There’s a lot of mystery and ambiguity surrounding laser treatments in the general population. Some hearken it as the miracle cure-all that works via pixie dust and unicorn tears while others have an image in their mind of a doctor shining a red laser pointer onto their faces or into their eyes. Lasers aren’t that complicated once you get down to it. Here are 6 things you need to know before stepping under the laser:
1. No, lasers don’t run on pixie dust or unicorn tears
Laser is actually an acronym. I’ll bet you didn’t know that (or maybe you did—and if that’s the case great!). It stands for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. Lasers work with focused light. The light converts to heat as it passes through skin which can be harnessed to achieve a multitude of effects and treatments. In the case of laser hair removal, for example, the heat is absorbed by the hair’s dark pigment within the follicle. The heat damages that follicle, which ultimately inhibits hair growth.
2. Stay out of the sun before an appointment
This is critical for laser hair removal because the treatment cannot be received on tanned or sunburned skin. Yep. Save the summer glow till AFTER your treatment.
3. Everyone responds to lasers differently
Because we’re all individuals and not just a homogenous mob of genetic clones, different skin will respond to lasers in different ways. Most physicians account for this by conducting a small test patch to gauge how your skin reacts (depending on the type of treatment).
4. Results require consistency
As is the case with most laser treatments, usually multiple sessions are needed to achieve optimal results. So, if you’re looking for a one and done solution—do yourself a favor (and save some money) by looking elsewhere. Your physician will work with you to determine how many sessions your treatment will require.
5. Most treatments aren’t “relaxing”
Laser therapy is often accompanied by mild snaps—similar to the snapping of a rubberband against your skin. So, just keep your expectations in check before you saunter in thinking you’re about to get the Platinum Spa package. It will probably be uncomfortable.
6. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen
After treatment with a laser, your skin will become highly sensitive to the sun and UV rays. Slather on that sunscreen to prevent any harmful skin damage.