How to Find a Reputable Laser Hair Removal Clinic
Deciding which clinic to use for your laser hair removal is a decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. By following this guide, you'll make sure that your clinic is professional and is very likely to do a good job with your treatments.
1. Find Potential Clinics in the Local Area
The first step is to find a list of potential clinics in your area. The single best way to do that is to get a word of mouth referral from a friend that has been through the procedure.
Most people, however won't know anyone and so will have to go through the following means searching Google Maps for local search terms - "Laser hair removal Houston".
There isn't, yet, a suitable laser hair removal directory that you can use to find a local clinic (we're building one at the moment to help with this).
Write down the names and telephone numbers of clinics in your local area.
2. Check for Reviews Online
Yelp.com Consumer Reviews
Yelp.com is a web site that allows you to search for various local business reviews to find the best local business provider for your needs.
Simply search for "laser hair removal" and the local area:
You'll then be presented with a list of consumer reviews that you can browse through:
Tip: Review sites are generally quite good to get an idea of a service, but bare in mind that they are easily manipulated by people that have conflicts of interest
Take reviews with a pinch of salt - they're just another data point to take into account when deciding the best clinic for you.
3. Phone the Clinics on your List
By now you should have a short list of clinics that you want to find some more information about. The next step is to give them a call to filter out any that don't meet your criteria before you arrange a face to face consultation.
Questions to Ask Over the Phone
- Name of person you're talking to
- What type of lasers they use at the clinic and whether they are FDA approved
- What brand of laser they use at the clinic
- How long they've been doing treatments and the number of clients they've treated
- Name and qualifications of the doctor that specialises in treatments
- Whether the patch the test and consultation are free
Clinics will not be able to give you specific information about how much the treatment will cost, how many treatments will be needed and how effective the treatments are likely to be simply because it's very difficult to give an assessment without seeing the treatment area in person.
4. Go for Initial Consultations with Short-listed Clinics
Before signing up for any laser hair removal, you should have an initial consultation with the clinic. This shouldn't be over the phone, but actually in the physical location of the clinic in which the treatment takes place.
The initial consultation should allow you to ask all of the questions that you have about the hair removal treatment. You should be able to talk directly with the person who would be doing your treatment about any areas that you're unsure about.
Questions that you Should be Asking at your Consultation
- What qualifications do you have as a practitioner?
- What type of device are you going to be using? (Options are: Alexandrite, Nd:YAG, Ruby, IPL, Diode)
- How many years of experience do you have with this device?
- How many patients have been treated with this device?
- Is the device FDA approved?
- Is my hair and skin colour suitable for laser hair removal?
- What kind of results can I expect?
- How many treatments will it take to get the results that you've described?
- If I don't get the results your described from the treatment, what is your policy?
- How much is the total cost going to be for everything?
- How much pain will the treatment cause?
- What brand of device (this is the brand name not the laser type) are you going to be using?
- Do you provide any anaesthetic for dealing with the pain?
- What side effects can I expect to get from this device?
- Do you use any type of cooling system during the treatment?
- Do you offer a written guarantee for permanent hair reduction?
- What are the benefits of using this device over other devices on the market?
- If I receive a burn from your treatment, what is your policy?
Make sure you ask the clinic whether the person treating you will be a fully qualified physician to minimise any chance of injury as a result of treatment errors.
Don't Take the Answers as Gospel
Don't assume that the practitioner is giving you the correct answers to all these questions - doctors can also be swayed by marketing claims from product manufacturers that may not necessarily be true. They can also be mildly misleading when trying to make a sale. This, of course, is not true with all doctors, but a minority.
There is a lot of clinical research about laser hair removal and its effectiveness on skin types, the side effects that were experienced and ultimately the suitability. After the initial consultation, do your homework to make sure everything stacks up.
5. Have a Patch Test Done
It's common practice to have a patch test done on a small treatment area. This allows the practitioner to test a range of settings and for you to see how the skin will react to the treatment.
We recommend that you get a test patch done on an area of the skin that others can't see. After your patch test, you'll need to give it some time to see how your skin reacts, typically a week or so.
Tip: Don't be tempted to sign up for your long term treatment until at least a few days (preferably a week after your patch test) so that you're making an informed decision based on how your skin reacted.
6. Making the Right Decision
Keep Notes of Interactions
Keep a log of the interactions that you have with each clinic including the name, date and key points of the conversation for an easy comparison when the time comes to make a decision. When seeing multiple clinics, it's easy to get mixed up.
Get Everything in Writing
It's important that your have written confirmation about company policies for ineffective treatment and injury as a result of treatment so that you're covered.
Red Warning Signs of a Bad Clinic
If you experience any of the following warning signs during your visit to your hair removal clinic, then you should think closely about whether you want to become a client.
Were you Pressured into Making a Decision?
Just like any other service provider, laser hair removal clinics make their money by selling. Some sell in an ethical way, some give misleading information, some are ethical and precise in giving excellent information but all are trying to convert you into a paying customer.
There are some typical sales tactics that are sometimes used within the industry:
- Sign up today and we'll give you a 10% discount - The scarcity sales pitch takes advantage of our fears that we might miss out on an offer by delaying the buying decision. It's a sales tactic that, in my opinion, isn't particularly ethical given the nature of the decision you're being asked to make - don't be rushed.
- Bait and Switch Marketing with non refundable deposits - Some clinics advertise a free consultation before deciding whether to go through with the treatment - this is a good thing.
However, a small number of these clinics will actually make you pay for the initial consultation (despite advertising it for free) explaining that the money paid will go towards the final treatment cost.
Here is an example of someone who experienced this exact problem.
If a clinic employed bait and switch marketing or high pressure sales tactics on you, ask yourself if these are the type of people that you want to trust to carry out your laser hair removal. Personally, I would cross these clinics off my list.
Were you Promised Permanent Hair Removal?
Laser hair removal cannot legally be marketed as permanent hair removal, it can only be marketed as permanent hair reduction in accordance with the FDA.
There is a clear distinction between the two - removal means completely gone forever, where as reduction means the number of hairs are permanently reduced in the treated area. Electrolysis is the only method of hair removal that can be marketed as permanent hair removal.
If your clinic has guaranteed you permanent hair removal with a laser, then they are misinforming you (with or without intent doesn't matter) and you should not have treatments with them.