With summer in full swing and swimsuits donned, I reached out to Jamra Soares, RN, MS who has 16 years of experience in laser hair reduction and removal. She knows her stuff!
Tell me about yourself, how did you get into laser hair reduction?
I began my career with a Master’s in psychiatric nursing. After working in that area for 25 years, I wanted a change so I became a masseuse for a while, until I decided on laser as a next step. My years as a psychiatric nurse really honed my communication skill which has proven to be priceless at the laser center. Since we’re together for long periods of time, my patients and I are able to have wonderful conversations. That is the best part of my job and I love it.
How does your experience as a registered nurse help you in your work?
To perform laser in California you must be a licensed medical professional, such as a registered nurse, nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant or doctor. In other states, other people can do laser hair removal, but in California, you must be a nurse or a licensed professional.
Tell me about the laser equipment you use.
We use the LightSheer Diode Laser, however, I have used several types of lasers, and the diode is my favorite. It’s reliable and gives really good results. It’s easy to maneuver and not cumbersome like some others.
Do you call it laser hair removal or reduction?
The FDA says it’s not permanent removal, so we have to refer to it as reduction. We have dormant hair follicles that can start growing hair at any time.
What are some of the reasons your patients give for starting laser treatments?
- When women become pregnant they tend to grow more hair, especially on their legs–not everybody, but some will.
- Certain drugs will make people grow more hair.
- People go through different stages in life.
- Women often grow hair on their chin. Facial hair is hardest to get rid of because it comes back again, for some, so you have to treat it often.
- Some women get a shaving shadow where their hair continues to grow through the day, and they find it embarrassing. With laser you don’t have that.
“The difference between shaving and laser is that laser makes our daily routine shorter, giving us more time to have fun.“
Can a woman get laser while pregnant?
Women who are pregnant are not lasered.
What happens if a woman has regrowth or starts to grow new hair while pregnant?
Postpartum, she will need to come in for laser treatments.
In a previous blog posts, I discussed hyperpigmentation. When might someone need to worry about skin discoloration?
There are various lasers available which can treat different Fitzpatrick colors. There’s the Alexandrite which is safer for treating darker skin. Since I use the diode, I can treat a Fitzpatrick 3 and possibly a 4.
Hyperpigmentation results due to a number of reasons:
- Burns happen when the settings (joules) are higher than what the skin can tolerate.
- When someone is lasered and then they go out into the sun and get a tan.
- If they have a fresh tan and they come in for laser, it’s easy to burn.
- They don’t use sunscreen properly and the tan becomes blotchy, resulting in hyperpigmentation.
“Rule of thumb: No sun two weeks before and two weeks after.”
My clients complain about laser when they still have hair growth even after completing a package. How many treatments would you recommend for best results?
“As many as it takes” is my answer because it depends on ethnicity and skin type. Some could take just 4-5 treatments and they would be done. The person needs to ask themselves, “how much am I willing to shave?” Do they want every single hair gone or are they okay with shaving a little bit? It’s an individual decision for them. Sometimes people come in for treatment and I think they hardly have any hair but they want it all gone.
How should someone prepare for a laser hair reduction treatment?
The entire area would need to be treated, otherwise random hairs can be treated. Are we missing hair? We probably are. There are going to be hairs under the surface of the skin that will not get treated. Now, if they have an entire region with sparse hair, I’m going to have to laser the whole area. If it’s just a random hair we can just hit those hairs.
Tell me why some hairs are missed during an appointment.
The nozzle length dictates how much surface area can be treated at one time. We can’t do a whole treatment twice in an area, it’s too risky and would definitely burn a person. Our nozzle, in particular, has a little metal casing around the edges. So, I can overlap the edges to make sure every square inch gets covered. However, if I go over a section and I see one hair sticking up, I can go back and do one click in that area if the skin is not too dark. If the skin has a lot of melanin (pigment), that hair just gets missed.
What does the procedure feel like? Is it painful?
It feels like a hot snapping rubber band. Everyone experiences pain differently, some people say that it’s not so bad while others jump around like a jumping jack. It really depends on a person’s pain tolerance. The numbing cream we offer doesn’t block pain completely, but it does take away the sharpness, making it more tolerable.
Something to be aware of is when a woman is a week before her menses she experiences pain more. Women are like delicate flowers during the PMS time, we’re more emotional, more sensitive and we experience more pain. So, I try and tell people to avoid it during that time.
One more thing! Avoid caffeine before an appointment because it is a central nervous system stimulant and it makes everything more sensitive. Different sources have different opinions about caffeine, but in my experience when they say, “it hurts more today!” And then I go through my list and sure enough, often, they’ve had caffeine right before they came in.
What is the recommended post care?
- No sun for two weeks! Use SPF and wear a hat or cover up with long pants for those two weeks.
- It takes up to two weeks for the hair to fall out—so, no tweezing, threading or waxing.
- If needed, feel free to shave.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Hair grows in 3 cycles; anagen, catagen and telogen. It’s essential to treat every cycle of hair growth.
Hair grows fastest on the face and neck, so the optimal laser schedule for that area would be 4-6 weeks apart. On the body, they could schedule every 6-8 weeks. Sometimes people will wait until all their hair comes back, 3-4 months, which delays the process and gives varying results.
“For best results go on a regular basis—life happens, but consistency pays off.”
You work in another doctor’s office, what other treatments do you do there?
We perform treatments for tattoos, hair, IPL, Photofacial (same thing), sun damage, vascular problems, and spider veins.
I want to thank Nurse Jamra for all of the insight she shared. I feel like my future laser treatment will go smoothly with all of the knowledge gleaned from this interview!
About the Practice
The interview took place at Premier Wellness & Aesthetic Center, in San Francisco. The practice is overseen by Dr. Harlan South, MD.
When you walk in, you’re greeted by the friendliest receptionist named Keithen. After that, you must take in the scenery around you. The lobby is in the penthouse of the building and there is a terrace overlooking the city. However, that is secondary to the delightful Parrots of Telegraph Hill who perch on the ledge and snack on bird seed provided by the staff. It’s spectacular.
UPDATE: Nurse Jamra retired, and her replacement is Neyla at 490 Post Street, Suite 1701 SF, CA 94102 Tel: 415-956-0111