The idea of permanent hair removal is quite tempting. Isn’t it? Well, laser hair removal may seem like a blessing to you, especially if you tend to get ingrown hair or uneven skin tone as a result of other hair removal methods.
While laser hair removal treatment is mostly considered to be safe, there might be side effects linked to it. So, before you decide to spend a fortune, know more about the possible downsides of this procedure too.
In this article, we bring out the truths and break the myths about laser hair removal and tell you what you should consider before going for it.
- Is Laser Hair Removal Permanent?
- Possible Side Effects Of Laser Hair Removal
- How Long Does It Take For Hair To Grow Back After Laser Treatment?
- Myths Associated With Laser Hair Removal
- When To See A Doctor?
Is Laser Hair Removal Permanent?
Even though laser treatment is termed as a ‘permanent’ hair removal procedure, that might not be the case. In laser treatment, a specialised beam of radiation is targeted to a particular area on your skin. The laser produces heat which either damages or destroys the hair follicles. A hair follicle is a sac-like structure from which the hair shaft grows out.
Usually after the first treatment, all the hair follicles are not destroyed. But because most of the hair follicles are damaged, you do not get any hair growth for a prolonged period of time. Also the new hair that grows out is usually finer and lighter in colour . Some of you might require multiple laser treatment sessions to get satisfactory results. Your hair is likely to grow lighter and thinner with every treatment session.
Also, you might need maintenance sessions later to keep the desired area hair-free.
Possible Side Effects Of Laser Hair Removal
Laser treatment is generally considered to be a safe procedure if performed under the supervision of a dermatologist. This treatment is well tolerated by most people but some may experience adverse reactions post treatment. Consider getting a patch test done by your doctor before going for the full treatment.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association the most common side effects of laser treatment are:
3. Some amount of swelling 
These symptoms usually disappear by themselves within a short span of time. Your dermatologist will prescribe a topical ointment to apply on the treated area if deemed necessary.
Other less common adverse effects of laser treatment include:
1. Changes In Skin Colour Of The Treated Area
The treated area of your skin may become a shade darker or lighter than the rest of your body, but it is usually temporary. In very rare cases, the discoloration of the skin treated with laser may become permanent.
2. Crusting Or Scarring
In some people laser treatment may cause hardening of the treated area which may lead to a scab or a scar. Taking good care of the treated skin as per your doctor’s recommendations will speed up the healing process. A mild moisturiser can be used to relieve irritation.
3. Skin Infections
Since the hair follicles and its surrounding cells may be damaged during the laser treatment, the area of the skin is like a wound. Thus the laser treated area may get infection if proper care is not taken during the healing period . If you see any signs of infection such as eruptions or fluid oozing from the treated area, consult your doctor immediately to avoid further complications.
4. Burns Or Blisters
Laser therapy involves usage of equipments that can produce considerable amounts of heat. Excessive heat can cause burns on your skin, if not handled properly. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you get the laser therapy done by a qualified medical professional only.
Also, avoid exposing your laser treated skin to direct sun until it is healed completely. This will help you avoid sun damage or blisters on the treated skin.
4. Eye Injury
The strong laser beam used for hair removal is capable of causing injury to the eye, especially while being used on the face. Appropriate eye protection gear should be used to avoid any adverse effects of laser on the eye.
How Long Does It Take For Hair To Grow Back After Laser Treatment?
Hair regrowth after laser treatment may be seen anywhere between a few months to even a few years in certain cases. Initially hair regrowth may be seen in 4 to 6 weeks of the laser therapy. But after a consistent treatment of 4 to 6 sessions, you may need a touch up every 6 months or a year to remain stubble free.
Also, how fast your hair grows back depends on a number of factors such as the following:
1. Area of Hair Removal Treatment
Laser hair removal is more effective in certain areas of your body than others. Hair on your face such as the upper lip, chin, sideburns or neck grow back faster than your body hair such as those on your back, arms and legs. The rate of regrowth post treatment varies from person to person but the new hair is usually sparse and finier, making it less apparent.
