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Laser Hair Removal Scarring: A Legitimate Concern?

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Anytime someone schedules a cosmetic procedure, there is concern over the scars that might be left behind. The good news is there is much you can do to reduce your risk of scarring after laser hair removal. By understanding exactly how the procedure works and which doctor to choose, you can rest assured your laser hair removal session will be successful with minimal scarring to worry about.

Why Scarring Occurs

The main reason why some patients may experience scarring after laser hair removal is incorrect use of the laser tool. If blistering or burning occurs during the treatment, there is a greater likelihood that scarring will result. If the laser works more deeply into the skin than it needs to for hair removal, scarring may also occur in the form of a keloid – a dome shaped scar that rises above the surface of the skin. Misuse of the laser may be attributed to a number of factors, including using the wrong laser for a particular skin type or the inexperience of the clinician or doctor performing the treatment.

Risk Factors for Scarring

Before you walk into your laser hair removal appointment, you can have a pretty good idea of your risk factors for scarring from the procedure. These risk factors include:

  • Your skin tone
  • Your medical history and your body's ability to heal effectively
  • Use of Accutane
  • The type of laser used for the procedure
  • The experience of the staff in the clinic you choose

One or more of these risk factors doesn't mean you shouldn't have laser hair removal at all. It simply indicates that you should use additional care when selecting the doctor and clinic for your treatment and ask plenty of questions beforehand to ensure these risks are minimized.

An Ounce of Prevention

While the risk of scarring with laser hair removal is small, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk even further. These steps include:

1. Understanding your Skin Type:
As a general rule the best candidates for this procedure will have fair skin and darker hair. However, those with more melanin in their skin (darker skin tones) can also have successful, safe laser hair removal. The key is in using the right type of laser for the treatment. When a laser with a longer wavelength and increased depth of absorption is used on these skin types, the results are generally favorable with few, if any, side effects.

2. Choosing an Experienced Doctor or Clinic:
It is important to choose an experienced, capable doctor, nurse or technician to perform your laser hair removal. While many spas and "clinics" may advertise this service, the laser hair removal may or may not be done under the supervision of a medical professional. It is important to ask a few questions before scheduling your appointment to ensure you get the best doctor for your hair removal treatment. These questions might include:

  • How long have you been performing this procedure?
  • What type of laser will be used and why?
  • Are you certified in laser treatments?

3. Waiting after Accutane:
If you have been taking Accutane, it is best to wait at least a year after stopping the medication to schedule laser hair removal. This medication has been associated with some types of scarring.

4. Following Instructions:
For greatest success after your laser hair removal, it is important to follow your doctor's pre- and post-operative instructions carefully. This will ensure that your skin is properly prepared for the procedure ahead, and that it is given ample time to heal properly afterward.

Following these steps prior to your laser hair removal will make all the difference in the success of your procedure. Check out our list of laser hair removal providers for an experienced medical professional near you.

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