful and only experience very slight discomfort.
One Week before Laser Hair Removal
Normally you can continue with your daily life and routine straight after having laser hair removal treatment. If you want to be on the safe side or are concerned about being self-conscious of any visible redness/swelling, you may want to take some time off work or re-schedule events.
The Day before Laser Hair Removal
You are allowed to shave or trim hair up until the day you start treatment. In fact, you will be told by your practitioner to remove the body hair on treatment areas by shaving the day before starting treatment. These processes remove hair while keeping the hair follicle intact, which will be beneficial in laser hair removal.
On the Day of Laser Hair Removal
On the day you begin your treatment, you should not wear any deodorants, perfumes or creams. There are specific preparatory procedures which will happen on the day your treatment begins. These include:
Any creams and products (like makeup, medical creams or body lotions) are removed to prepare the skin for treatment
You may be given a local anaesthetic on the area which will be treated.
If you are still worried about pain and discomfort during the procedure, you can take oral pain killers shortly before your appointment to help put your mind at ease.