Laser Hair Removal
At Massachusetts Dermatology Associates we provide our patients on the North Shore, MA with best-in-class hair removal using Candela’s GentleMax Pro laser hair removal platform.
Frequently Asked Questions (Laser Hair Removal):
Who should consider laser hair removal with the Candela GentleMax Pro?
Those seeking long-term reduction of unwanted hair (darker hair only; ineffective for blond or white hair)
What results can I expect from the GentleMax Pro?
Significant reduction of unwanted hair (will require multiple sessions to get approximately 80% reduction of hair).
Who should not get treatment with the GentleMax Pro?
Those with a desire for a single treatment session that completely corrects their concern may be disappointed with the gradual improvement achieved with a series of (often 6-8) treatments with the GentleMax. Additionally, patients who have had significant sun exposure or have used self-tanning products less than 3 weeks before their scheduled treatment or who plan for significant sun exposure in the two weeks after treatment should reschedule. Patients who fall under the following categories should not be treated with the GentleMax: history of lupus, history of light induced seizures, currently pregnant, recent use of Accutane (isotretinoin) within the past 2 months, tattoos in area of desired treatment.
How does the GentleMax Pro work?
The laser creates a beam of high-intensity light that penetrates into the skin tissue, where it delivers a controlled amount of targeted therapeutic heat. The Candela GentleMax Pro is the premier device for laser hair removal and includes two lasers on a single platform, the Alexandrite laser (755 nM) and the ND:YAG laser (1064 nM), each of which can be used for both hair removal and red/brown lesion treatment. Both of these lasers selectively target pigment under the skin which explains why laser hair removal is not effective for treating blond or white hair. The laser for your treatments (Alexandrite or ND:YAG) will be chosen based on which one is safest and most efficacious for your treatment goals and skin type.
What body areas can I have treated?
GentleMax treatment can be applied to most areas of the body including the face, trunk, arms, legs, and bikini areas.
What body areas cannot be treated?
To avoid serious skin injury, tattoos and the skin immediately around tattoos (or tattooed permanent make-up) cannot be treated. Other areas that cannot be treated include: skin within the orbital rim (very close to eye) and areas with active cold sores or herpes lesions.
What are the side effects?
While most patients tolerate the procedure very well, there is typically some discomfort. Afterwards, you can expect redness, warmth, swelling, and/or itch in the treated area, which usually fades within a few hours of treatment but in rare cases can last several days. There is also a risk of (usually temporary, but rarely permanent) darkening or lightening of skin in treated areas, particularly in patients who do not adhere to strict sun protection. Blistering, bruising, or acne flares after treatment are rare but can occur. Bruising is more likely to occur if taking agents that thin the blood such as aspirin, ibuprofen, Aleve, other NSAIDS, warfarin, or herbal supplements such as ginkgo, ginseng, or garlic. Although scarring and infection is a possibility with any medical treatment, the chance of such an occurrence happening with the GentleMax is very low. If you have a history of keloid scarring, alert us so that we can perform test spots before treating larger areas. Eye protection is necessary to prevent eye injury. Paradoxical increased hair growth in treated areas is rarely observed (highest risk in females of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and South Asian heritage treated on the face and neck).
How many sessions will I need, and how long will the effects last?
On average, 6-8 treatments are needed to achieve desired effects (goal is 80%+ improvement), spaced at 6 week intervals. After patients complete their series of treatment, some will benefit from occasional maintenance / touch-up treatments to continue enjoying the results.
How shall I prepare for my treatment?
Do not tweeze, pluck, or wax for at least 3 weeks before treatment. Shave any hair present in the area to be treated approximately 1 day prior to treatment. There should be no stubble. On the day of treatment, please arrive with clean skin (the treatment area free of any makeup, self-tanner, deodorant, or lotions). Do not get any significant sun exposure or tanning bed exposure in the 4 weeks before your treatment session. Do not use sunless tanner within 3 weeks of the treatment (if there is any self-tanner residue you should exfoliate this prior to treatment to avoid laser burns). If you have a history of cold sores (oral herpes) or genital herpes, and you are getting a treatment around the mouth or genital area, you may be prescribed an antiviral medication to start taking the day before your treatment. Patients using bleaching creams or using tretinoin (or other topical retinoids such as adapalene) on treatment areas should stop using these agents 1 week before and may restart 2 weeks after treatment. Wear comfortable clothes to your appointment (preferably clothes that easily expose the treatment area such as tank tops for underarm treatment or shorts for leg treatment).
What is the procedure like?
You will sit reclined on an exam chair and the GentleMax Pro operator will apply pulses over your skin. With each pulse you will feel a light spray of coolant followed by a “snapping sensation”. Please let us know if you are feeling more than the expected degree of pain. You will be given goggles to wear during treatment (even with the goggle you might see flashes of bright lights, which is normal).
What can I expect and what shall I do after the procedure?
Immediately after your treatment a cold pack is usually placed over the treatment area to help reduce any redness and swelling. During the first 24 hours after treatment, your skin will experience a range of changes. This will vary from feeling mildly sunburned, sensitive, warm, swollen or even tight. In some people the skin may also appear pink or red. Avoid hot tubs, whirlpools, saunas and excessive sweating for 24-48 hours or until the redness has subsided. Some redness and/or “puffiness” around the treated area may linger on for a few days. Cool washcloths are helpful at home to reduce post-procedure discomfort. A deeply moisturizing product will also be helpful during this time period. You may use a topical over the counter hydrocortisone such as Vanicream HC. For itch not alleviated by hydrocortisone, an antihistamine such as Claritin or Zyrtec may be helpful. Since the skin surface is left intact and undamaged there should be no oozing or open areas. You may shower the day of your treatment. Do not scrub or exfoliate skin and gently pat your skin dry. Do not use skin exfoliants, retinols, tretinoin, alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA’s), or bleaching creams during the first 2 weeks after treatment. Make-up can be applied to cover any noticeable skin changes as long as skin is not irritated. We strongly suggest that you keep the treated area out of sun for the first 48 hours. During the first two weeks after treatment (and in between treatments) it is very important to minimize sun exposure. If you choose to be outside, use sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and broad spectrum UVA protection. Sun exposure in this period of time may cause longstanding (sometimes permanent) hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation. Even after finishing your GentleMax Pro treatments, we recommend that you continue to use SPF 30 or higher on a daily basis as part of your regular ongoing skincare routine.
Note that from 10-21 days after the treatment, shedding of the treated hair may occur and this appears as new hair growth but actually is the process of treated hairs being extruded to the surface. This is NOT new hair growth. You can clean and remove the hair by washing or gently wiping the area with a wet cloth. If treating underarms, you may wish to use a powder instead of a deodorant for 24 hours after the treatment to reduce skin irritation.