Accutane will have you Googling pretty much anything to make sure you’re clear to use certain products, eat certain foods, or participate in certain activities while on the medication.
However, while you can pretty much resume your normal lifestyle after starting the medication, the answer to whether you can do laser hair removal while on Accutane is sadly going to be unsatisfactory.
No, you can’t do laser hair removal while on Accutane, as this medication will make your skin sensitive to heat and more susceptible to redness and irritation and even put you at a higher risk of blisters and burns from the laser.
And while that’s pretty much the entire answer, feel free to continue reading if you want to learn more about what Accutane is, how it works, and how it interacts with lasers.
What is Accutane And What Does It Do?
Accutane is the brand name for the medication known as isotretinoin, an oral medication used to treat severe acne on the face and body.
It is also commonly prescribed to people whose acne has resisted previous treatments, such as benzoyl peroxide, adapalene, and antibiotics, as well as those dealing with severe acne in larger areas such as the chest and back.
Accutane works by inhibiting the function of the oil-producing glands by reducing the gland’s size. Once the gland’s size is reduced, the gland will then produce less oil.
This can help acne since excess oil is essentially food for the acne-causing bacteria that live on the skin; therefore, lack of it will cause the bacteria to become starved, thus minimizing proliferation and eventually minimizing acne.
What Are The Side Effects of Accutane?
Despite its efficacy, Accutane is known to come with some unpleasant side effects, the most common ones including dry skin, chapped lips, and dry eyes.
Sometimes, people that are going through a long course of Accutane can experience joint pain, headaches, and hair loss, but these are rarer side effects that don’t happen to most people.
Another important thing to note about Accutane is that it’s also a teratogen, meaning it can cause birth defects in pregnant women.
For this reason, women taking Accutane must use two forms of contraception and take regular pregnancy tests to ensure they’re not pregnant while undergoing the medication and/or a couple of months after stopping it for precaution.
Additionally, Accutane can cause elevated liver enzymes in a small percentage of people who take it, which is why you should consider doing a liver enzyme panel (blood work) every month while you’re taking the medication so that your doctor can monitor your liver, especially if you drink alcohol.
How Long After Accutane Can You Do Laser Hair Removal?
Most dermatologists and laser technicians recommend waiting 3-6 months after you’ve stopped taking Accutane before getting laser hair removal.
This is because your provider will likely want to ensure that the medication’s side effects have dissipated and your skin has returned to its normal state.
Most people’s skin would get back to normal a month or two after stopping Accutane; however, doctors are responsible for ensuring there won’t be any risk of side effects or complications before allowing you to undergo any treatments, especially those that involve heat or lasers.
Additionally, a US research study published in December 2017 proved the safety of non-ablative fractional laser only one month after stopping Accutane and said – “All patients demonstrated normal wound healing post-NAFL treatments, and neither hypertrophic scars nor keloids were observed. Acne scar improvement was satisfactory.”
Therefore, it seems that the latest research supersedes the older guidelines of waiting up to six months post-Accutane for certain laser procedures, such as non-ablative fractional laser, which include laser tattoo removal, laser hair removal, as well as laser procedures that target skin concerns such as pigmented or atrophic acne scars.
But besides this, most dermatologists and laser technicians recommend waiting a couple of months after stopping Accutane before getting laser hair removal done, just to be on the safe side.
Some dermatologists might ask you to wait more based on how strong your Accutane dose was.
For example, some dermatologists might give you the green light if you were taking a low dose of Accutane for a few months, while others might want you to wait a few extra months if you were on a higher dose for a longer period of time.
So, if you’re considering laser hair removal while on Accutane or after you’ve stopped taking it, make sure to point out when you’ve stopped the medication, what was the strength you were prescribed, and how long have you been on it, during your laser hair removal consultation.
How Long Before Accutane Should Your Last Laser Hair Removal Session Be?
Accutane starts working within a week to ten days after you start taking it, which is why it’s advisable to have your last hair removal session before you start taking it.
Your skin likely won’t react if you have had your last hair removal session before starting the medication, but the possibility of an unwanted reaction such as redness, irritation, itching, blistering, and even burns is high if you do this after starting Accutane.
So try to have your last laser hair removal session a week or a few days before starting Accutane.
Can You Wax While On Accutane?
Waxing, much like laser, isn’t a recommended hair removal method while taking Accutane.
Waxing can pull on the skin, and since your skin will be very vulnerable due to taking Accutane, this can be incredibly uncomfortable and irritate the skin and cause some more serious issues such as burns and wounds.
Additionally, avoid waxing smaller areas such as the eyebrows and upper lip while on Accutane, as this can be even worse since the facial skin is even thinner than the skin in other areas of the body.
Surprisingly, I’ve seen many people make this mistake and complain about redness, burning, and even bleeding, so just make sure not to put yourself through unnecessary discomfort.
The best hair removal method while on Accutane is shaving, and you should stick to this while undergoing the medication.
How Long After Accutane Can You Wax?
Again, as with laser hair removal, you should ideally wait until your skin is back to normal before considering any type of hair removal that involves pulling on the skin.
This means that you should wait at least a few months after stopping Accutane before considering waxing, and even then, make sure to test on a smaller area first to see how your skin reacts.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and it’s especially important to take extra care of your skin after going through Accutane.
It’s also important to remember that not everyone’s skin heals at the same pace, so make sure to give your skin ample time to recover before subjecting it to any type of hair removal treatment, whether that’s waxing, laser hair removal, or any other intense treatment that requires some downtime.
My name is Simone and I am a certified skin specialist. I created this website to teach my readers how to take great care of their skin and I also like to occasionally share my honest opinions on skincare products I’ve tried. You can learn more about me here.
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