The importance of a Laser Hair Removal consultation.

Laser IPL Machine

We get it… you’ve been thinking about undergoing Laser Hair Removal treatments for a long time and finally decide to make the plunge – throwing away the razors and living a life free of the dreaded razor-rash, and being mostly hair-free all year round. It’s possibly an exciting time for you, but Laser Hair Removal is no joke and needs to be taken seriously! Choosing the wrong provider could you hundreds (maybe even thousands) of dollars out of pocket on unsuccessful treatments, not to mention wasting huge amount of time. Worse still, you could end up with severe burns!

If you decide to choose us for your Laser Hair Removal treatments, the first step is always a consultation. This is mandatory regardless of whether you’ve had treatments in past or you’re completely new to Laser Hair Removal. And before you ask – no, you can not have treatments on the same day as your consultation.

We chose this more inconvenient approach because we’re professionals at what we do. So before you decide to go elsewhere, take a moment to read on and discover why we chose this approach. It may surprise you.

Why do we place such importance on the consultation?

In the simplest possible way, this is why a consultation is so important:

  1. First and foremost, we care about your health and safety.
  2. We want to get you results – quickly, safely and effectively.
  3. Refer to number 1.

We see it all the time – lack of results or very poor results!

This can almost ‘always’ be attributed to a poor consultation. In fact, if the consultation is done correctly, and you’re dealing with a trained professional, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever why you shouldn’t get results. Yet we continue to see clients on a regular basis that have had several treatments at other clinics and although they are great candidates for laser hair removal, no results have been achieved. This should not be possible, but it’s actually extremely common.

FACT – Laser/IPL/SHR is unregulated in the state of Victoria. This means that anyone (literally, anyone) can perform laser treatments on you without a single qualification or even just ‘basic’ skin knowledge. If they can afford the machine costs, then they can legally perform treatments.

What does a laser consultation achieve?

By performing a consultation, it allows us to discuss any medical conditions and medications that may be detrimental to the treatment (or contraindicated). We run through pre and post care as well as expectations and outcomes so that you can make an informed decision as to whether laser hair removal is in fact the right treatment for you. You may decide that after considering all the facts, laser hair removal is just not the best option.

If you decide it is the best option and wish to proceed, and we deem you’re a good candidate, then we move onto the ‘test-patch’. If you’re not a good candidate, then we’ll discuss possible alternatives. Rest assured, if we don’t believe we can get you results, we’re not going to waste your time or ours trying. We’ll be upfront an honest about this from the beginning.

A key aspect of the consultation is the ‘test patch’. This allows us to see how your skin and body responds to the laser at different settings (power levels). We use this test patch to help identify base-line treatments settings. It also gives you the opportunity to experience what laser treatments will feel like.

In short, a consultation ensures the laser hair removal is in fact a safe and suitable treatment option for you.

What are base-line treatment settings?

This is essentially the highest power level we can use on your skin without inflicting any kind of burn. For someone who is very fair skin, higher power levels are possible. For someone with darker skin tones, power levels will be generally be lower.

We use these settings to achieve the best results possible, as safely as possible, and as quickly as possible – while minimizing the risk adverse side effects and reactions (such as burns).

These settings are documented and monitored from treatment to treatment (they are different for everyone) and will be slightly adjusted as treatments progress.

Does a consultation eliminate all risks?

Unfortunately not, but it does dramatically reduce those risks when done correctly. In some very rare cases, things can and do go wrong, but if the consultation has been done correctly, it becomes significantly easier to rectify and manage.

Even if you’ve had laser in the past, we don’t know what machine was used or what settings. So again, for your health and safety we treat all clients the same (you must complete a consultation with us).

Adverse reactions (such as burns) are not instant. In fact, they can take hours to present, at which point it’s too late – blisters have already started to form, your skin is on fire, and you’re about ready to make a trip to the Emergency Department for medical assistance.

The importance of a test-patch.

We mentioned test-patches earlier – and we’ll now demonstrate just how important they really are!

The test-patch is performed on a covered area of the body in an inconspicuous area (such as chest, back, upper arms, behind the knee etc). It consists of 2 to 4 pulses/shots of the laser – with each pulse getting progressively more powerful. Worst case scenario – you’ll end up with a single red spot about the size of a 20 cent piece. In the vast majority of the cases, it’s barely visible and usually dissipates within hours.

Assuming this turns into something a little more severe – lets say a minor burn – it’s extremely well isolated and it’s covered/protected by clothing. It can then be easily managed (by applying an icepack for example). We then have an opportunity to evaluate what went wrong and why.

