Lasers have come along way since they were first introduced about 25 years ago. In the past, laser treatments were done at high-energy settings with fewer treatment sessions. Today’s trend is to do more treatments with lower energy levels, which minimizes the chances of burning, pigmentation, scarring and other unwanted side effects. Although laser treatments from a qualified doctor are safe, whether you’re removing redness, killing bacteria or eliminating hair, there are a few precautions you must take if you’re planning on undergoing a laser treatment.
1. Consider Your Skin Color
What works for one skin tone may not work for another since different laser wavelengths pick up different pigments—darker skin may not see optimal results with certain lasers. Darker skins tend to develop pigment changes (either lighter or darker) with lasers. The rule of thumb is the lighter the skin, the more energy it can handle.
2. Know Your Background
As with any cosmetic procedure, laser patients come from mixed ethnicities, and this is important to inform your doctor of. “While we can sort of gauge a patient’s background, it’s imperative to explain your ethnicity since underlying problems can arise if your skin is prone to hyperpigmentation,” says Chicago dermatologist Rebecca Tung, MD.
3. Don’t Use Retinoids and/or Retinol for One Week Before Treatment
Washington, DC, dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, explains that, “retinoids can make the skin more sensitive, which can lead to an increased recovery time.”
4. Stay Out of the Sun
While we don’t condone unnecessary sun exposure, the darker and more tan the skin is, the less effective the laser will be.
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