There are so many choices for Laser and IPL hair removal and skin treatments available nowadays, and it can be a bit of a minefield deciding who to choose to provide your treatments.
No matter what changes or advances may happen regarding Laser hair removal and skin treatments, one thing stays the same – the treatments are only as good as the person providing them. Care should be taken when choosing – don’t take risks with your skin!
QUESTIONS TO ASK
How long has your therapist/practitioner been operating Laser or IPL machines?
There’s no doubt that when it comes to Laser and light based treatments, it pays to find a qualified and experienced practitioner. You don’t particularly want to be treated by someone who has not gained much experience, or been supervised properly before being let loose on the general public!
If you’re being treated by a newly-qualified operator, ask whether there will be a more experienced practitioner in the room to oversee your treatment.
What qualifications have they achieved?
Most Laser machine suppliers will provide in-house training, but this can be as little as one or two hours. They will show the therapist/practitioner how to switch the machine on and off, and which settings to use.
There is no regulatory body overseeing who can and can’t operate Laser devices at the moment, however, there is a recognised qualification called Core Of Knowledge, which is a syllabus outlined in the UK Department of Health's MHRA publication "Guide to the Safe Use of Lasers, Intense Pulsed Light and LED's in Medical, Dental and Aesthetic Practice".
In the UK it is considered to be the basic theory that all users of these devices should attain. Many local authorities and other regulatory bodies as well as indemnity insurers usually require evidence that all users have completed a 'Core of Knowledge' course. It is also usual to undertake a refresher course once every few years. The Core of Knowledge course goes into much greater detail about the safe use of Lasers, including correctly assessing skin types, medical checks, Laser safety, first aid, and what action to take in the case of adverse reactions.
Don’t be shy about asking to see qualifications and insurance cover – after all, you’re putting yourself in their hands, so make sure they are safe hands.
What type of Laser machine are they operating with?
There are some types of machines on the market which are not suitable for use on lighter hair or darker skin tones. These machines will work on light skin and dark hair best. There are newer technologies now on the market, which will work on lighter hairs and darker or tanned skins. These are commonly known as SHR (Super Hair Removal) which have been designed to work at much lower levels. For example, the high intensity and high temperatures (70ºc) that are associated with IPL/laser, are much improved on with SHR, which requires a comparatively low terminal temperature (45ºc) to be clinically effective, with little or no trauma to surrounding tissue.
How many treatments will I need?
This is a question that all practitioners would love to be able to answer accurately, however, several factors can influence the outcome of treatments, including hormonal imbalances, medications, and colour and strength of hair. As a general rule, between 6-12 treatments can be required to achieve a good clearance of hair. Some newer technologies work at faster rates, for example 4-8 treatments, so it’s worth checking out which technology is being offered first.
How often will I need to have treatments?
Generally every 4-6 weeks is a usual time period between treatments. Your Laser practitioner should advise you of this at your consultation.
Can I just book in and start my treatments?
A good Laser clinic will never accept a booking for treatment without carrying out a thorough consultation first. Consultations give you the opportunity to ask all the relevant questions and satisfy yourself that the clinic and staff are qualified and experienced. Some clinics/salons will offer free consultations, whilst others will make a charge, refundable on booking any treatments. However, a good clinic will allow you to go away and think about everything that has been discussed first, including the prices for treatment. You shouldn’t feel under pressure to sign up at the consultation because you are being offered a ‘special deal’ that won’t be available to you afterwards.
Why is it that some clinic/salon’s prices can be as much as 50% cheaper?
Special discounts and limited time offers can be found quite often when you are looking around for Laser treatments. There’s nothing wrong with this of course; even the top clinics in the country offer discounts, but when big discounts are being offered, it’s worth thinking twice before going ahead. Why are they offering 50% off? Is it because they are just starting out and hoping to attract new clients (and money) quickly? This can help their staff get lots of practice if they are new to Laser, but do you really want to be a ‘guinea pig’? If something sounds too good to be true, it often is!
We all like to get a good deal, and it’s easy to shop around online looking for discounts, but when it comes to your health and safety, it makes sense to look into things in more detail before going ahead. After all, you can still be spending a great deal of money, even at 50% off, so do your homework and ask questions! Example – “Who will be doing my treatments?”