In very rare cases, some people develop a condition called paradoxical hypertrichosis. Individuals with this condition tend to develop darker and thicker hair in areas surrounding the laser treated skin.
2. Skin And Hair Colour
Laser hair removal is typically most effective if you have a light skin tone with dark hair. The melanin in the hair absorbs the laser better and gives better results. If you have grey, white or blonde hair, laser hair removal will not be much effective for you. However, the current advances in laser technology has made it possible to make laser hair removal available for people of all skin and hair color.
3. Phase Of Hair Growth
The hair on your body are at different stages of growth at any given point of time:
- Anagen- growing phase
- Catagen- transitional phase
- Telogen- resting phase
- Exogen- shedding phase
Laser treatment can target only the hair in the anagen or growing phase which are present within the follicle under the surface of your skin. Therefore, you might require multiple sessions of the treatment spanned over an appropriate period of time to get rid of all the hair in a particular area.
Myths Associated With Laser Hair Removal
Myth 1: Laser Therapy Causes Infertility
The laser beam used for hair removal works only at the surface of your skin. It does not reach your internal organs. Thus, there are almost no chances of laser treatment affecting your fertility. However, the effects of laser treatment on pregnant and nursing mothers are unknown. Therefore it is best to avoid laser treatments during pregnancy or while you are planning to conceive.
Also, you experience some hormonal changes post birth which can affect your hair growth pattern. So it makes sense to plan laser hair removal after you have given birth and are done with breastfeeding.
Myth 2: Laser Hair Removal Can Cause Cancer
The type of laser radiation used for hair removal is usually completely safe and does not penetrate too deep into your skin surface. Laser beams used for hair removal do not contain the high energy UV radiations. The high energy radiations are the ones that can damage your DNA leading to cancer.
No direct association of laser hair removal treatments with cancers have been found. If done under proper medical supervision laser therapy for hair removal does not elevate the chances of cancer. 
Myth 3: Laser Hair Removal Is A Very Painful Procedure
The level of discomfort felt during laser therapy varies from person to person. Some people may feel a pin-prick like sensation or a little heat. But lasers today come with cooling fans which reduce the heat sensation. Your dermatologist may also use a cooling gel or an anesthetic ointment right before the procedure to minimise the discomfort.
Laser hair removal is definitely less painful than other methods like waxing. If done under a certified professional, it is safer and quicker without any risks of cuts or wounds. The first session may be a little painful for you, but it gets better with more sessions.
Myth 4: It Causes Hair To Grow More Dense And Frequent
The hair that grows back in the area treated with laser, is actually thinner and finer. Laser damages or destroys the hair follicles from which the hair grows. So an effective laser hair removal therapy can not result in a more dense regrowth in the treated area. Actually there should be a reduction of about 10 to 25% reduction in hair growth after each session of laser therapy.
Myth 5: You Will Get Permanent Hair Removal In A Single Session
Laser therapy can only destroy hair that’s in the growing phase, and not the ones lying dormant within the follicle. Within a few days of the therapy the dormant hair will start growing actively. So a minimum of 4 to 6 sessions, spaced over a few weeks, are required to destroy all the hair in the targeted area. However, the number of sessions required by you will depend on a number of factors like your hair type, rate of regrowth and so on.
When To See A Doctor?
Laser therapy involves the usage of advanced equipment for letting you achieve the desired results of hair removal. It is best to consult a doctor at all stages of this procedure.
Post therapy, you should immediately see your dermatologist in case you develop fever, rashes or other symptoms of a systemic infection which is very rare. Do not use antibiotic creams or ointments without consulting your doctor if you doubt a bacterial or fungal infection.
