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Skin Preparation and Safety for Laser Hair Removal

laser hair removal tips

Laser Hair Removal: Treatment

Author: Christian N Kirman, MD, Staff Physician, Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center

Coauthor(s): Joseph A Molnar, MD, PhD, FACS, Associate Professor of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Associate Director, Burn Unit, Wake Forest University School of Medicine; Samer Alaiti, MD, FACP, Clinical Assistant Professor, Departments of Dermatology and Internal Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine; Medical Director, Miracle Mile Medical Center for Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, Inc

Updated: Nov 6, 2008

Patients should be instructed to avoid sunlight and active tanning prior to treatment. Bleaching the skin with retinoic acid or hydroquinone can lighten the skin prior to laser treatment.

Patients may shave or use depilatory creams up to the day prior to treatment, leaving hairs within the follicle and below the skin surface.

Topical anesthetic creams or cryogenic sprays may be applied to the treatment area to reduce discomfort during the procedure. Cold compresses are also effective in reducing discomfort, erythema, and edema at the treatment area.

The skin surface must be thoroughly cleansed of all makeup, anesthetic creams, and other applicants immediately prior to laser treatment. This may be done with water, followed by alcohol swabs, and should be allowed to dry completely.

Laser systems are dangerous hazards to the eye. The highest concentration of melanin in the body is contained in the retina, which is highly susceptible to damage by laser light. Every person in the room during laser treatment should wear protective eye-wear that is certified for the wavelength of the laser in use. Because the patient usually lies supine, he or she may require full occlusive eye protection to prevent laser light from entering underneath a sunglasses or goggle type of protective eye-wear.