What You Should Know About Your Laser Treatment for Hair Removal
- Avoid sun exposure and tanning beds at least 5 days prior to treatment. If the treatment site is exposed, wear a sunscreen with SPF of 15-30.
- Avoid waxing, tweezing, and electrolysis for at least 6 weeks prior to treatment. The use of depilatory creams is permissible for up to 2 weeks prior to treatment.
- Each pulse of the laser feels like a snapping sensation. Discomfort is minimal to moderate. Certain treatment sites are more sensitive than others. For these sites, a topical anesthetic cream may be applied one to two hours before your treatment. This should be applied at home before your treatment.
- Laser treatment to the lips, cheeks or chin can lead to development of a cold sore or fever blister (Herpes Simplex Virus). Due to this risk, your doctor may instruct you to take a course of anti-viral pills.
- If you have taken Accutane (a medication that treats cystic acne) within the past year, please notify your doctor before your treatment date.
Immediately after treatment, the area may feel like a mild sunburn. This usually subsides within several hours. The area may be slightly swollen, red and itchy. A thin crust or small blisters may occur at the treatment site. This may persist for a few days. If bruising occurs, it will fade over several weeks time. Areas most likely to swell are under the neck and under the eyes. Areas most likely to blister are those that bend such as the elbows and knees.
- Gently wash the treatment site twice daily with a mild soap and water.
- Apply an antibiotic such as Polysporin twice daily to any crusted areas.
- Avoid sun exposure and wear sunscreens daily for several weeks after your final treatment. This serves to prevent darkening of the treated area.
- Swelling and discomfort can be eased by applying a cool compress to the treated area for up to five minutes at a time.
- Sarna lotion may be applied to relieve itching. This is available over-the-counter.
For several days after your treatment, you may notice what appears to be re-growth of hair. Actually, this is hair being released from the follicle. It will come off easily if you rub it with a towel.
The laser works by destroying hair follicles in their active growing phase. Your hairs are in many different phases of growth at any given time. For this reason, you may need subsequent treatments to destroy hair follicles re-entering the active growth phase after your first treatment. At the first sign of hair growth (usually 6-8 weeks after your treatment), you should schedule a second treatment. This is when hairs are closest to the surface and most vulnerable to the laser light. Typically, complete hair removal can be achieved in a few sessions within a year’s time. Some patients receive long periods of hair removal after only one session.