Laser therapy may be one of the best ways to get rid of the unwanted hair on your body. But you should understand the pros and cons of this treatment and if it is suitable for you or can give you the desired results. Your dermatologist is the best person to decide the most effective laser treatment for you and also to design the treatment regime. Learn about the side effects of laser therapy well in advance to make an informed decision. Remember that your skin and hair is unique, so are its reactions and requirements.
Begin By Knowing Your Skin
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Rarely, laser hair removal can cause blistering, crusting, scarring or other changes in skin texture. Other rare side effects include graying of treated hair or excessive hair growth around treated areas, particularly on darker skin.Are there long term side effects to laser hair removal? ›
There do not appear to be any long-term health risks associated with the procedure. However, some people may experience minor side effects after laser hair removal. People should ask their dermatologist to test how a small patch of skin reacts to the treatment before having it done on a larger area of skin.What is the most serious hazard associated with laser hair removal? ›
The primary hazard associated with laser hair removal facilities stems from inadvertent exposure to laser emissions. Exposure to an individual may occur directly from the laser beam, or when the beam is reflected from a shiny surface such as a mirror, ring, glass picture frame, etc.Does laser hair removal affect organs? ›
It's also a myth that laser hair removal can cause infertility. Only the skin surface is affected by the lasers, so the minimal radiation from the procedure can't penetrate to any of your organs.Who is laser hair removal not suitable for? ›
It does not work well on dark skin
Laser hair removal works better on people with pale skin and dark hair. It's not as effective on tanned skin or hair that's been bleached by the sun. If you've got a tan you'll need to let it fade before having treatment.
Do not pick/scratch/wax/thread/tweeze the area. Avoid picking or scratching the treated skin. do not use any other hair removal methods or products, other than shaving, on the treated area during the course of your laser treatments, as it will prevent you from achieving the best results.How many years will laser hair removal last? ›
On the face, laser hair removal isn't typically permanent but may be long-lasting. Some people report seeing no hair return after 10 years or more. Others experience regrowth sooner and rely on annual touchup treatments to keep unwanted hair at bay.Does hair grow back years after laser? ›
After your laser session, the growth of new hair will be less noticeable. However, even though laser treatments damage hair follicles, they're not destroyed completely. Over time, the treated follicles may recover from the initial damage and grow hair again.Does laser hair removal cause hormonal changes? ›
A hormonal imbalance may result in increased hair regrowth after laser hair removal procedures. Alternatively, laser hair removal may remove existing hair, but excess male hormones will rapidly stimulate regrowth.Which body organ is most susceptible to laser injury? ›
- Retina: Laser light in the visible to near-infrared spectrum can cause damage to the retina. ...
- Cornea and lens: Laser light in the ultraviolet or far-infrared spectrum can cause damage to the cornea or the lens.
Answer: Laser hair removal does not affect internal organs
Lasers create a beam of highly concentrated light that penetrates into the skin only where it delivers a controlled amount of therapeutic heat. This light energy is absorbed by the pigment located in the hair follicles.
Most of the radiation is transmitted to the retina*. Overexposure may cause flash blindness or retinal burns and lesions.Why do I feel sick after laser hair removal? ›
Initial treatments may cause short term muscle spasm, mild fatigue, mild nausea or headaches. It is thought that these healing reactions are the result of increased metabolites in the blood stream. This usually subsides within 48 hours.Can laser hair removal affect your ovaries? ›
“The lasers we use penetrate less than one millimeter into the skin, so there's no way they could reach your ovaries. But even if they did—which they never, ever could—they wouldn't do anything, anyway. They work on pigment and have no bearing on fertility.” Therefore, there's nothing to worry about.At what age laser hair removal is best? ›
One great thing about this treatment is that it's effective at any age. Whether you are 19 or 89, this treatment is the best way to permanently reduce your hair. The best time for you to seek treatment is whenever you realize that you have unwanted hair that you would be happier without.How do I prepare for my first laser hair removal? ›
- Stop plucking and waxing. Once you decide to go with laser hair removal, it's important to stop any other hair removal method that takes out hair at the root. ...
