Laser hair removal has become a popular solution for achieving smooth, hair-free skin. This safe procedure for getting rid of unwanted hair is performed by trained professionals, and uses advanced technology to stop hair follicles from growing new hair.
While laser treatment is generally considered safe and provides long-lasting results, some people have concerns about its possible side effects.
In this article, we will explain the negative effects of laser hair removal, address common misconceptions, and help you make an informed decision about this permanent hair reduction method.
Minor Side Effects: Understanding Temporary Reactions
Laser hair removal employs high-heat lasers to target hair follicles, which can lead to temporary side effects. It’s important to note that these reactions are usually minor and similar to those experienced with other hair removal methods, such as waxing.
Redness and Irritation:
Following laser hair removal, it is common to experience temporary irritation and mild redness in the treated area. This typically subsides within a few hours. To minimize discomfort, dermatologists may apply a topical anesthetic before the procedure. If irritation persists or worsens, it is advisable to consult your doctor.
Another temporary side effect is slight darkening or lightening of the skin in the treated area. Individuals with lighter skin may notice darker spots, while those with darker skin may observe lighter areas. Rest assured, these changes are usually temporary and pose no cause for concern.
Rare Severe Side Effects: Understanding Uncommon Reactions
While rare, there are potentially severe side effects associated with laser hair removal. It’s important to be aware of these risks, especially when using at-home laser kits or seeking treatment from untrained providers.
Excessive Hair Growth in the Treated Area:
In some cases, laser hair removal may lead to excessive hair growth in the treated area.
This uncommon, unwanted side effect is called paradoxical hypertrichosis and is estimated to occur in 3% of those undergoing laser hair removal.
This can sometimes be mistaken for hair shedding post-treatment. If you notice unexpected hair growth, it is advisable to consult your doctor for further evaluation.
Changes to Overall Skin Texture:
Occasionally, laser hair removal can cause changes in the texture of the skin, particularly if you have recently tanned. Those who are prone to scarring may be at a higher risk. If you experience noticeable changes in skin texture, it is essential to seek professional advice.
Blisters and Skin Crusting:
Exposing the treated area to sunlight too soon after laser hair removal can result in blisters and skin crusting. Following post-treatment care instructions provided by your dermatologist and avoiding excessive sun exposure is crucial.
Can Laser Hair Removal Cause Skin Cancer ?
Rest assured, laser hair removal does not cause cancer. The lasers used in this procedure emit minimal radiation, specifically targeted at the hair follicles.
The wavelengths used are different from the harmful UV wavelengths that are known to damage DNA and contribute to skin cancer.
In fact, the Skin Cancer Foundation not only supports the safety of laser hair removal in regard to cancer risk but states that laser therapy is used to treat precancerous lesions, thus reducing the risk of developing skin cancer.
Can Laser Hair Removal Cause Breast Cancer?
Similar to the previous myth, laser hair removal does not increase the risk of breast cancer.
Laser and IPL systems all utilize non-ionizing radiation; this type of energy does not affect the DNA strands. It is this breakdown of DNA which may lead, in the long term, to cancer.
Moreover, the lasers cannot penetrate deep enough to harm breast tissue.
Can Laser Hair Removal Be Used During Pregnancy?
Laser hair removal is generally not recommended during pregnancy. Although no human studies have specifically addressed the safety of laser hair treatments during pregnancy, it is advisable to wait until after delivery.
Excessive hair growth during pregnancy is typically temporary and often resolves on its own postpartum.
Can Laser Hair Removal Cause Infertility?
No evidence suggests that laser hair removal causes infertility. The procedure only affects the surface of the skin and does not reach reproductive organs. However, if you are actively trying to conceive, it is always wise to discuss potential risks with your doctor.
Laser hair removal is a generally safe and effective method for long-lasting hair reduction. While temporary minor side effects may occur, severe reactions are rare.
It is important to consult a qualified dermatologist or healthcare professional for laser hair removal treatments to minimize any potential risks.
Debunking common myths, laser hair removal has not been found to cause cancer, including breast cancer, or impact fertility. By understanding the facts, you can confidently make decisions about laser hair removal to achieve the smooth, hair-free results you desire.
Dr. Lian Peter, MD, MPH, CCFP, is a Family physician with a passion for aesthetics. In her aesthetic clinic, she provides a wide range of minimally invasive and non-invasive procedures, constantly honing her skills to deliver exceptional care and help patients attain their desired appearance.