Following this news item, Eric Bernstein, MD, spokesperson of the ASDS, provides exclusive commentary to SkinInc.com about details to consider from a medical spa professional standpoint when working with laser hair removal clients.
"Laser hair removal can be a life-changing procedure for many men and women, saving time and energy that would have been spent shaving," said Eric Bernstein, MD, spokesperson for the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS). "Many people benefit because their skin takes on a smoother appearance since the laser shrinks the hair follicles."
The procedure uses beams of light to penetrate the skin and target the pigment in the hair shaft and induce a mild inflammatory response to the hair follicle that signals the hair to rest for a very long period of time. Although initially laser hair removal worked best for people with light skin and dark hair, different lasers can now be used to perform the procedure on people with skin of color to obtain outstanding results. Unfortunately, treatment is next to impossible for people with blonde or white hair because the laser targets the pigment in the hair shaft. If there isn't any pigment, or very little, there's nothing for the laser to 'see.'
Laser hair removal can be performed almost anywhere on the body, but many women undergo the procedure to remove hair on their underarms, face, bikini area and legs, while most men opt for the back, face and neck, where irritating bumps from shaving can form. Typically, patients require four to six treatments at six to eight week intervals to remove all the hair. For larger areas, like the legs or back, treatments are done at slightly longer intervals and less frequently to completely eliminate hair.
Shaving bumps respond extremely well to laser hair removal, and the bumps usually go away even before all the hair is gone.
According to Bernstein, patients should always ask questions to ensure the treatment is right for their skin. If your client is considering laser hair removal, they should consider visiting a dermatologic surgeon who can evaluate if laser hair removal is appropriate for your skin and hair type and choose the right laser to safely and effectively perform the procedure.
Bernstein and the ASDS suggest asking the following questions to ensure the treatment is right for you. Here are a few questions clients should ask.
- Who will be performing or supervising my laser hair removal?
- Do you own the equipment or do you rent it?
- Did you buy the equipment from the company that manufactured it, and do they maintain it?
- What types of hair removal lasers do you offer?
- Do you have the type of laser that is best for my skin?
Eric Bernstein, MD, spokesperson of the ASDS, provides exclusive commentary to SkinInc.com about details to consider from a medical spa professional standpoint when working with laser hair removal clients.
“The AAD and ASPS both recommend that the people doing it have someone who really understands treatment onsite and have onsite supervision. You need to have a comprehensive program for people with bumps with shaving, sometimes you have to add a topical to help with this. Also, I will treat skin of color with a topical before I start the treatment. It is crucial to perform test spots on dark-skinned patients.
“I think if you have someone with skin type 5 or 6, you have to use a YAG laser. The margin of safety is better. Always start low. Do test spots, even if patients are in a hurry. You don’t want to take a risk of hurting the skin. Then bring the person back in a week. You’re not looking for efficacy; you’re making sure that you don’t get side effects. Make sure it is a small test spot.
“You have to pay attention to the patient. Also, tell them the bad news and then repeat it. For example, if you want to have no hair, there will always be maintenance treatments. That’s in bold lettering on my consent form. Even if you don’t say it works in one treatment, that’s not what they think. It’s compelling to try and give good news, but you have to slake that impulse and under-promise and over-deliver.
“Clients to watch out for include people with unrealistic expectations, and people who tell you you’re the greatest and they’ve been to five other doctors and they are horrible. Also, I charge a lot more for initial visit to manage patients with complications from previous procedures. They’re going to be scared and worried and angry at you and their past doctor, so it always takes three visits for them to be happy.”