If you're interested in laser hair removal, choose a doctor who's 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 will 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, be sure to discuss a treatment plan and related costs. Laser hair removal is typically an out-of-pocket expense.
The doctor will also offer specific tips to prepare for laser hair removal. For example:
May. 10, 2012
- 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 might even be recommended. Some studies suggest that shaving before laser hair removal improves results.
- Shenenberger DW. Removal of unwanted hair. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Feb. 3, 2012.
- Haedersdal M, et al. Laser and intense pulsed light hair removal technologies: From professional to home use. British Journal of Dermatology. 2011;165:31.
- Do's and don'ts for laser hair removal. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. http://www.asds.net/DosAndDontsLaserHairRemoval.aspx. Accessed Feb. 6, 2012.
- Laser hair removal information. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. http://www.asds.net/LaserHairRemovalInformation.aspx. Accessed Feb. 6, 2012.
- Casey AS, et al. Guidelines for laser hair removal. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy. 2008;10:24.
- Wanitphakdeedecha R, et al. Physical means of treating unwanted hair. Dermatologic Therapy. 2008;21:392.
- Haedersdal M, et al. Hair removal. Current Problems in Dermatology. 2011;42:111.
- Gibson LE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Feb. 16, 2012.