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How to Prepare for Laser Hair Removal

Because it's one of the most popular non-surgical cosmetic procedures available, laser hair removal may not seem like something you actually need to prepare for. You don't really do a lot of complicated prep before you shave, right?

Well, removing hair with a laser is an entirely different situation, and preparing for your appointment can help you avoid the pain some people experience, protect your skin, and help the procedure go more smoothly—pun fully intended!

Preparing for
Laser Hair Removal

How to Prepare for Laser Hair Removal

Getting ready to have laser hair removal is actually more about what not to do. Before your appointment:

  • DO NOT wax, tweeze or sugar the area to be treated. Laser hair removal uses the hair shaft as a conduit to transfer laser energy down into the unwanted hair follicle and destroy it. If unwanted hair is pulled out before the procedure, the laser energy has no way to travel into the into the follicle, and therefore cannot destroy it.
  • DO NOT use cream depilatories on the area to be treated. The chemicals in these products may irritate the skin, and make it hypersensitive to the laser. This will make the laser hair removal procedure more painful for you.
  • DO NOT tan before your laser hair removal appointment.
    The Nd:YAG laser systems used for laser hair removal can be used on all skin types, including darker skin tones. However, ultraviolet light—whether from the sun or a tanning bed—can make the skin hypersensitive to the laser, thereby causing more pain during the hair removal procedure, and possibly even damaging your skin. We highly recommend you avoid tanning at least two weeks before your laser hair removal appointment.
  • DO NOT tan after your laser hair removal appointment. Just as tanning will make your skin hypersensitive to the laser light, the opposite is true. The laser will make your skin sensitive to ultraviolet light exposure, which means you may burn rather than tan. In addition, your skin may tan unnaturally, leaving permanent areas of hyperpigmentation on the areas that were treated by the laser. We highly recommend you avoid tanning at least two weeks after your laser hair removal appointment.
  • DO NOT use skin care products on the area to be treated. This includes moisturizers, oils, makeup, perfumes, deodorant, antiperspirant, or powder, depending on the area being treated. If you use any kind of topical medication on your skin, be sure to notify your patient consultation when scheduling your laser hair removal appointment.

A few things you can and/or should do:

  • DO inform your patient consultant of any medications you’re taking when you make the appointment. Some medications can interfere with laser hair removal, while others can make your skin more sensitive to the laser light. Remember to include topical medications, not just pills.
  • DO ask your aesthetician about your medications when you come in for your appointment. It never hurts to double check to ensure your procedure goes as well as possible.
  • YOU CAN shave before your appointment. We recommend shaving a day before your treatment, so that the laser doesn’t target hair above the skin, potentially causing burns. With a clean shave before your treatment, the lasers will be able to easily locate your hair follicles without wasting energy on hairs that have already grown out. You also won’t have to worry about the lasers burning off your hairs either. You can leave a patch not shaved, and then the aesthetician can see the result and improvement of your previous session.
  • YOU CAN take an over-the-counter pain reliever before your appointment. Some people find that this helps to reduce the already minimal pain that may be felt during the procedure.

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