Beware of cheap laser hair removal

By Warren B. Seiler III MD

I hear too often from a new patient that they tried laser hair removal somewhere else and they were not happy. Either “it didn’t work” or they had burns. I saw two patients this week that had it done somewhere before coming to me. One patient got a “cheap package deal” at one place and another patient got a package on Groupon. Because I really hate to hear about people being mistreated, I don’t like to hear when these things happen.

After asking one patient some questions this week, I found the place that treated him didn’t even shave his hair and just fired the device on his long grown out hair.  I can’t say more strongly how big of a “no-no” this is. Not only will that make it not work, it can lead to serious burns.

To get to the point, the reason why some places offer cheap laser hair removal is because they buy a cheap laser and simply don’t know what they are doing.  Many times a physician is not properly involved which is against state and federal law, leading to the ability to cheapen the price.

There are a couple of reasons why it may not have worked for those patients:

  • The place used a cheap laser
  • The place used the wrong laser
  • The person performing the treatment didn’t know how to do it right
  • The patient’s hair might not have been dark enough or shaved
  • Even with a good device, and the right patient, if you don’t do the procedure correctly, it may not work or even burn you

Something else you may not know is the following: Let’s say you go to the wrong place, spend some money on a “cheap package” and they don’t use the right device or properly do the treatment. Not only can you waste that money, but the wrong procedure can actually damage your hair enough so that after it goes away for some time, it grows back as a weak hair and is not the right hair (thickness and dark color) to then be treated the right way. In other words, if you are undertreated somewhere else and they just replace all your nice dark ripe hair with fragile light hairs, even the best device in the right hands may then not be able to help you because the hair is to light to absorb the energy and kill the follicle. This is why some people who go to the wrong place can get “hair reduction” but it all grows back (the follicles were not killed permanently, just weakened).

It may be hard to believe, because the media and these places promote laser hair removal as an “always safe, always works” procedure. Laser hair removal can work great for the right patient, with the right device, and with a trained professional. Otherwise it’s easy for it to not work or even burn you.

Don’t “get burned,” go to the right place first. Otherwise you will not only waste your money on the wrong place and/or get burned, it may lead to even the right treatment not working. Trust me, one of the most common things I see in my practice is the patient who comes to see me after going somewhere else and is embarrassed to admit and even upset with themselves for going cheap and wasting their money. You get what you pay for!

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