Side Effects Of Laser Hair Removal You Should Know About

Learn the potential dangers of this treatment if you want to preserve your skin health.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Shruti Chavan, MBBS Dr. Shruti Chavan Dr. Shruti ChavanMBBS
Written by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Experience: 7 years
Edited by , BA, MSc Eshna Das BA, MSc Experience: 3 years
Fact-checked by , MA (Journalism & Mass Communication) Monomita Chakraborty MA (Journalism & Mass Communication) Experience: 4 years

Laser hair removal side effects are numerous. You must know about all these before opting for laser treatment. That ingrown hairi  A strand of hair that grows back into the skin after shaving and waxing, resulting in red, itchy, and raised bumps on the skin. , stubbly arms, and legs may negatively affect your appearance, and waxing, and shaving is the go-to method for many. However, the pain and accidental cuts are unwelcoming though. That is one reason many are opting for permanent hair removal and laser treatments to get rid of unwanted body hair. However, laser treatments often cause scarring and skin irritation.

So, who can opt for it? How safe is it compared to other hair removal methods? What are the potential side effects? Know the answers to these commonly asked queries in this article. Scroll down.

Is Laser Hair Removal Safe?

Woman having a laser hair removal procedure on her leg
Image: Shutterstock

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

Woman experiencing skin redness as a side effect of laser hair removal
Image: Shutterstock

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, folliculitis perifollicular rednessi  Redness or inflammation around the hair follicles due to diseases like alopecia and may cause further hair loss. , 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. Following proper aftercare practices can help minimize some side effects.

protip_icon Quick Tip
You can ice the affected area for 10 minutes at a time up to three times a day. Ensure you wrap the compress in a towel to avoid exposing your skin to the extreme cold.

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. Hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation are common side effects. Though these changes are temporary, talk to your doctor if they appear too severe.

& Prevention Tips”]

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.

Eye Injury

Research indicates that injuries resulting from laser hair removal around the eyes are a leading cause of legal disputes in skin laser treatments. The thin skin and pigment-rich areas around the eyes make them more prone to injury from laser energy absorption. Compared to shorter wavelength lasers, the longer waves cause more damage to the eyes as they can penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin (2). Therefore, both the laser technician and the person undergoing the treatment should wear protective eyeglasses during the procedure.

Herpes Outbreak

Though laser treatment does not directly cause herpes infection, the procedure may trigger an outbreak if you already carry the virus. However, there is no definitive evidence to support this claim.

According to a study on the effects of laser hair removal in groups of various ethnic origins, the number of treatments and the severity of side effects is interrelated. Participants who had more than six treatments observed more side effects as compared to others. Check out the graph below to find the results of the study.

Severity Of Laser Hair Removal Side Effects

Source: Diode Laser 805 Hair Removal Side Effects in Groups of Various Ethnicities – Cohort Study Results

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.

Sindhu, a vlogger, shared her experience about getting painless laser treatment for hair removal done in her personal blog. She said, “The only thing that happened after the 6th session was the hair growth had gotten a little slower but the thickness of the hair and the amount of hair I was getting was almost the same. I did 3 more maintenance sessions and still nothing happened (i).”

  • 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.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Avoid stepping into the sun for one to two weeks to allow your sensitive skin to heal.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends going to only certified dermatologists to get laser hair removal done (3).

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?

Pregnant woman thinking about laser hair removal side effects
Image: Shutterstock

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. For a more comfortable laser hair removal experience, it is common to use numbing cream and cooling gel to help alleviate any discomfort or pain during the treatment process.

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

Woman consulting doctor about laser hair removal side effects
Image: Shutterstock

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 a doctor’s examination.

Infographic: How To Prepare For Laser Hair Removal

If you have decided to go for laser hair removal, you must keep certain things in mind before heading for your first appointment. Maintaining your natural skin barrier and keeping your skin clean and healthy is important throughout these sessions. Check out the infographic below to learn about the best practices before and during laser hair removal.

how to prepare for laser hair removal (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Laser hair removal is a simple approach to getting rid of unwanted hair that gives long-term results. It works for a wide range of consumers, especially those with dark hair and light skin. However, some people may develop moderate laser hair removal side effects such as swelling, redness, skin irritation, and changes in skin pigmentation. This is particularly observed in those with sensitive or dry skin. Consult your healthcare provider if the side effects persist or worsen. Pregnant or breastfeeding women are advised to avoid laser hair removal to prevent any health complications.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can laser hair removal damage ovaries?

No, laser hair removal doesn’t cause any damage to ovaries. This is because the beams of light energy can only reach and target the hair follicles.

Can you bleed after laser hair removal?

No, bleeding doesn’t occur after laser hair removal. However, the treated area may become swollen and red, which can be managed by applying ice.

Does laser hair removal affect the menstrual cycle?

No, the laser does not penetrate further than the skin as it only targets the hair follicles. Hence, there is no scientific evidence that laser hair removal can affect one’s menstrual cycle.

Can laser hair removal damage veins?

Various health specialists claim that laser hair removal may further aggravate the condition of varicose veins. However, further research is warranted in this field.

Can laser hair removal cause acne breakouts or exacerbate existing acne?

As per anecdotal evidence, laser hair removal may benefit acne-prone skin. However, immediately after the treatment, one may notice an increase in inflammation and breakouts.

Key Takeaways

  • Common temporary side effects of laser hair removal include redness, irritation, and swelling. These usually resolve within hours or days.
  • Serious, rare side effects include skin crusting, blisters, eye injury, and paradoxical hair growth. See a doctor if these occur.
  • Multiple laser treatments (over six sessions) tend to increase the likelihood of side effects.
  • Laser hair removal is not recommended during pregnancy due to hormonal changes and unknown risks to the fetus. Wait until after giving birth.
laser hair removal side effects

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Complications of nonphysician-supervised laser hair removal
  2. Ocular Injury in Cosmetic Laser Treatments of the Face
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Dr. Shruti Chavan is a consulting dermatologist at Dr.Sheth's Skin and Hair Clinic since 6 years. She is a co-committee member of CDSI (Cosmetic dermatologist Society of India). She is highly skilled in non-surgical facial skin rejuvenation and face lift by the use of injection treatments and lasers.   Dr. Chavan is well-versed with dermatological and aesthetic procedures. Her full bio

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