We established that laser hair removal is safe and that the treatment works on every skin color and hair color. Although everybody can technically undergo laser hair removal, the procedure still has some contraindications that you need to think about before starting your treatment.
Laser hair removal is commonly perceived by the public as a beauty routine. However, it is not. Indeed, laser hair removal is an aesthetic procedure that could have significant side effects should a patient withhold information from their technician.
One key element to successful laser hair removal is open communication about medical history and current prescription. Indeed, you may fall into one of those contraindications for laser hair removal not knowingly, which could be very damageable. For that reason, it is vital that you read through this list of known contraindications to better prepare you for your laser or IPL hair removal treatment.
Laser hair removal and pregnancy
While there is no evidence that laser hair removal can negatively impact the foetus, there is also no evidence that it does not. Prevention is better than cure. Therefore, it is safer to interrupt any laser hair removal treatment a patient may have started before knowing of their pregnancy, and go back to it at least two months after giving birth.
Furthermore, hair growth is mostly stimulated by hormones. During pregnancy, a mother-to-be experiences huge fluctuations in hormone levels. She might see hair growth where there was nothing before. As a result, any attempt to remove hair may prove fruitless.
Suntanning and fake tan
It is important not to confuse naturally dark skin with tanned skin. Laser hair removal works on brown and black skin thanks to lasers able to bypass the dermis without relying too much on melanin to do so. Natural pigmentation is not a contraindication to laser hair removal.
Tanning however is widely different and one of the few big contraindications for laser hair removal. Tans, whether caused by the sun, spray tans, or tanning moisturisers, place the melanin in the skin in an unnatural 'excited' state. Not only can it interfere with the treatment and increase risks of burning but may also incur other light damage like brown spots or hyperpigmentation.
Chemical creams and other hair removal methods
Laser hair removal requires a hair root to target. Indeed, it is the connection between hair and follicle that allows the energy to go from the former to the latter. Waxing, sugaring and plucking all remove the hair with its root from the shaft. There is therefore nothing to target. A client who recently waxed must wait six weeks to ensure all the hair has grown back.
Depilatory creams are packed with harmful chemicals meant to dissolve the hair by killing keratin. Unfortunately, those chemicals target keratin in skin and hair altogether. This can permanently damage the skin and therefore become a contraindication to laser hair removal. Indeed the risk of scarring remains. A patient who recently used such creams must wait six weeks prior to their laser session.
Photo-sensitising topical creams and oral medication
Some medication can increase photosensitivity. Not only will they make the treatment more painful but they can also increase irritation. Those medications are very common and may require the doctor to push back the treatment session anywhere from two weeks to several months.
For example, patients on antibiotics should wait at least 10 days after their last intake before resuming their laser hair removal treatment. Patients on Retin-A or Tetracycline must discontinue their medication a month prior to resuming their laser treatment. Patients on Accutane must stop taking their medication three months prior to their next laser session.
Chemical peels and glycolic treatments
Other contraindications for laser hair removal include facial treatments such as chemical peels or glycolic treatments. You may have a facial and then undergo laser should both treatments be in two different areas. Chemical peel and glycolic treatment will leave the skin very sensitive and may lead to pigmentation which the laser can target.
A chemical peel removes the top layer of the skin to show a newer, fresher skin. Glycolic treatments are milder but still leave the skin sensitive. The skin needs time to heal and any redness, sensitivity or pigmentation to disappear before laser skin treatments.
There are the most common contraindications for laser hair removal. However most of them are not permanent. If you are unsure about contraindications, you may book a free consultation to discuss with the technician. Open communication is key to a successful laser treatment. Knowing your history and current medical condition will help technicians decide whether you are a good candidate for laser hair removal.