Can You Get Laser Hair Removal While Pregnant?
If you're pregnant, you'll want to check with your doctor before getting laser hair removal. Karavolas says they can treat most areas during pregnancy but they don't do the bikini line or abdomen, though "there are no known contraindications."
How to Prepare For Laser Hair Removal
If you're booking your laser hair removal appointment in the spring or summer, you will need to be more careful to ensure the skin doesn't get any color by avoiding the sun and wearing a high SPF. You also can't have any self-tanner products on at the time of your appointment.
"If treating areas that have a lot of hair — such as bikini, legs, [and] back — shave one to two days prior," Karavolas says. As with most lasers, you should also avoid any retinoids for a few days before treatment and antibiotics five days before.
How naked you should expect to get depends on the area you're getting treated. For an underarm session, you can leave your shirt on as long as the sleeves can be rolled up. "By rolling the sleeve up right towards their shoulder, the underarm area is exposed, thereby allowing the technician to treat the area," he says. "Normally, one keeps their bra on."
For your bikini line, you have options. "Keeping the underwear on is fine, as the bikini line covers a few inches outside and a few inches inside. One can also wear disposable underwear that could make the treatment much easier." If you leave your underwear on, the technician may ask you to pull your clothing to the side to ensure it doesn't get in the way.
How Long Does Laser Hair Removal Take?
Laser hair removal is a fast, in-and-out treatment. Depending on the size of the area, a laser hair removal session should only take 10 to 30 minutes. Small areas like underarms will take 10 minutes or less, while larger areas, like the back or legs, will take upward of 30 minutes.
Laser Hair Removal Aftercare
Laser hair removal aftercare is pretty simple: no hot showers, saunas, or steam rooms immediately after, although lukewarm showers are OK. You also shouldn't work out the same day as treatment. "Once irritation is gone, workouts can begin," Karavolas says.
This next part is a biggie: "You can shave in between sessions but cannot wax or tweeze," he says. Laser hair removal targets the hair follicle, meaning tweezing or waxing, which pulls out the hair by the base, is a no-go.
Unlike waxing, you're allowed to shave between sessions without worrying about tampering with the results. When it's time for your next follow-up appointment, just make sure the hair is still visible.
"Any topical retinoids or harsh antibiotics that may cause photo-sensitivity should be avoided," Karavolas says. This is important to note if you plan on getting an area on your face treated and use skin-care products with retinol in them.
When to Start Hair Removal Treatments
Here's the tricky part. Even though hair removal is top of mind in the spring as you book your summer vacations, that's not the best time to get it. "The best time to start laser hair removal is fall to winter," Karavolas says. "If you expose your skin to the sun without sunscreen or get very tan, we recommend you wait for the cooler months."
Laser Hair Removal at Home
First, it's worth noting that the strength of the laser in a dermatologist's office is always going to be much stronger, and therefore more effective, than any at-home laser hair removal device. That said, if you are a good candidate and have the right tools, you can safely perform the treatment at home — so long as you're smart about it.
"At-home laser hair devices are pretty safe and are great alternative to professional laser hair removal," dermatologist Marie Hayag, MD, previously told POPSUGAR. "Most devices don't actually use 'laser' but intense pulsed light, which is absorbed by pigment in the hair follicles. The repeated heating of the hair follicles destroy them and thus decreases hair growth."
Even though these devices are generally safe to use at home, you should still be aware that they're designed to reduce hair growth — not permanently remove it. "The at-home devices use lower energy settings than the in-office treatments so it takes longer time to treat the area and more treatments are needed," Hayag says. "However, it is a great maintenance treatment for in-between professional laser hair removal and is a wonderful option for home use."