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Side Effects of Laser Hair Removal

Medically Reviewed by Cellaxys

By Published: March 20, 2020Updated: November 28, 2022No Comments

Side Effects of Laser Hair Removal

Within the world of beauty, hair removal products are some of the most sought-after. Many women are searching for a product that will eliminate facial hair for cosmetic reasons. Due to its major popularity, there are thousands of options for removing hair. From creams to laser treatments, there should be something for everyone. Though razors or waxing can be enough for some people, there is a market for individuals who want their hair removed permanently. Treatments like electrolysis and laser hair removal can provide this, but come with some side effects and risks that are important to be aware of when making this decision.

Why Get Laser Hair Removal?

Why Get Laser Hair Removal

The general public, especially women, are familiar with how irritating hair removal can be. There are so many products on the market that promise to remove hair quickly and painlessly. Shaving creams, special razors, hair removal scrubs, wax, and at-home remedies are all a part of the hair removal repertoire.

Finding a hair removal routine that fits with your level of comfort and desired convenience can be difficult and expensive. A trial-and-error approach is often taken to test the waters before committing to one single treatment.

The process of finding a hair removal technique that works can be exhausting – many women and men are seeking a treatment that requires less products and day-to-day maintenance.

This is where laser hair removal comes in: it offers an option for hair removal that can have more long-term effects and requires little upkeep. It’s no secret that laser hair removal is more convenient – but it comes with risks, like any procedure.

Another popular treatment for permanent hair removal is electrolysis. Using a similar methodology, electrolysis is able to kill hair and the cells surrounding it. Finding out what treatment may be right for you can be accomplished by talking to a medical professional who is knowledgeable about hair removal.

What Happens During Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal works by damaging the hair follicle. Follicles are a little sac surrounding a hair at its root. Once a follicle is damaged, it can no longer sustain the hair inside and it falls out. This damage can be repaired generally by the body’s own natural healing processes, but long-term use can lead to long-term damage to the follicles which results in less and less hair over time.

This is all possible because of the relationship between UV light and melanin. We have melanin pigmentation cells in our skin as a means of protecting us from the UV rays of the sun. Laser hair removal casts a short beam of UV light onto an area, the intensity of which can vary depending on a patient’s complexion. The light is administered in short flashes so that the UV rays don’t spread beyond the hair and onto the skin.

UV rays that hit and effectively remove a hair do so by heating it to a burning point. The burn in a hair then travels down into the follicle and damages the protective skin surrounding the base. Once this protective layer is too damaged, hair no longer grows back.

Using a laser to remove hair works better on some individuals than others. People whose skin tone matches their hair color can be more difficult to treat. People with dark hair and light skin see the best results, as the laser is trying to attack melanin. With dark hair (high amount of melanin) and light skin (low amount of melanin), lasers can most effectively kill hairs without killing as much melanin in the skin.

Lasers are also used to combat wrinkles, reduce the appearance of scars and acne spots, and generally rejuvenate skin. This is accomplished by using lasers to kill the outer layer of skin which allows the more dense, healthy-looking inner layers to surface.

Because lasers damage melanin, people with darker skin need less intense lasers. Damaged melanin in dark skin can lead to changes in pigment. Consider someone with vitiligo – the different pigments in the skin are caused by a lack of melanin in some areas. To avoid causing a similar effect, laser hair removal practitioners have to take special care.

Risks and Side Effects

Though using lasers can be an effective tool for hair removal and wrinkle treatment, every tool in the hair removal arsenal comes with a set of risks. A big fear surrounding laser hair removal is that it may not work, or could even make matters worse in some cases. There have been reports of laser treatments that seemed to make hair grow back faster and thicker.

Whether or not laser hair removal is a good option for you, it’s important to consider the risks and side effects of any treatment before making the decision to use it. Risks associated with laser hair removal are:

  • Scarring
  • Redness
  • Discoloration or changes in pigment
  • Blisters
  • Swelling
  • Ingrown hairs
  • Infection from open wound

Reactions that occur as a result of laser hair removal are unlike reactions from other treatments because there is little to no risk of an allergic reaction. One of the most common negative responses to over-the-counter hair removal options is allergic reaction or development of a rash. Just as it is important to research more invasive treatments, checking the ingredient label and doing a spot test are good ways to test the waters before fully committing.

It is also important to ensure that the practitioner has the necessary qualifications and experience. Luckily, bad practices are becoming more difficult to find, but this is still important to consider.

Another potential drawback of laser hair removal is the cost. In most cases, multiple sessions are needed to provide the intended results and the price of going back can become significant. Electrolysis can be similarly expensive. There are at-home treatments on the market, but there is no concrete proof that they work better than professionally performed operations. Risks are lowered when the operation is being performed by a professional.


Unwanted hair is often faced with multiple attempts to remove it. Many individuals who use inexpensive methods like shaving or waxing can see results, but there is no promise that hair will stop growing. For those who are seeking permanent hair removal, there are options such as electrolysis and laser hair removal. It is important to get educated about all of the potential risks and side effects of a treatment. Speaking to a doctor or other qualified medical professional can set you on the right path toward more permanent hair removal.

Dr. Pejman Bady

Dr. Pejman Bady began his career over 20 years ago in Family/Emergency Medicine, working in fast-paced emergency departments in both Nevada and Kansas. He has served the people of Las Vegas as a physician for over two decades.


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