As Americans everywhere are shaping up for the spring, hitting the gym and donning lighter clothes, they want to feel confident at the beach or pool without the unnecessary stress of worrying about embarrassing shaving bumps, razor burns, or worse – stray hairs which become very visible in bright sunlight.
Traditional hair removal techniques such as shaving, waxing and tweezing only provide temporary relief and may actually stimulate hair growth and cause skin infection. Electrolysis, while effective, often requires years of ongoing treatments and is particularly painful. Laser hair removal offers four main advantages: 1) comfort, 2) speed, 3) accuracy and 4) long-term effectiveness.
Laser hair removal is soaring in popularity – last year in the US there were almost 2 million procedures performed. Today it ranks as the fastest growing non-surgical cosmetic enhancement procedure and is second only to Botox in numbers of treatments. The most common procedure seen for women in the US is facial hair while men are seeking a remedy to their hairy backs.
So with salons and spas racing to add laser hair removal to their menu of services, how can you be sure you’re selecting a clinic that not only offers effective removal of the hair but also employs the highest safety measures? Below are tips to finding the right laser hair removal place for you.
First, ask questions:
Who supervises the laser operators and how are they trained? Can you take a tour of the facility and meet the staff? Is the website informative? How many procedures have they performed? Will they perform a test spot on your skin for the area you would like to have treated? Will they provide you with a list of their customers who you can speak to first hand to ask questions about their experience at that facility?
Next, find out who performs the laser hair removal:
State regulations vary across the US. It’s as important to know when to use the laser, as it is when NOT to use it. A handful of states limits the practice to physicians. Consequently, not much laser hair removal is done in those states. While some laser procedures should be done only by a physician, laser hair removal is not one of them. It is a simple procedure of exceedingly low risk. Even when the procedure is performed in a doctor’s office, you will rarely find a doctor actually doing the procedure. On the other hand, some states have virtually no minimal requirement for practitioners of laser hair removal.
Medical professionals such as nurses, advanced nurse practitioners, and certified physician assistants, under physician supervision and using physician-written protocols, best do the procedure. Practitioners should be trained by the laser manufacturer.
Know the risks:
Generally, the highest risk associated with laser hair removal is mild sunburn. However, the laser center should provide you with an ‘Informed Consent’ form, detailing everything you need to know about your procedure, and they should take the time to answer all your questions.
The senior reviewer for the FDA’s office of device evaluation, Richard Felton, indicated that in the last decade, the agency had a record of only 60 consumer complaints most of those were complaints that the procedure didn’t work.
Are you even a candidate?
Most people who complain laser hair removal doesn’t work weren’t appropriate candidates, to begin with. Choose a clinic that offers a free consultation to determine if the procedure is right for your hair and skin type. Laser hair removal is most effective on light skin with dark hair but, with the appropriate laser, can also be done on dark skin as well. Since the laser beam is attracted to melanin, the pigment in brown and black hair, it’s not usually effective on blond, gray or red hair.