Before the session
Precautions to take before starting a laser hair removal session:
- The first consultation: Essential step during which the laser therapist will first determine whether the future patient is a candidate for laser hair removal. It is the color of the hair that will determine this, and then the therapist will choose the machine according to the patient’s phototype. They must also make sure that the skin is not tanned: laser hair removal would burn the skin if it were tanned because it would have a high melanin concentration. Finally, they will identify the areas for hair removal and prepare a price estimate.
- Shaving the area for hair removal: The night before the first session, the patient must shave the area to be treated, unless it is an area on the face (excluding beards for men). If the area is not shaved, the lasered hair would burn the surface of the skin.
- Do not pluck the hair: Most importantly, the patient must not remove the hair with wax or tweezers before the session. In fact, to eliminate the hair, the laser must burn the hair root. When hair is plucked, the root is also removed. If hair was removed from the area with wax, it is necessary to wait until all of the hairs have grown back before starting the treatment.
- Do not tan: Tanning (sun or UV) is one of the most important contraindications for laser hair removal as the skin can burn and become depigmented on contact with the laser beam.
- Do not apply deodorant: this precaution concerns the underarm area from where hair will be removed. Deodorant could actually irritate the skin on contact with the laser.
- Avoid any photosensitizing medical treatment: e.g. cortisone, roaccutane, etc. These types of drugs can cause severe skin reactions if a laser is used.
During the session
- Protective glasses must be worn by the patient and laser therapist, to avoid the laser coming into contact with the eyes (risk of burning).
- The area is sanitized using disinfectant wipes
- Laser settings according to the skin and hair (fluence, pulse duration, spot diameter)
- Application of an anesthetic cream on the most sensitive areas (e.g. bikini). It is important to remember that pain means the treatment is working.
During hair removal, the laser therapist will go over the area with a hand piece, which will deliver the laser pulses onto the skin. He/she will hold the skin tight in areas with contours (e.g. bikini) to optimize the treatment, and go around areas with tattoos and beauty spots to prevent any skin complications. A jet of cold air will be released at the same time the laser is activated. This helps to improve the patient’s comfort and the results.
The session duration varies depending on the area treated: it takes from 5 minutes for the upper lip to 45 minutes/1 hour for full legs.
After the session
Once the session has finished, the patient can resume their normal activities. They will feel a warm or tingling sensation and should apply a soothing cream regularly. The cream will help to relieve the irritation and “sunburn-effect” redness, which will not last for more than approximately 12 hours.
Once all the hair has been destroyed, the patient’s skin will be clear and smooth. The hair will start to grow again between 3 or 4 weeks after the session, and will already seem thinner and fairer. This is when the next session should be scheduled. The more sessions, the longer it takes for regrowth, and the thinner and sparser the hairs will be. A longer period of time will then be left between sessions. Nearly 95% of hair will be completely eliminated.
Here are some tips to consider for after a session:
- Avoid any sun exposure for at least 3 weeks
- Apply a moisturizing and soothing cream to relieve redness and warm sensations on the skin. This type of reaction is completely normal and will subside after a few hours.
- Apply a sun protection cream to prevent tanning for at least 3 weeks
- Avoid any aggressive treatments on the treated area for at least 2 weeks
- Avoid swimming for at least 2 days to prevent the chlorine from irritating the area
- Avoid exercise for at least 3 to 4 days to prevent irritating the area when sweating.