Turn on the radio, flip through a magazine, or just drive around town and you are probably bombarded with ads for laser hair removal! It sounds perfect…get a few treatments, and never shave again. But are the results worth the high cost? Not all laser centers are created equal, and not everyone is a good candidate for laser hair removal. High competition among medical spas has resulted in major price cutting. Resist the temptation to just go with the cheapest package! Here are a few things to consider before making the splurge. You would probably carry out the same degree of research when checking treatment options for Botox and how much does botox cost for eyes.

Technician Qualifications

First, do your research on the top laser centers in your area…you will probably find a lot of differences! While many reputable companies exist, some of them require just one day of training for the skin therapist to start seeing clients. It is important to understand that lasers are powerful, and if an inexperienced technician makes a simple mistake, you could be left with a burn (or worse, a scar that can last a lifetime). Call around and ask the centers how the therapists are trained, if a doctor oversees their facility, and how long they have been in operation. At the very least, your technician should be a licensed skin therapist. Most laser centers offer free consultations; take advantage of this opportunity to scope out the facility, the workers, and the overall feeling.

Hair Color

Currently, laser hair removal is not very effective for blond or red hair. Why? The lasers locate the hair follicle through the melanin (or pigment) in the hair. Blond and red hair have very little melanin, so the laser has a hard time finding them. There are creams available that can be applied to light hair prior to treatment, but they can be quite a hassle and definitely can’t guarantee ideal results.

Treatment Schedule

It is important to know that a series of treatments is necessary to achieve results. This is because your hair grows in 3 different phases. A laser can only disable a hair in the anagen (or ‘active growth’) phase. Since only a percentage of your hairs are in the anagen phase at each treatment, it takes several attempts to finally disable all of your hairs. Each laser center has a different theory on schedules, so get the logic behind each one and make your best judgment. There is no technical right or wrong way, but expect around a year’s time to complete your laser cycle. Even then, you may still need additional treatments.

Payment Plans

One thing is certain; laser treatments are not cheap! When doing your research, find out what each center’s payment options are. Some may let you pay as you go, while others may allow the total to be paid over two payments. Many laser centers accept Care Credit®, so it’s worth researching that option. Don’t forget to ask what the refund policy is in case you move, decide to discontinue, etc.

Guarantees and Touch-Up Treatments

Run (don’t walk) away from any facility that guarantees you’ll never have to shave again! Even after a treatment cycle is complete, there is a good chance that you will want to go back for a touch-up (or more) at some point in the future. This is because some of your hairs may never have been in the anagen phase during treatment, new follicles can pop up, etc. Ask what their policy is in regards to touch-ups after your cycle has been completed and paid for. Many places offer half off future treatments for touch ups.

Maintenance and Precautions

If you decide to commit to laser hair removal, be sure you also commit to the rules that go along with it! You cannot have prolonged sun exposure 2 weeks before or after a treatment…this causes excess melanin in the skin, which means the laser can give you a severe burn. Aside from a nasty blister, sun exposure can also make your treatments less effective. If you take medications that are photosensitizing, you will have to discontinue them for a while before and after each treatment. Speak to your doctor and the laser center about your medications and if this is an option for you. If you are on Accutane (or similar), laser is definitely not an option! No waxing in between treatments, and no treatments on areas where you have used a topical form of Vitamin A in the last 2 weeks.

Ready to move forward with laser hair removal? Congratulations! It is an exciting decision, but not one that should be taken lightly. Do your research, ask friends, and select a treatment center that feels right to you. This is the only skin you will ever have, so it’s important to put it in good hands. If you commit to the schedule, your results can be phenomenal.