Laser hair removal risks are often a concern for people considering the procedure. The vast majority of procedures result in no side effects except a mild “warm” feeling similar to a slight sunburn. Hoever, side effects can be significant and vary depending on a number of individual factors. In this post, we’ll outline some of the major laser hair removal risks and considerations.
Please note that this blog post is not intended to be an exhaustive list of the risks associated with laser hair removal nor should it be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician prior to undergoing any treatment.
Laser Hair Removal Risks
- Severe or prolonged redness or swelling within 2-24 hours of treatment that could last for several weeks.
- Blisters, epidermal erosions, or peri-lesional hyperpigmentation. This may develop and remain for several days to weeks following treatment.
- Irritation, itching, burning sensation or pain similar to a sunburn within 48 hours of treatment.
- Eye damage from reflected or prolonged unprotected exposure to laser light. Protective goggles must be worn during all treatments to prevent eye injury.
Potential Side Effects of Treatment
- Damage to Natural Skin Texture – in some cases, a crust or blister may form. Normal wound care should be followed.
- Discomfort – Some patients describe the sensation as stinging, a rubber band snap, or burning. Most patients describe the Soprano XL laser sensation as mild and very tolerable.
- Change of Skin Pigmentation – Pigmentation changes can occur. Most cases of hypopigmentation (loss of pigment) or hyperpigmentation (increased pigment) occur in people with skin types IV to VI, or when the treated area has been exposed to sunlight within 3 weeks before or after treatment. Some patients develop hyperpigmentation despite avoiding sun exposure. The discoloration usually fades in 3-6 months. In rare cases (mainly hypo-pigmentation), the pigmentation change can be permanent.
- Excessive Swelling – Immediately after treatment, especially on the nose and cheeks, the skin may swell temporarily. Swelling usually subsides within hours but may continue for up to a week.
- Scarring – Scarring is one of the laser hair removal risks. The type of scarring may be enlarged hypertrophic or keloid scars. Be sure to follow all pre- and post-treatment instructions provided by your clinic carefully as this will minimize laser hair removal risks.
- Fragile Skin – The skin at or near the treatment site may become fragile. If this happens, makeup should be avoided and the area should not be rubbed.
- Bruising – Purpura (bruising) may appear on the treated area and may last from a few hours to several days.
Contraindications are reasons that you may not be eligible for laser hair removal. Among them are:
- Cancer (in particular, skin cancer)
- Pregnancy (including IVF)
- Diseases that may be stimulated by light
- Active infection of herpes simplex in the treatment area
- Use of photosensitive medication or herbs that are contraindicated
- Prolonged exposure to the sun or artificial tanning during the 3-4 weeks prior to treatment and 3-4 weeks post treatment on the treatment area.
- History of keloid scarring
- Fragile and dry skin
- Use of anticoagulants or history of coagulopathies
- Hormone disorders that are stimulated under intense light
Mitigating Laser Hair Removal Risks
Many of the laser hair removal risks can be greatly reduced or eliminated by adhering to the pre- and post-care instructions partially described here and given by your laser hair removal provider.
Further, laser hair removal risks are minimal when you choose a clinic with experienced laser technicians. Using settings that are too aggressive for your individual skin type will put you at undue risk. Individuals with fair skin and dark, coarse hair respond best to laser hair removal treatments and are at the lowest risk of experiencing any side effects. At Bare Tattoo & Hair Removal, our laser technicians work under the supervision of our medical director, have gone through extensive training, and thoroughly understand our advanced laser technology. Be sure to ASK QUESTIONS OF YOUR LASER TECHNICIAN TO BE CONFIDENT WITH YOUR BODY IN THEIR CARE!