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Laser Hair Removal Is Not For Everyone


For the right patients, laser hair removal can provide a 70 to 90 percent reduction in unwanted hair. This accounts for the fact that laser hair removal is one of the top five non-surgical cosmetic procedures in the United States for both men and women. In fact, millions of these procedures are performed annually. Dermatologists and medical spas require proper training to offer the procedure safely.

All cosmetic procedures carry risks. If you provide these procedures, you can use a laser hair removal DVD to train yourself and your staff on the best and safest approach to educating clients about reasonable expectations and potential drawbacks to this procedure.

Possible Side Effects of Laser Hair Removal

Most side effects of laser hair removal are rare or temporary. The most likely side effects are:

*Transient erythema, perifollicular edema, and discomfort

*Folliculitis, or infection

*Acne breakout

*Hyperpigmentation, or darkening of the skin. When this occurs, it is usually temporary.

*Hypopigmentation, or lightening of the skin. Patients with darker skin should be cautious.

*Blistering or scarring. This is generally rare with proper knowledge of laser parameters. The risk is also reduced by having the patient avoid sun exposure.

*Changes in skin texture. Again, this is rare.

*Crusting or scabbing. This is typically temporary.

*Hair changes. Be sure that patients understand that new hair growth may be finer and lighter in color.

*Purpura

*Leukotrichia

*Itching

*Unforeseen future effects

Laser Hair Removal Is Not For Everyone

During the initial consultation, go over the patient’s medical history and list of current medications. You should be cautious of treating patients with the following contraindications:

Patients on Accutane or currently taking megadoses of vitamin A. Patients on these medications may have difficulty with wound healing.

*Other contraindicated medications. Anti-depressants, anti-histamines, and diuretics, for example, may cause hyper-pigmentation, dermatitis or may make a patient more sensitive to light.

*Potential endocrine problems. In women who have a receding hairline, problems with their periods, or who have increased muscle tone, there may be an endocrine problem. If you are suspicious of a potential problem, order an endocrine work-up prior to treatment. You should also consider conditions such as adrenal neoplasms, ovarian neoplasms, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.

*Pregnancy. While no studies indicate problems with treating pregnant women, it is wise to avoid.

*Potential for Stimulated Hair Growth. High risk patients are mostly women who come from or are descended from someone from the Mediterranean area, Middle East, or Indian subcontinent. If their hairlines are ill-defined, they are at risk.

*Difficult Hair Combinations. You will not be able to work with fine, light hair on dark skin, or blonde or red hair on tanned skin. The hair needs to be darker than the skin.

Client Responsibilities

Your client also can help increase the effectiveness of the treatments and help minimize side effects. The client should:

*Avoid sun exposure. Tanning booths are a form of UV exposure. Tans and particularly sunburns increase the risk of blistering and permanent discoloration. If they have a tan or sunburn, they need to wait until it fades completely. If they are going to be in the sun, you should recommend they use sunscreen of at least 30 SPF.

*Refrain from waxing, tweezing, or bleaching the hair.

*If instructed, shave the area to be treated the day prior to appointment.

*Refrain from applying any lotion, sunscreen, makeup, deodorant, or other topical solutions on areas to be treated of the day of the appointment. Topical solutions can potentially reduce the laser energy and, in some rare cases, cause toxic allergic reactions.

An additional precautionary step to ensure successful procedures for a new client is the patch test. A patch test, performed in a hidden area of skin which is similar to the area to be treated, is a good precaution. During regular treatments you would use a cooling agent, but a true patch test will use no cooling agents.

Need a laser hair removal training DVD to learn more about safe procedures? Aesthethic VideoSource offers a laser hair removal instructional DVD: you can view a free excerpt, download a pay-per-view version, or purchase the DVD on their website.