If laser hair removal targets melanin, how does that affect tanning afterward? (Please don’t say we should stay out of the sun or wear sunscreen, that’s just not reality.)
The radiation from the laser disrupts cells, destrotying some if done right and damaging others. One type of cell that can act differently when damaged are the cells that make the color for you hair and skin. These are caslle melanocytes. You have them in your skin and around the base of your hair follicles. They are actually a defense mechanism. You get tan because your body is trying to protect you from the sun’s radiation by blocking the rays that can damage cells. Laser and to a lesser extent, electrolysis, can cause a shock to these cells. That means if you’ve had sun a week or two before treatment or a week or two after, the next dose can cause these vulnerable cells to produce a lot more or a lot less pigment than they have before.
Those who take sun right after a laser treatment are susceptible to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. You can end up like you got a cigarette burn every place the laser hit you. This can take several months to fade, and in some people it’s permanent.
You should stay out of the sun AND wear sunscreen a week or two before and after each laser treatment. That’s reality.
[ January 02, 2003, 04:45 PM: Message edited by: Andrea ]
Because your skin has been damaged by strong (intensed) light beam, it is likely that you will feel far more itchy under sun.
Also, they advise you not to get tanned for better treatment result.
I didn’t mean tanning right around the treatment time. I was just wondering if the tan itself would be affected (say a trip to Hawaii 6 months later) because damage has been done to the cells producing melanin.
Stay out of the sun (or use SPF30) for two weeks after your last laser treatment of the season. After that start tanning gradually by increasing time in the sun a little at a time (15 min. increments). Also use a sunscreen starting with 15 then 8 then 4. I would decrease the strength of the sunscreen each weekend. That’s what works for me anyways.
6 months after your last treatment you should be fine. Then again the sun in Hawaii is probably more intense than in the mainland (except for FL,TX and CA) so you still need to take the normal precautions against burning.
If you try to tan too soon you are more likely to experience blistering and more severe sunburns.
As far as staying out of the sun BEFORE treatments, I have to stay out of the sun for about 3 months before my tan fades enough for laser treatments. This will probably vary a lot depending on the individual.