Body hair modification has been practiced for centuries. The reasons are mostly aesthetic, but it is also done for religious mandates and to follow community customs.
Most methods used till recently offered only temporary removal of body hair. Hair removal using razors, trimmers, electric shavers, and threading have to be repeated every few weeks.
Laser hair therapy is growing in popularity for the permanent removal of body hair. If done in a well-run clinic by trained personnel, it is very safe.
Nevertheless, laser hair removal aftercare is an important part of getting the best results from the procedure. Proper care after the procedure will also keep you safe and comfortable.
What are the essential elements of laser hair removal aftercare? Let’s see.
Table of Contents:
- How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
- What is the Best Thing to Do After Laser Hair Removal?
- Cooling Your Skin
- Avoidance of Sun Exposure
- Ointments and Creams
- Cosmetic Products
- What About Shaving?
- Care of the Underarms
- Care of the Legs
- Care of the Face
- Further Sessions
- How Do I Take Care of My Skin After Laser Treatment?
- What to Watch for After Laser Hair Removal
- Is Laser Hair Removal Safe?
How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
Lasers work by directing heat energy at the target area. For hair removal, the primary target is the melanin pigment found in hair.
Melanin absorbs light and lasers in the range of 300 to 1200 nanometers. Lasers with wavelengths in this range are used for hair removal.
When this target is stimulated by a laser of the required wavelength, it begins to heat up. As more and more pulses of the laser are applied, the heat damages or kills the hair follicles.
There are various types of lasers, and your dermatologist will choose the right one for you. The choice is based on your skin type and color.
The heating of the level laser has to be carefully controlled to avoid burns to the surrounding tissue. During and after the laser application cooling of the skin is required to limit the injury to surrounding tissue.
What is the Best Thing to Do After Laser Hair Removal?
Follow the instructions given by your physician. Laser hair removal is a job requiring considerable training and experience, and your healthcare team are the experts you should trust.
Remember, your skin is in a delicate and vulnerable state after this procedure. Follow your doctor's instructions about laser hair removal aftercare diligently, for your safety.
Cooling Your Skin
Lasers work by applying heat energy to the hair follicles deep inside your skin. This targeted treatment aims to remove the hair follicle, giving you permanent hair removal. However, the heat does affect the skin around the hair follicle as well.
Cold compresses are an effective and soothing method of giving your skin some relief. Soak a washcloth in cool water and apply it to the treated area for several minutes. Ice packs can also be used if you don't find them comfortable.
Cooling the skin is an important part of laser hair removal aftercare. It reduces the damage to your skin and relieves the pain of the procedure.
As an extension, avoid applying heat to your skin in the form of hot showers, hot tubs, saunas, and heat packs.
Loose fitting clothes for the first two or three days will be best. Since your skin is sensitive after the laser application, tight clothes will feel unpleasant and might chafe your skin.
Since the sun can irritate your skin, wear clothes that cover the treated parts. Full sleeved tops if you've had hair removal on your arms and forearms, for example.
Avoidance of Sun Exposure
Sun exposure is harsh for your skin at any time but especially so after laser hair removal. This procedure makes your skin especially vulnerable to damage and you should avoid going out in the sun for a few weeks.
When you do go out, remember to apply sunscreen before stepping out. SPF 30 or higher is best.
Oh, and you should avoid tanning beds, too, for the same reasons.
Ointments and Creams
Your dermatologist will often prescribe ointments or creams for you to apply at home. Often these ointments are topical steroids which reduce the pain and burning associated with laser hair removal.
If the pain is significant, your doctor may also prescribe medication like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (Motrin) to relieve it. Follow the instructions of your dermatologist exactly about ointments and medicines.
You are sure to be using several cosmetic and skin care products routinely. After a laser hair removal, you must be cautious about these. Several of them have the potential to harm your skin at this vulnerable time.
Avoid Tanning Lotions
Since you can't go out in the sun, you may feel tempted to use a tanning lotion. While those fake tans can look pretty attractive, you shouldn't go for them at this time.
Tanning lotions seem to be harmless but can irritate your skin after laser hair removal. Your skin may react with bumps or rashes.
Fragrances contain all kinds of volatile chemicals and can irritate your skin after laser therapy. Applying them to your skin after laser hair removal may cause irritation, redness, and burning.
If you do want to wear a fragrance, make sure you apply it to your clothes rather than your skin.
No Body Scrubs
Body scrubs contain several ingredients and fragrances. While harmless to intact and healthy skin, they irritate skin that has just had laser therapy.
Avoid body scrubs for at least the first few days after laser hair removal, and then you can go back to normally using it.
Can You Use Moisturizer After Laser Hair Removal?
Moisturizers available commercially often have several fragrances, colors, and preservatives. It is best to avoid them at least for a few days after laser hair therapy.
If you do feel the need to moisturize your skin, a bland product like plain petroleum jelly may be best.
