What You Need to Know About Laser Hair Removal - to Avoid Things Getting Hairy
I’m spending the summer at camp with my kids and I’m using the experience as part of a humor writing series I’m working on. There’s a ton of material. For starters, I’m older than pretty much all of the counselors and staff, who all seem fresh-faced and aglow at each and every function. Likewise, I’m working hard to look even slightly aglow. ‘Aflicker’ may be a better term.
I’m also keenly aware of the time I’m spending on my personal upkeep which should be considerably less, seeing as how I’m at camp. I’m slathering on BB cream and sunscreen every couple of hours, and I feel like I’m shaving almost as frequently. Well, maybe a bit less, but definitely more than ever.
I’m finally realizing why hair removal parties are so hot right now. No, you didn’t misread – I said hair removal parties. These exist. I have friends at home who go to these things. No, I am not kidding. While lying atop the host’s bed, these women have everything lasered away. I’ve never really understood the need for laser hair removal until now, yet I’m still not sure I want to have it done on the bed or sofa of some person I’ve met twice before at a PTA meeting. That said, it’s my job to look into this stuff for you and being that it’s the thing to do (according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery), laser hair removal was among the top 5 most popular nonsurgical procedures in 2013, totaling nearly 1 million treatments, I thought I’d give you some pointers before you get zapped.
What you should know and do before treatment:
Laser hair removal treatments are not without risk. They can cause severe burns, blistering, cold sores, skin eruptions, darkening or lightening of the skin, and permanent scarring. However, in the hands of a skilled laser operator, who will use the right settings and technique, the risk of these side effects is minimal.
The biggest risk you take is on the person operating the laser. The licensing and training processes vary from state-to-state, therefore, a technician may have very little experience or training before they get their hands on your hairy parts.
Ask if the operator is under the direction of a board-certified aesthetic plastic surgeon or dermatologist, if the facility is owned by a medical doctor, or if there is a medical doctor that is available/present during your treatment.
See if it’s possible to test a patch of skin in the desired area, before doing the full procedure.
Discuss your skin tone and hair color with the person performing the procedure, (as this can play a role), as well as any other medical issues including sensitive skin and keloid scarring.
Ask what kind of licensing the operator has and how many times they’ve performed laser hair removal on the specific area you are considering having lasered.
Look for friends and doctors to give referrals rather than going with the lowest price, the most convenient location, or using a Groupon offer.
Many states do not consider laser hair removal a medical treatment, and have few laws to regulate it, which means “Nancy Nohair” or whomever your trusty technician is, could simply have purchased or rented a portable machine before zapping you and your friends, who wait patiently while eating hors d’oeuvres. At-home laser hair removal regulations/laws may vary from state-to-state, so verify what your state’s laws are prior to getting the procedure done in your own home or someone else’s. Further, be advised that it is most likely far safer to have this procedure performed in a licensed practitioner’s office - Ideally an aesthetic plastic surgeon's office or a dermatologist’s. Perhaps its ultimately best to throw a party for the sake of throwing a party – and leave the hair removal to licensed practitioners in the confines of a medical facility.
Good luck, and if you insist on having a laser hair removal soiree, make an appointment with a legitimate clinician who is under the direct supervision of a plastic surgeon or dermatologist and celebrate your smoother hairless skin with some wine and appetizers afterward!