- Shave 24-48 hours before treatment. ...
- Refrain from tanning. ...
- Use caution with certain medications.
Therefore, long term occupational exposure to laser plumes may lead to HPV infection and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas. There is significant morbidity associated with these lesions and their treatment.What are the do's and don'ts before laser? ›
- Clean Your Skin Before the Treatment. ...
- Stop Waxing or Plucking. ...
- Shave the Treatment Area. ...
- Avoid Sun Exposure. ...
- Use Medications with Caution. ...
- Use Skin Products Carefully. ...
- Avoid Alcohol. ...
- Refrain from Drinking Coffee.
Generally, clients need about two to six laser treatments in order to completely get rid of hair. You can expect to see about a 10% to 25% reduction in hair after your first treatment. As you continue your treatments, more and more hair will fall out, and you'll notice that it continues to grow back more slowly.How many days of rest is required after laser treatment? ›
As a part of the immediate Lasik recovery process, you have to close your eyes for at least 2 to 4 hours after you have undergone the surgery. On average, Lasik treatment recovery time for some people may go from 1 week to 10 days while some others may take up to 6 weeks to get completely healed.
Given that only 85 per pent of hair follicles are in the anagen phase at any one time, and this is the most effective phase for laser hair removal, it is important to cycle your laser hair removal treatments every four to six weeks to ensure all hair follicles are treated over your treatment series.Why do I have more hair after laser? ›
Patients may notice more hair 1 – 3 weeks after laser hair removal sessions as follicles in the growing cycle begin to shed. During this process, exfoliating the skin, once swelling and redness have dissipated, can help hairs shed faster, leaving skin feeling smoother.Is laser actually permanent? ›
In short, no. Laser hair removal works by heating the hair follicles to stop new hairs from growing. This puts the hair follicles in a state of dormancy for a long period of time — much longer than with shaving and waxing. When the hairs do grow back, they'll be lighter, finer, and fewer in number.Can I shave in between laser treatments? ›
Yes, you can shave in between each session of laser hair removal. During your course of treatment you can shave any hairs that may regrow. After your first laser hair removal session you will notice that you won't need to shave as much as before. After 2-3 sessions you may only need to shave once in a 4-6 week period.What happens if you don't shave before laser hair removal? ›
As we mentioned a little earlier, if you don't shave before your appointment, the laser will singe the hair resulting in a burn to your skin. In addition, if the hair hasn't been shaved properly, treatment will not be as effective, and it may result in small temporary grazes on the top layer of your skin.Is laser hair removal permanent after 6 sessions? ›
You can expect to see a lasting reduction in hair growth after 6 sessions, usually spaced four to eight weeks apart based on hair growth cycles. While laser hair removal is permanent, some clients opt for a follow up session in a few years.Does laser hair removal cause thyroid problems? ›
The results of the study showed that the use of diode and alexandrite laser systems to remove facial hair in women are safe methods in terms of affecting thyroid function, because these laser systems have no effect on the concentration of thyroid hormones T3, T4 and TSH.What happens if laser interacts with tissue? ›
When laser light impinges on tissue, it can reflect, scatter, be absorbed, or transmit to the surrounding tissue. Absorption controls to a great degree the extent to which reflection, scattering and transmission occur, and wavelength is the primary determinant of absorption.Can laser damage your nerves? ›
Answer: Laser side effects
It is unlikely that the use of a laser to treat facial veins would damage any nerves as they are typically much deeper below the skin's surface and are intimate with the muscles. In addition, nerves tend to be white and do not absorb laser light energy.
Unanticipated eye exposure during laser beam alignment. About 40 % of accidents occur during alignment! Fatigue, leading to carelessness or inappropriate shortcuts; horseplay.
Answer: Blood clots and laser treatments are fine
There is nothing in the medical literature regarding blood clots and surface laser treatments (like hair removal).
