Should I Exfoliate Before Laser Hair Treatment?

Doctor Answers 4

Preparing For Laser Hair Treatment

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Stay out of the sun. A tan increases the risk of side effects, such as skin lightening. If you have a tan — either from sun exposure or sunless tanning products — wait until the tan fades completely before undergoing laser hair removal. Some doctors recommend staying out of the sun for up to six weeks before laser hair removal. Avoid plucking, waxing, and electrolysis. These hair removal methods can disturb the hair follicle and interfere with laser hair removal. Shaving is OK, however, since it preserves the hair shaft and follicle. In fact, shaving might even be recommended. Some studies suggest that shaving before laser hair removal improves results.

Laser Hair Treatment

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Before your Laser Hair Treatment you should shave the area a few days before. If you shave to close to your session the laser beam won't be able to pinpoint the hair follicles as accurately. After the treatment you may want to wash the area with a loofah or washcloth to encourage hair shedding and apply aloe. Also apply a daily sunscreen.



Elliot M. Heller, MD
New York Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 96 reviews

Prepare by first shaving

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The only exfoliation you can do before laser hair removal is shaving.  The light from the laser needs a deep target, and plucking or waxing will take away that target during the procedure.  You should shave before, so that the light does not have to burn through topical hair.

James Carraway, MD
Virginia Beach Plastic Surgeon

Preparing for laser hair removal treatments

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The following are my recommendations for preparing for laser hair removal:
1. Prior to laser treatment, it is important to shave the area. Otherwise hair gets pressed to the surface of your skin. When the hair shaft is destroyed by the laser it can injure the surrounding skin. Shave a day prior to your appointment, so if you nick yourself, the area will not be bleeding during your procedure. Any method of hair removal such as waxing or tweezing will remove the deeper portions of the hair follicle which contain the "target pigmentation" and will render laser hair removal ineffective for at least two weeks. Either shaving or depilatory creams can be used up to the day of the laser treatment as they do not remove the entire hair shaft.
2. Make sure the area has had no sun exposure for one month prior and one month after the laser procedure.
3. The use of any photosensitizing medications or over-the-counter supplements known to cause photosensitivity should delay laser hair removal treatment until these medications can be safely discontinued.
4. Topical retinoids used in the treatment area should be discontinued 1 to 2 days prior to treatment.
5. If a tan is present the treatment should be delayed until the tan has faded.
6. Make sure there is no inflammation in the skin of the area to be treated prior to the procedure.

Mitchell Schwartz, MD
South Burlington Dermatologic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.