Side Effects Of Laser Hair Removal You Should Be Aware Of

Medically Reviewed By Dr. Shruti Chavan, MBBS Dermatologist
Written by Arshiya Syeda

Imagine never having to worry about your arms and legs getting stubbly. You would never have to fret about the bumpy ingrown hair or the painful waxing experience you had the other day. More importantly, no more razor cuts! Sounds like a dream? Well, laser hair removal can turn this dream into reality.

But wait! Before you bid adieu to your razors and waxing kit, you must be aware of the potential risks and side effects of laser hair removal. Laser hair removal may irritate your skin and cause pigmentation and scarring. In this article, we have discussed the side effects of laser hair removal and certain associated myths. Take a look.

Is Laser Hair Removal Safe?

Many find laser hair removal safe and effective. It seems to have no long-term health risks. However, certain individuals may experience minor, temporary side effects post the treatment process. It is advised you speak to your dermatologist and get a patch test done prior to the treatment.

Laser hair removal helps remove unwanted hair without damaging the skin. This process is usually fast (depending on the area being treated). However, some people may experience a few side effects.

Risks Associated With Laser Hair Removal

You may experience minor side effects after the laser hair removal process. Most of these are temporary. However, consult your dermatologist if these effects aggravate.

Skin Redness And Irritation

Skin redness and irritation are the common side effects of laser hair removal. They are more likely if you are getting hair removed from a sensitive area of your body. The skin may feel tender and you might notice redness, irritation, perifollicular redness, and edema (swelling).

These effects are similar to what you notice after waxing or other hair removal procedures. The irritation usually subsides within an hour of the procedure. You can apply an ice pack to accelerate recovery.

Change In Skin Pigments

You may also notice pigmentary changes after the procedure (1). While those with a lighter skin tone may notice dark spots on their skin, those with a darker complexion may notice lighter spots. Though these changes are temporary, talk to your doctor if they appear too severe.

Skin Crusting

Some people may experience the skin in the affected area crusting (due to superficial burns). Though minor, this issue may also cause scarring or scabbing. Crusting often happens if the skin is dry and tip of the laser probe is not cold enough to prevent superficial burns. Applying a moisturizer to the affected area may help prevent this issue.

As discussed, these side effects are usually minor and temporary. In rare cases, one may also experience certain serious side effects. We will explore them in the following section.

Rare Side Effects Of Laser Hair Removal

  • Change in skin pigmentation: This can happen if you got tanned recently.
  • Paradoxical hair growth: This is extremely rare. However, some people may experience paradoxical hair growth in the treated and surrounding area.
  • Blisters: You might experience blisters if you expose your skin to the sun too soon after the procedure. You also may observe blisters if the laser hair removal is not done properly.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends going to only certified dermatologists to get the laser hair removal done (2).

One must remember that laser hair removal does not remove hair permanently. It reduces the hair growth. With each session, the hair becomes thinner, the density decreases and the hair cycle increases. Initially, you will need to undergo multiple sessions to remove hair completely, as not all hairs could be in the active growth phase. Later, you may go for maintenance treatments to target stubborn areas or get rid of strays or regrown hair.

Laser hair removal during pregnancy is not safe. One should wait for several weeks after giving birth. Find out more in the next section.

Can You Go For Laser Hair Removal While Pregnant?

Experts do not recommend laser hair removal during pregnancy. No scientific evidence exists proving the safety of laser hair removal during this period.

Pregnancy causes many hormonal changes, leading to the growth of extra hair in unwanted places. While this hair growth can be embarrassing, it usually subsides on its own. If it does not, you may try laser treatment post pregnancy. Consult your doctor and discuss the procedure.

While most of us are skeptical about cosmetic procedures, not all of us are aware of the more popular myths. In the next section, we have tried to bust a few myths associated with laser hair removal.

Myths Associated With Laser Hair Removal

Myth 1: Laser hair removal increases hair growth and makes it dense.

Fact: Hair growth depends on the number of hair follicles. Laser treatment helps reduce hair growth rate, hair density, and hair thickness with each session. This lightens the hair growth eventually. Laser treatment is not a permanent solution. Your hair will eventually grow back, but the process will be delayed. The hair that grows back is not dense. If not done properly, it may also cause paradoxical hair growth, a condition where the hair grows back thicker after laser.

Myth 2: Laser hair removal treatment can cause cancer.

Fact: Scientific evidence is lacking in this aspect. The laser used for hair removal does produce some amount of radiation, though it was not found to be seriously harmful. The lasers used in this process only target the hair follicles with a minimal amount of radiation.

Myth 3: You need just one session to permanently remove your hair.

Fact: Laser hair reduction is not a permanent solution. The number of sessions required depends on your hair type, texture, density, the area to be treated, and other genetic factors.

Myth 4: Laser hair removal treatment is painful.

Fact: You will only feel a pinprick-like sensation on your skin, which may cause a little discomfort. It is less painful than waxing.

Myth 5: Laser hair removal causes infertility.

Fact: There is no scientific evidence to prove this claim. The lasers used in this treatment only remove hair and do not penetrate the skin or affect any other organs in the body.

When To See A Doctor

People experiencing adverse effects after a laser hair removal treatment should consider consulting their doctor. While minor side effects such as redness and swelling can be treated at home, more severe issues like skin infections warrant doctor examination.

Conclusion

Laser hair removal is a safe way to deal with unwanted hair. It is effective in many people. However, some individuals (with sensitive, dry, and dark skin) may experience minor side effects like redness, irritation, changes in skin pigment, and swelling. Should the side effects persist, consult a doctor. More importantly, refrain from the treatment during pregnancy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can laser hair removal trigger acne?

Yes, it can if you have acne-prone skin and have existing lesions.

Does the hair fall out right away after treatment?

The treated hairs fall in next 5-10 days after treatment. These are weaker and laser burnt hairs and then new hair growth starts. Usually, hair growth starts after minimum 3 weeks. If you try and pluck the hair from the treated area, it comes out easily without any pain or discomfort.

Sources

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Arshiya Syeda is an editor and certified counselor. Ever the lover of the written word, she served on the editorial boards of her school and college newsletters. Writing articles on hairstyles, hair care, and nutrition helped her combine her love for reading, writing, and research. As an editor, she helps her team members deliver polished and meticulously researched content. Arshiya is fluent in English, Urdu, and Hindi and aims to become a multilinguist by learning German and teaching herself American Sign Language (ASL).