If you’re exhausted from constantly having to shave or wax that unwanted hair, then you might want to consider laser hair removal for a more permanent solution. This is a long-term hair removal method that can reduce your hair growth by up to 90% – so it’s well worth doing! Here’s a look at what you can expect from a laser hair removal appointment.
What is laser hair removal?
This is a medical procedure whereby a qualified technician uses a concentrated beam of light to absorb the melanin and damage the hair follicle. This then inhibits hair growth for long periods of time. You might require some maintenance treatments but your hair growth will be substantially decreased.
How to prepare for laser hair removal
When you schedule a consultation to determine the target areas for hair removal, and the approximate treatment numbers you will need, you will get information on how to prepare for the laser hair removal. However, in case you’ve forgotten or would prefer a more comprehensive instruction list, here’s what you should do.
1. Clean your skin
Before undergoing laser hair removal treatment at your chosen clinic, you must ensure that your skin is completely free of any lotions, products, dirt or other impurities as this will impact the effectiveness of the laser. When clean and clear, the laser will be able to target the hair follicle directly.
2. Avoid UV exposure
You will need to avoid going into the sun or using any UV tanning beds for at least two weeks prior to the treatment. If you do spend a lot of time in the sun, then make sure you’re using a broad-spectrum sunblock, even on days that aren’t sunny. The reason is that tanning minimises the skin colour contrast with the hair, so the laser will mistake the melanin in the skin for that of the hair. This also reduces the chance of burning your skin.
3. Shave the area
It may seem counter-intuitive, but you need to prepare for your appointment by shaving the treatment areas around 24 hours prior to the laser hair removal session. This allows the laser to better target the hair root. However, you must not wax, tweeze or epilate the area for two weeks prior as this will remove the root which needs to be targeted.
4. No topical products
Make sure you don’t use any topical products before your laser hair removal session, particularly those that can cause photosensitivity. Rather use gentle cleansers and moisturisers ahead of the session. Harmful products include:
- AHA/BHA exfoliating creams
- Products with retinol or retinal
- Products with benzoyl peroxide
- Products that dry out the skin
5. Check your medication
If you take medication, then you must consult with your doctor regarding their safety with the laser hair removal treatment. Certain medications can interfere with the laser hair removal procedure as they increase skin sensitivity. These include:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Topical products with retinol
- Acne products
- Hormone treatments
6. Avoid caffeine and alcohol
For 24 hours before your session, you must refrain from drinking alcohol in excess and avoid caffeine where you can. These can dehydrate the skin leading to increased sensitivity. While you might expect some discomfort during the treatment, you want to decrease this risk. Many clinics will also apply a topical numbing cream beforehand to reduce this discomfort.
How many laser hair removal treatments do I need?
The number of treatment sessions is largely dependent on the treatment areas, the type of hair growth, skin tone and other factors. However, on average most men and women need 6 to 8 laser hair removal treatments which will be spaced four to eight weeks apart for optimal results. Because hair growth is impacted by hormonal fluctuations, you might find certain areas need to be tended to again after your sessions. As a guideline, treatment sessions will happen as follows:
- Facial area every 4 to 6 weeks
- Body area every 6 to 8 weeks
- Legs every 8 to 10 weeks
What to expect after your laser hair removal session
It’s important that you follow the aftercare instructions to ensure the best results, but here’s what you can expect after your laser hair removal session.
- The first day or two
There will be some redness and swelling in the treated area, with a feeling like sunburn but this can be treated with aloe vera or an ice pack to reduce the skin irritation.
- The first week
During this time, you might notice some hair shedding. This isn’t hair growth – so don’t be alarmed! Ensure that you don’t wax, tweeze or epilate during this time.
- Three to four weeks
You will notice that the treated area is quite smooth, although eventually, fine hairs will grow. Don’t try to remove these as they will be targeted in the next session.
- Three months
Having undergone at least two treatments, you will notice around 50% of hair reduction in the treated areas.
- Eight months to a year
You should have completed your hair removal treatment sessions in this time, with the hair not completely gone. If some hair returns, you might need a quick touch-up session.
What to do after laser hair removal
Any improper post-treatment care can result in scarring, pigmentation changes and skin texture changes so it’s vital that you follow your technician’s instructions. These include:
- No hot baths, showers or saunas in the first few days after treatment.
- No sun exposure or tanning beds in the first two weeks after treatment.
- No topical products that cause photosensitivity three days after treatment.
- Consult with your doctor regarding any oral medications.
- No beauty treatments such as dermal filler injections or chemical peels two weeks after treatment.
You will see the results of your laser hair treatment almost immediately, with a reduction in hair loss over the next few weeks. Just ensure you are treated by professionals in the industry, such as those at Allure Laser and Skin Studio, Mackay’s most trusted medical cosmetic clinic.