Is Laser Hair Removal Safe? Myths & Side Effects

For most people, laser hair removal is safe. The procedure also isn’t linked to any long-term side effects.

Here’s How the Laser Hair Removal Procedure Works

The laser light is directed at the area being treated and gets absorbed by the pigment in the hair itself, which sits in the hair follicle. The heat is generated down the hair follicle, it will destroy the hair growth center in the follicle and should not create new hair.

What are the Risks of Laser Hair Removal?

Laser hair removal doesn’t guarantee permanent hair removal because some hair could be resistant to the laser treatment, however new hair growth may be finer and lighter in color. A less intensive laser should be used to darker skin to avoid damaging the outer skin. Anyone who had tanning in the sun, tanning bed or spray tan until the tan has faded, the pigment in the skin absorbs the laser light and reduce the effectiveness of the treatment.

Does Laser Hair Removal Cause Cancer?

Laser Hair Removal doesn’t cause cancer, in fact, according to the Skin Care Foundation, the procedure is sometimes used to treat certain forms of precancerous lesions. Different lasers are used to treat sun damage and wrinkles. The lasers used in hair removal or other skin procedures have such a minimal amount of radiation. Plus, the minimal amount is only being exacted on the surface of the skin. So, they don’t pose a risk of cancer.

Does Laser Hair Removal Cause Infertility?

There’s no evidence that laser hair removal affects your chances of becoming pregnant. Only the Skin surface is affected by the laser as minimal radiation from the procedure can’t penetrate any of the organs.  If you’re trying to get pregnant, check with your doctor before beginning laser hair removal treatments. Treatments are spaced out over a period of up to nine months. It’s possible you could undergo treatment before you realize you are pregnant, exposing you to the risks associated with the procedure, including:

  • Skin irritation
  • Changes to your skin’s color
  • Blistering
  • Scarring
  • Excessive hair regrowth, in rare cases

Can Laser Hair Removal be Done During Pregnancy?

This procedure isn’t recommended during pregnancy. This is primarily due to the fact that no human studies have proved the safety of laser hair treatments during pregnancy. If you are pregnant and looking at laser hair removal, consider waiting and consult with your doctor. You may want laser hair treatments for excessive hair that has grown during your pregnancy. Common areas of increased hair growth include the breasts and stomach. However, in most cases, these hairs fall out on their own, so you may not need any medical treatments if you wait until after your pregnancy has ended.

Is There A Risk of  Skin Infections?

As with any procedure, there is certain risk. There are skin infection risks, laser hair removal damages the follicles of the targeted hairs. Some people may experience skin crusting, skin irritation, change in skin color, and in rare cases blistering or scarring.

What are the Side Effects?

The most noticeable effect after laser hair removal is feeling your skin as if it were sunburned. To relieve the sensation, it is a good idea to use cold compresses or cold gels. If there are blisters, swelling, scarring or color changes, consult a doctor. Minor side effects are common, and may include:

  • Changes in the color of the skin, particularly in people with dark skin, which are usually temporary
  • Skin redness
  • Blistering or crusting of the skin

Rarely, laser hair removal can lead to more severe side effects. Your risk increases if you use at-home laser kits or if you seek treatment from a provider who isn’t trained and certified. Rare side effects of laser hair removal include:

  • Excessive hair growth in the area of treatment: Sometimes this effect is mistaken for hair shedding after the procedure.
  • Changes to overall skin texture: You may be at an increased risk if you have tanned recently.
  • Scarring: This is most common in people who tend to scar easily.
  • Blisters and skin crusting: These effects may be caused by sun exposure too soon after the procedure.

Precautions for Laser Hair Removal

Is laser hair removal safe? It is when you follow all the precautions. Make sure you wear eye protection during your laser hair removal treatments to prevent injury to eyes. The biggest risk is to the provider who performs the procedures. They are exposed to dust particles that are very small can potentially irritate the airways over time and continue exposure. Practitioners that perform laser hair removal should wear a surgical mask. Discuss any side effects with your doctor and determine if laser hair removal is for you.

Prep Like a Pro

Make sure you receive instructions before you have your treatment. Following instructions improves the effectiveness of the procedure and reduces the risk of side effects. Here are some common recommendations:

  • Stay out of the sun for a few days before the procedure. Laser hair removal shouldn’t be performed on tanned skin.
  • Do not wax or pluck.
  • Try not to take anti-inflammatory drugs that may increase bleeding, such as aspirin.
  • If you have an active infection, such as a cold sore or bacterial skin infection, the procedure should not be performed.

It Doesn’t Work On Everyone

If your hair is blond, red or grey laser will not work on these hair types.  The lighter the hair the more difficult it is for the laser to target, the laser will work on brown and black hairs only. Always consult with a medical practitioner and determine if Laser Hair Removal is the best hair removal treatment for you

Find the Right Provider

You can take all the safety precautions, however, if you do not use the right provider you risk infections or worst.  Work with a licensed medical provider who is trained and has experience in laser hair removal. Ask some important questions:

  • Ask whether the facility is owned by a medical doctor and whether he or she is immediately available during procedures.
  • Ask who will actually perform the procedure. What licensing and training does the operator have? How many times has the operator performed laser hair removal? Has he or she done it on the part of the body that you want treated?
  •  Ask whether laser treatment is appropriate for your skin type, hair color, complexion, and body area.
  • Make sure you share any medical conditions like diabetes as the skin will heal slowly.