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Sun Exposure and Laser Hair Removal
What You Need to Know

Recent or inconsistent sun exposure can increase the risk of having a skin reaction. We do not want to see this happen to you. Our goal is to keep your skin safe.

Sun exposure creates pigment (melanin) in the skin. It forms deep within the skin and then spreads throughout the skin layers as time passes. Since laser light is attracted to pigment, it will be attracted to these new layers of pigment instead of the hair which can result in serious skin reactions, including blisters. As time passes, these layers spread throughout your skin making it safer to treat. Those clients who receive consistent exposure, will have multiple layers of pigment. The laser simply sees this as a darker skin tone. See diagram below for more details.

Since it takes about 30 days for the newly formed layer of pigment to spread throughout your skin, we must wait 30 days to treat after the following events:

- a sunburn, no matter what your sun exposure was prior

- a new exposure after little to no exposure

- a recent significant change to skin color, such as might happen after a tropical vacation

If you come in for treatment after one of these events or during the 30 days after, we will need to reschedule you. This is not to cause you inconvenience, it is to minimize the risk of a serious skin reaction. If you think that sun exposure may be an issue, please call the center and speak with a manager. She can help determine if we need to reschedule your appointment. This could save you a trip!

Does this mean that you can’t enjoy the sun or outdoor activities while receiving laser hair removal? Absolutely not!

We live in a climate where sun exposure is hard to avoid. We do recommend the use of a good sunscreen containing zinc oxide for overall skin health. If you tan, through outdoor activities or sun bathing, we can treat you if you are outside the 30 day window of risk. If your skin becomes significantly darker, you may be moved to the ND:Yag laser for treatment. If you haven’t been in for awhile and believe that your skin color has changed, please call the center as we may need to reschedule your appointment to the appropriate laser for your skin color. You will also be asked to sign a tanned skin addendum that explains that tanned skin may take more than the average number of treatments.

Sun Exposure Diagrams of Pigment

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After repeated exposures the pigment is more evenly dispersed throughout the skin. The laser energy will now be focused on the hair follicle rather than the pigment in the skin. This picture illustrates skin that receives consistent sun exposure. Consistent being at least once every 7-10 days.

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Another exposure occurs 2 weeks later. Remains high risk as there are only 2 layers of pigment present to absorb the energy. Laser will be attracted to these layers of pigment instead of the hair follicle. This picture illustrates the skin 2 weeks after initial exposure (upper line of dark pigment) and then another exposure.

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This is the skin of someone with no prolonged sun exposure and sunscreen is used on a daily basis. Laser energy will be focused on the hair follicle. This picture illustrates skin that is not tanned. No lines of darker pigment seen.

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After another exposure, the risk is still there, but is decreasing. There are now 3 layers of pigment present to absorb the energy. Laser is still attracted to the skin pigment instead of the hair follicle. This picture illustrates the skin 3 weeks after initial exposure and then 2 subsequent exposures. You can see the dark lines of pigment spreading throughout the skin.

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New pigment has formed. This is typical after a first exposure, sunburn or significant skin darkening. The laser will be attracted to this pigment instead of the follicle, concentrating the energy to this layer. High risk of serious skin reaction. This picture illustrates the skin during the first week after an initial exposure.

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