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 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:
April 10, 2015
- 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.
- Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Lasers and flashlamps in dermatology. In: Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed March 10, 2015.
- Shenenberger DW. Removal of unwanted hair. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 10, 2015.
- Gan SD, et al. Laser hair removal: A review. Dermatologic Surgery. 2013;39:823.
- Haedersdal M, et al. Laser and intense pulsed light hair removal technologies: From professional to home use. British Journal of Dermatology. 2011;165:31.
- Laser hair removal. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/cosmetic-treatments/laser-hair-removal. Accessed March 10, 2015.
- Laser hair removal information. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. https://www.asds.net/LaserHairRemovalInformation.aspx. Accessed March 14, 2015.
- Hession MT, et al. A review of hand-held, home-use cosmetic laser and light devices. Dermatologic Surgery. 2015;41:307.
- Golden, AK. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 7, 2015.