What About Shaving?
As part of your laser hair removal aftercare, you should avoid shaving for a few days. Your skin will be sensitive, and shaving may cause significant pain, redness, or infections.
If you do need to remove hair later, shaving is safest. Avoid threading and plucking.
Heed your next session, if one is planned. Shaving just before a session can reduce the success of laser hair removal. The laser needs to find hair on the skin surface to reach the hair follicles.
Care of the Underarms
The underarms are relatively safe after laser hair therapy because they are rarely exposed to the sun.
As long as you wear garments with sleeves, you can venture out a few days after your laser hair removal.
Remember not to apply deodorant to your underarms if you are in the habit of doing so. These products contain several chemicals and may cause skin irritation.
The good news is that underarm (and pubic) hair respond best to laser treatment. You will need fewer sessions for complete hair removal.
Care of the Legs
Skin on your legs needs the same aftercare after laser hair removal. Use cool packs, apply the medication prescribed by your dermatologist, and avoid the products that might irritate the skin.
When going out in the daytime, remember to wear ankle length clothes to avoid exposing your laser treated skin to the sun.
Care of the Face
The face is exposed to the sun when you go out. If you've had treatment on your upper lip or other parts of the face, avoid going out during the day for a few weeks.
Ask your physician about the cosmetics you use. As a general rule, avoid all products for the first few days.
Yes, you will need multiple sessions. Planning and deciding on the timing of your next session is also part of laser hair removal aftercare.
The hair follicle is sensitive to the effect of laser only during its anagen (growth) phase. At any time, only a proportion of your hair follicles are in the anagen phase.
These hair follicles are sensitive to the effect of the laser. The other hair follicles, which are in the resting or transition phase, partially or completely escape the effect of the laser.
You will probably need four to six sessions to achieve your desired results. Remember to space the sessions four to six weeks apart to allow your skin time to heal from the previous therapy.
How Do I Take Care of My Skin After Laser Treatment?
Taking care of your skin needs common-sense measures, as we have seen above.
Here are some dos and don'ts:
- Do follow your doctor's advice — apply the ointments and take the medicine they have prescribed.
- Do avoid going out in the sun for a few weeks.
- Don't use fragrances, scrubs, and other products for the first few days.
- Do learn about the complications of laser hair removal. Watch out for the signs and contact your health-care provider immediately.
What to Watch for After Laser Hair Removal
The most frequent harms of laser hair removal are redness (erythema), burns, and scarring because of excessive heating.
You should watch for graying of the skin, crusts, blisters, and pain that is significantly more than with your earlier treatments. These usually last from one to three days.
Burns happen from overheating of the tissues. This can be because of excessive heat generated by the laser or by a failure of the cooling system built into the laser machine head.
Scarring can happen if higher amounts of laser therapy were used, appropriate cooling of the skin was not done, or the wrong type of laser was used.
Your dermatologist chooses the appropriate laser (ruby, alexandrite, ND YAG, or others) depending on your particular skin type. This is one of the reasons why you should always go to a qualified professional for laser hair removal.
Scarring can also result from infections that happen after laser hair removal. It is important to watch for signs of infections and get treatment from your physician at the earliest signs.
Dyspigmentation is the appearance of light or dark patches on your skin. These can appear some days after your treatment. They are most common if you have dark skin or deeply tanned skin.
Hyperpigmentation (dark spots) can be caused by the release of melanin from destroyed melanocytes or the increased production of melanin as a reaction to the laser therapy.
Hypopigmentation (light patches) are rare. They're probably caused by damage to the melanin producing cells (melanocytes) in the skin.
Infections do happen after laser treatment. If you notice boils, bumps, or scratches that don't seem to heal, it may be an infection.
If you have had herpes simplex in the past, it can be reactivated by laser therapy.
Any of these complications after your laser hair removal treatment should prompt you to talk to your physician as soon as possible.
Is Laser Hair Removal Safe?
Yes, most people undergoing this procedure have no side effects or only minor side effects which last one to three days.
Other methods of hair removal like shaving, sugaring, waxing, and threading also have some dangers. Some of these are infections, genital burns from waxing, ingrown hairs, boils, and dermatitis.
Compared to these methods laser hair removal is fairly safe since it is done in a medical setting. Hygiene and sterilization are optimal, and advice about preparation before the procedure and care after are usually given to you in detail.
Body hair removal is a common grooming practice. Most methods that are used are do-it-yourself, practiced at home. These include razors, electric shavers, threading, and waxing. These methods need to be repeated every few days or weeks.
Laser hair removal is a permanent or semi-permanent method, leaving your skin smooth and hair free for months or even years.
However, this is a medical procedure to be carried out by a dermatologist with expertise in the procedure.
Your dermatologist is the best person to guide you about the aftercare of laser hair removal. Follow their instructions carefully and watch out for any danger signs. Careful laser hair removal aftercare will give you the best outcome.
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