Laser hair removal

Dear Alice,

I am an incoming international student and I would like to keep doing some laser hair removal sessions. I know laser hair removal has become really a "fashion" and I would like to go somewhere safe, since I am concerned with my skin. I do not know the city, and I would like to know if there is any place that can be safe to do this.

Thank you.

Dear Reader,

From shaving, plucking, threading and waxing, to hair removal creams or chemical depilatories, to more permanent solutions like electrolysis and laser hair removal, there are pros and cons to every hair removal method. While different removal methods might seem more in fashion at a given time, choosing one is best done with considerations beyond trends and popularity. Cost, comfort, and safety are also critical factors to keep in mind in such hairy situations. Since you’ve already been doing laser hair removal sessions and would like to continue with them, it sounds like you’re a fan of the method, have considered the alternatives, and are familiar with its side effects. Recommendations for a safe location or provider that also fits the bill for individual needs may vary from person to person. However, there are some factors to be on the lookout for as you are searching for a new place for this service.  

When you can’t begin your search for a laser hair removal place on the recommendation of a friend, family member, or trusted practitioner, consider the following while looking for a laser hair removal specialist in a new city:

  • Verify credentials. Sources agree, including the American Academy of Dermatology, that seeking out a board-certified dermatologist who provides this service is recommended. Utilizing the services of a trained and licensed professional will ensure that they are able to answer any questions you have and handle any potential complications or side effects. In any case, check for continuing education, professional organization memberships, and other certifications to see if they have gone above and beyond with their training.
  • Go in for a consultation first. Many practitioners provide free consultations to help you determine their experience. You can discuss how well suited you are to laser hair removal treatment, the possible risks, and expected outcomes. Ask how long the practitioner has been performing laser hair removal and how many procedures they have done. You could also ask to see pictures of their work.
  • Evaluate the space. By inspecting the procedure space, it gives you a chance to evaluate cleanliness, professionalism, and comfort.
  • Get feedback by reading reviews on rating web sites.
  • Consider cost. Multiple treatments are required to achieve permanent hair growth reduction. Since laser hair removal can be costly (and may not be covered under your health insurance), be wary of any special low-cost deals — such services may be performed by people who have little or no formal training. Don’t risk a botched session that could result in a high-cost fix.

Another option to consider using is at-home laser hair removal devices. These are available over-the-counter and can be significantly cheaper than most professional services. However, it has been noted that these devices are likely to offer only modest reduction in visible hairs and that there are no long-term studies that have been conducted to determine their safety and effectiveness. What's more, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not consider these "medical" devices. As such, they aren't subject to the same regulatory standards for safety. If you do decide that a bit of do-it-yourself is up your alley, it's a good idea to speak with a dermatologist first before trying an at-home laser hair removal system. Your regular health care provider may be able to recommend one in your area.

Hope this helps and welcome!

Last updated Oct 21, 2016
Originally published Nov 16, 2012

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