Effects can range from mild skin burns to irreversible injury to the skin and eye. The biological damage caused by lasers is produced through thermal, acoustical and photochemical processes.What happens if a laser hits your skin? ›
Lasers can harm the skin via photochemical or thermal burns. Depending on the wavelength, the beam may penetrate both the epidermis and the dermis. The epidermis is the outermost living layer of skin. Far and Mid-ultraviolet (the actinic UV) are absorbed by the epidermis.What happens if a laser hits you? ›
Laser exposures can have a wide range of effects including flash blindness, dazzle, dark spots, hazy vision, floaters, burns, retinal bleeding, etc. Of special interest are the hazards posed by visible lasers from glare and flash blindness, and from very high energy lasers that could cause serious thermal injuries.What are the main dangers to be aware of when using a laser cutter? ›
The hazards associated with a laser cutter include the possibility of fires and the generation of hazardous and/or irritating combustion products. The laser cutter high powered laser can cause damage to eyes and skin, and it must be contained within the cutter.What are the most common hazards of laser equipment? ›
These include both direct beam hazards such as tissue burns, eye damage, endotracheal tube fire, drape fire, and explosion of gases, or non-beam hazards (those that are secondary to the actual beam interaction) such as laser generated airborne contaminants (surgical plume), electrical damage, toxic dyes, and system ...What hazards are associated with lasers? ›
- Unintentional eye exposure during alignment.
- Misaligned laser beam.
- Lack of eye protection.
- Equipment malfunction.
- Improper handling of high voltage systems.
- Use of unfamiliar equipment.
- Improper restoration of equipment following service.
What they may not know is this: When operated unsafely, or without certain controls, the highly-concentrated light from lasers—even those in toys—can be dangerous, causing serious eye injuries and even blindness. And not just to the person using a laser, but to anyone within range of the laser beam.What classes of laser pose the highest level of hazard? ›
Class 4-High Power Lasers and Laser Systems (top)
A high power laser or laser system that can produce a hazard not only from direct or specular reflections, but also from a diffuse reflection. In addition, such lasers may produce fire and skin hazards. Class 4 lasers include all lasers in excess of Class 3 limitations.
- Wear Laser Safety Glasses. With the significant damage lasers can cause to your eyes, it is imperative that you are wearing the correct laser safety glasses. ...
- Utilize Proper Storage. ...
- Follow Standards and Regulations. ...
- Work With Trained Personnel. ...
- Use Warning Signs.
Lasers can harm the skin via photochemical or thermal burns. Depending on the wavelength, the beam may penetrate both the epidermis and the dermis. The epidermis is the outermost living layer of skin.What are the precautions required while using laser? ›
NEVER put yourself into any position where your eyes approach the axis of a laser beam (even with eye protection on). Keep beam paths below or above standing or siting eye level. Do not direct them towards other people. Do not damage laser protective housings, or defeat the interlocks on these housings.Is laser light cancerous? ›
Laser therapy does not use the same ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths as those found in sunlight (i.e. UVA and UVB), which are known to damage the DNA in cells and cause skin cancer. Non-ionising radiation is also different to ionising radiation (e.g. nuclear radiation, x-rays), which is also known to cause cancer.What does a Class 2 laser mean? ›
Class 2 lasers are low power (< 1mW), visible light lasers that could possibly cause damage to a person's eyes. Some examples of Class 2 laser use are: classroom demonstrations, laser pointers, aiming devices and range finding equipment.What is a Class 5 laser? ›
Class 5 Photonics delivers ultrafast, high-power laser technology at outstanding performance to advance demanding applications from bio-imaging to ultrafast material science and attosecond science.What does a danger label on a laser mean? ›
Laser warning signs are used to alert employees and visitors if there is a risk of being exposed to a naked laser beam. Exposure to certain lasers can cause eye or optic damage, and skin burns.