If you feel your hair starts to grow as soon as you step out of the salon right after a threading or waxing session, we understand your pain. Those with fast or excessive hair growth always wish for a more permanent hair removal method and may have considered opting for laser hair removal at least once in all these years. However, there are a few doubts that stop them from undergoing the treatment. The side effects of laser hair removal is one of the biggest concerns among people wanting to get this treatment. After all, technology can’t always be trusted.
If you have questions like - will it be painful, how many sittings will it require and what is the cost, we have the answers to all your questions. Since this treatment is done by a professional, we decided it’s best to talk to one to understand the side effects of laser hair removal in detail. In this article, Dr. Ameesha Mahajan of RM Aesthetics explains in detail the procedure of laser hair removal along with the side effects. So, if you or anyone close to you is considering undergoing a laser hair removal treatment, here’s everything you need to know.
- Is it a safe procedure?
- Is it painful?
- What are the common side effects of laser hair removal?
- Myths about laser hair removal
Is it a safe procedure?
Laser hair removal is a very safe procedure if done under the supervision of an experienced dermatologist. The quality of the laser and the person behind the laser, are very important, remember, it is your skin in question here. The same laser and technique can have different results if an untrained professional is using it. So make sure you do your research and talk to people who have got it done in the past for finding a trusted laser clinic/doctor to ensure good results. It may be tempting to go for a procedure that isn’t very expensive, but the side effects of laser hair removal can be severe if not performed by a trained professional.
Is it painful?
One of the most common questions people have in their minds when thinking of undergoing laser hair removal is the pain factor. Well, of course, that should be considered, because threading and waxing are quite painful. So will this be more painful than that since it’s offering a permanent solution? According to our expert, pain in the procedure depends on the type of laser and settings used. Earlier laser hair removal machines would have a mild painful sensation similar to that of snapping a rubber band. But as technology progressed, the pain associated kept on reducing and now completely painless lasers are available.
What are the common side effects of laser hair removal?
Within the first-week post laser, dead hair is shed and can cause tiny pimple-like bumps known as folliculitis which is caused by irritation of the skin. If done on very dark complexion or by an untrained person, burns and subsequent scarring are also possible.
1. Redness and irritation
The most common side effect of laser hair removal is immediate redness and some bumps which usually subside within 1-2 hours. These effects are minor and are often similar to what you might notice even after waxing. Overall irritation should disappear within hours of the procedure. Try applying ice packs to help reduce swelling. You should call your doctor if you experience symptoms beyond slight irritation or if the side effects do not settle down or get worse over time.
When a laser procedure is done, the hair is shaved and then the laser is applied. Within the first week post laser, dead hair from within the skin shed off. These hair feel prickly to touch and can cause tiny pimples like bumps known as folliculitis which is caused by irritation of the skin. It will usually subside with the application of an antibiotic cream applied post-laser. If it doesn't, get in touch with your doctor.
3. Changes in skin colour
Another side effect of laser hair removal is a change in skin colour. Some people may notice minor color changes to the treated area of skin. Most commonly, the treated area becomes lighter as the laser also targets the melanin in the skin. But if you expose the skin to sunlight without adequate sun protection post laser, the chances of pigmentation in the treated area is also possible. These changes tend to fade away over time, and the skin returns to normal.
4. Burns and blisters
Although rare, burns and blisters is one of the side effects of laser hair removal. It usually happens if laser hair removal is not done correctly. This is why it is important to note that this treatment should only be done under the supervision of a dermatologist. It is also seen in darker complexions where the melanin of the skin absorbs higher energies of laser, thus causing a blister. It is important to not pick on the blister if it occurs to avoid scarring.
Scars are not a common side effect of laser hair removal. However, if the laser is done very aggressively, then scarring can occur. Because your skin is delicate and sensitive, special care should be taken during the procedure. Scars are usually a burn and are seen as brown spots which usually go with treatment.
6. Eye injury
Yes, you read that right, but don’t be alarmed. Laser hair removal as you know, involves the use of powerful lasers, this means your eyes could be at risk, especially when removing facial hair. It is very important to wear protective eye goggles during the procedure by both the practitioner and client for safety and protection.
Myths about laser hair removal
Every skin treatment, be it natural or in a clinic, is always surrounded by myths. You will always hear people saying that it is bad for your skin or health or it can lead to serious diseases. There are a lot of myths about laser hair removal too, allow us to debunk them for you.
Laser hair removal causes cancer
The laser used in this procedure passes through the skin cell to target only the hair follicles in the layers of the skin. There is no research to prove that laser hair removal can cause cancer. Having said that, a small amount of radiation is produced during the procedure but it's not harmful and no evidence of it linking to cancer has been found yet.
Laser hair removal causes infertility
As mentioned above, the laser only works on the skin; it does not affect any other organ in the body. So, it would be wrong to say that it can cause infertility. Laser hair removal is quite safe, in fact, if you decide to get it done on sensitive areas such as your private parts, it is considered to not be harmful at all.
Home laser removal kits are effective
These days, home laser hair removal kits are also available for those who don’t want to visit a dermatologist. However, the safety and effectiveness of these kits are highly questionable. Many people experience average results from these kits, the hair growth is lighter or finer because they are not as powerful as the ones available at the dermatologist’s clinic.
Written by Sanya Hamdani on May 20, 2021
Sanya Hamdani is a skincare enthusiast and lipstick hoarder, she truly believes no two red lipsticks look exactly alike. With a Master's degree in Communication & Journalism and 5+ years of digital writing experience up her sleeve, Sanya has some of the biggest beauty experts in the country on her speed dial. When she's not swatching products or writing about the latest trends in beauty, you will find her watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. or cooking up a storm in the kitchen.