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Laser Hair Removal Side Effects And What To Know

Posted by Nima | July 6, 2022

Laser hair removal is a medical treatment in which a concentrated beam of light (laser) is used to remove unwanted hair. But are there laser hair removal side effects?

A laser produces a light that is absorbed by the pigment (melanin) in the hair during laser hair removal. Heat is generated as a result of the light energy, which kills off the tube-shaped sacs (hair follicles) in the skin that produce hair. This damage inhibits or delays future hair development.

Hair removal with a laser is typically ineffective for long periods of time, although it does frequently postpone hair growth. Laser hair removal treatments are required for the initial time, and maintenance sessions might be required as well. Laser hair removal is most effective for those with light skin and dark hair, but it can be used on all skin types.

Why it’s done

Hair removal with a laser is intended to reduce unwanted hair. Treatment areas include the legs, armpits, top lip, chin, and bikini line. However, almost every region of the body, with the exception of the eyelid and immediate surroundings, may be treated.

The condition of your hair and the color of your skin may affect whether or not laser hair removal works for you. The basic idea is that the pigment in hair, but not skin, should absorb light. The laser should only damage the hair follicle while avoiding harm to the skin. As a result, comparing dark hair and pale skin — which creates the greatest outcomes — is an effective contrast.

When there is little contrast between hair and skin color, the risk of harm to skin is greater, but laser technology has improved such that laser hair removal can be done for those with darker skin. Gray, red, blond, and white hair are less responsive to laser treatment. On the other hand, laser treatment possibilities for light-colored hair continue to be developed.

Laser hair removal side effects

The incidence of adverse effects varies depending on skin type, hair color, treatment strategy, and compliance to pre- and post-treatment care. The following are the most frequent side effects of laser hair removal:

  • Skin irritation. Temporary discomfort, redness and swelling are possible after laser hair removal. Any signs and symptoms typically disappear within several hours.
  • Pigment changes. Laser hair removal might darken or lighten the affected skin. These changes might be temporary or permanent. Skin lightening primarily affects those who don’t avoid sun exposure before or after treatment and those who have darker skin.

Occasionally, laser hair removal can cause blisters, scabs, scars, or other changes in the skin’s texture. Other uncommon side effects include grayed-out hair or excessive hair growth in treated regions, particularly on darker skin.

Eyelids, brows, and surrounding areas are not ideal for laser hair removal due to the risk of significant eye damage.

How you prepare

Choose a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon who is board certified in a specialty like dermatology or surgery and has experience with laser hair removal on your skin type if you want to undergo laser hair removal.

Schedule a consultation with the doctor to see if laser hair removal is an appropriate treatment choice for you. The following are things your doctor will most likely do:

  • Examine your medical history, including any medications you’ve taken and any skin problems or scarring you may have had in the past
  • Take a look at the potential benefits, drawbacks, and expectations associated with laser hair removal
  • Take photos for before-and-after assessments and long-term evaluations

At the consultation, talk about a treatment strategy and any associated expenses. Laser hair removal is frequently an out-of-pocket expense.

The physician will also provide specific instructions to help you get ready for laser hair removal. These could include:

  • Staying out of the sun. Follow your doctor’s instructions for avoiding sun exposure before and after therapy. Apply a broad-spectrum, SPF30 sunscreen every time you go out.
  • Lightening your skin. Sunless skin creams that make your skin darker should be avoided. If you have a recent tan or darker skin, your doctor may prescribe a bleaching cream.
  • Avoiding other hair removal methods. Pre-laser treatment, plucking, waxing, and electrolysis should all be avoided at least four weeks before undergoing therapy.
  • Avoiding blood-thinning medications. Before you have the surgery, talk to your physician about any medications, such as aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs, that you should avoid.
  • Shaving treatment area. Shave and trim the day before laser treatment. It removes hair above the skin that can cause surface skin damage due to burnt hairs, but it leaves the hair shaft intact below the surface.

What you can expect at your laser hair removal procedure

Two to six treatments are required for laser hair removal. The time between applications varies depending on the site. The treatment can be repeated in four to eight weeks where hair grows fast, such as the upper lip. Hair growth is slow on parts of the body, such as the back, so repeat treatments might be every 12 to 16 weeks.

Every treatment session will require you to put on special goggles to protect your eyes from the laser beam. If required, the site may be shaved again by an assistant. To decrease any discomfort during therapy, the doctor might give you a topical analgesic on your skin.

During the procedure

The doctor will use a hand-held laser instrument to press against your skin. A cooling device on the instrument’s tip or a cool gel might be utilized to protect your skin and minimize potential side effects.

The laser beam will pass through your skin to the hair follicles when the doctor activates the laser. The laser beam’s high heat destroys the hair follicles, which prevents hair development. You may feel a warm prick and experience a chilly breeze from the cooling equipment or gel.

A tiny region, such as the upper lip, might be treated in a matter of minutes. A larger region, such as the back, may need to be treated for more than an hour.

After the laser hair removal procedure

The area around the laser treatment site may become slightly red, warm, and painful for a few hours after laser hair removal.

Ice can also help to reduce any discomfort. If you have a skin reaction after laser hair removal, the doctor may use a corticosteroid ointment on the afflicted region.

Avoid the sun for six weeks after laser hair removal and refrain from using a tanning bed as directed by your doctor until then. Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day.

If you’d like to learn more about laser hair removal, be sure to read our other blogs.


The shedding of your hair does not happen immediately, but it will take place over days to weeks. This may be mistaken for new hair growth. Repeated applications are usually required because hair development and loss occur in a cycle, and laser treatment works best on hair follicles in the early-growth stage.

Hair removal is a tough case to make. The outcomes are unpredictable and varied. Hair removal usually persists for months or years, but laser hair reduction does not assure permanent hair elimination. Hair that has grown back is generally finer and lighter in color than it was before.

For long-term hair reduction, you might need laser therapy for maintenance.

Final Thoughts

Overall, laser hair removal side effects are mild and temporary. But as with any treatments, there are risks involved. Be sure to consult with a board-certified dermatologist to see if laser hair removal is right for you.

You can also checkout NIMA and see the laser hair removal treatments they offer for you.