Now lets assume that no test-patch was performed and/or you received treatments on the same day as your consultation. No base-line settings have been determined (so the therapist performing the treatments is flying blind) and we don’t actually know how your skin is going to respond to the laser. You’ve just had both your legs completely lasered. An hour after the treatment you start experiencing some pain and and discomfort. Your legs feel like they’ve been sunburnt. Within 2 to 3+ hours large red circles start to appear from your ankles all the way up into your groin area. Within 6 hours blisters are starting to form and you’re now on your way to the ED for medical assistance.

Plot twist – laser settings were reasonably low and for most people it wouldn’t cause an issue. It’s later discovered that due to lack of care and knowledge of the treating clinician, the client was taking photosensitising medications which increased their sensitivity to light based treatments (such as laser) which increased their risks of burns.

No consultation was performed and/or I received treatment on the same day. What are the risks?

As discussed above, this is a common practice by inexperienced, unprofessional therapists and clinics alike.

These careless, express-like operators hold little to no regard for your health and safety whatsoever. Unfortunately, it’s far more common then it should be (especially among the larger chain stores) but thankfully in many cases, the only thing at stake is a lighter wallet with little to no results to show for it.

Most therapists and clinics that operate in this way use extremely low power levels which don’t inherit any kind of risk (or minimal risk) of burns. It’s called “under treating” and will discuss this more in a moment. Unfortunately, by using such low power levels, hair follicles are also going to remain untouched.

The outcome – you’ve paid money for a treatment that was never going to achieve any kind of result. You would have been better off buying a lotto ticket because the odds of winning the lotto are probably higher then you getting any kind of results from one of these careless laser operators.

Worst case scenario – a much higher risk of adverse side-effects and reactions occuring.

What is ‘Under Treating’ and why should I be concerned?

‘Under treating’ (using low power/energy levels) is how many clinics get around doing a thorough consultation. But once again, it’s highly unlikely they will be treating you at high enough (optimal) power levels that will achieve any result so you’re basically wasting your time with clinics that do this. The treatment will have little to no effect on hair reduction.

It’s also commonly employed by large chain stores that will be very insistent on your purchasing large treatment packs (in the 10+ range) and insisting you visit every 4-6 weeks – although we’ve noticed some smaller clinics also playing this game.

In addition, it allows clinics to employ inexperienced staff and use them to perform treatments which they shouldn’t be performing. They’ll be using power levels so low that it eliminates almost every possible risk.

You’ve been warned. Pay attention to the signs. If the clinic you’re visiting is willing to perform such treatments on you without a thorough consultation, and/or on the same day as your consult, they are not professionals. They’re more interested in taking your money then they are doing the job properly. They’ll sell you 10+ treatments and then use low power levels to ensure you use all of those 10 treatments.

How are Laser Hair Removal results achieved?

In order to get the best results, we need to operate the laser at the highest energy level settings possible for your skin colour/tone. It needs to be high enough to affect hair growth, scatter pigment or collapse a vascular lesion – but it can’t burn your skin in the process.

This takes skill and knowledge. There is a lot more to it than just pointing a laser at you and pressing a button – although this is what the industry would have you believe. Hence, we are now stuck in a situation where advanced treatments like laser are considered ‘trivial’ at best, and you’ve got graduates fresh out beauty school operating these devices yet they’ll struggle to tell you what the 5 layers of the Epidermis are, let alone know the difference between photosensitising and photosynthesizing.

How do we find the highest energy levels to achieve best results, safely?

The consultation is key!

Finally, this is why we consider the consultation to be the single most important aspect of the entire treatment process. You could have the best, most expensive laser on the planet – but if the person operating it doesn’t know what they are doing, if they don’t perform a thorough consultation, if they don’t perform a test patch – then the laser doesn’t matter, and you will get zero results coupled with significantly increased risks.

Essentially, a lot of wasted time and money and an increased risk of severe burns. That to us doesn’t sound like a great scenario to be in, but hey… it’s your time and money!

If we haven’t convinced you by now why the consultation is mandatory, and the vital role it plays in the treatment process, and you’d still much prefer to walk-in to some high street salon and get treatments done on the spot, then all we can do is wish you all the very best.

Perhaps it will take a lot of wasted time and money before you reconsider. Perhaps it will take something much worse.

Keep in mind – it’s much more expensive to fix a mistake, and some mistakes can’t easily be fixed.