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Laser Hair Removal Side Effects: Everything You Need To Know

Maya Adivi • May, 2023

Laser Hair Removal Side Effects: Everything You Need to Know

Maya Adivi • May, 2023

When you hear the word laser, it makes perfect sense to start imagining what could go wrong. After all, you’re blasting your skin with a concentrated source of light energy! Well, we’ve got some great news - most laser hair removal side effects are minor and easy to tolerate.

 This amazing technology works by targeting only hair, without impacting your skin. The laser pinpoints the hair follicle with precision and damages it so it can no longer grow hair. With regular treatments, hair growth slows down until you’re eventually left almost entirely smooth!

  If you’ve been dreaming of hairless skin but you still have some trepidation, then read on! We’ll cover the main laser hair removal side effects, the factors that influence them, and how you can reduce your own risk.

Table Of Contents

  • 1. Common Laser Hair Removal Side Effects
  • 2. Uncommon Laser Hair Removal Side Effects
  • 3. Factors Influencing Laser Hair Removal Side Effects
  • 4.  Minimizing Side Effects of Laser Hair Removal

Common Laser Hair Removal Side Effects

First, here are the most common side effects experienced with laser hair removal. All of these side effects are pretty normal and quick to disappear. Even so, around half of the people who undergo laser hair removal will not experience any side effects at all, including these common ones.

  Stinging: The actual laser hair removal process can sting a little. After the treatment, your treated area might feel a little sore or raw. It’ll usually calm down within a few hours or up to two days.

  Redness: Like slight stinging, some redness is also a common side effect, especially localized around the treated hair follicles. This is another normal and quick-to-disappear side effect.

  Swelling: Slight swelling is also common but minor, and it’s usually only localized around the hair follicle. Like the other symptoms, it tends to fade soon after treatment. Itching: Itching is less common, but can occur occasionally as a sign of sensitivity or irritation.

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Uncommon Laser Hair Removal Side Effects

These side effects are much less common and are sometimes a sign that something went wrong with your treatment, preparation, or aftercare.

  Pigmentation changes: Pigmentation changes, and especially hyperpigmentation, can sometimes occur. It’s more common in those with deeper skin tones, especially if an inappropriate laser is used.

  Blistering and scabbing: Blisters and scabs are usually a sign that you’ve been burned by the laser, which may signal that the level of treatment was too intense for your skin.

  Texture changes or scarring: These can also occur if the skin had been burned, leading to visible texture changes that usually fade. There have been some reports of lasting scarring, but it’s incredibly rare.

Factors Influencing Laser Hair Removal Side Effects

Your Provider
 The provider who conducts your laser hair removal can have a fairly big impact on whether your experience severe side effects or not. A great provider will use the right equipment at the right intensity level for your skin, and they will be able to counsel you on all of the important measures you need to take to avoid side effects.

 Preparation
How well you follow the recommended laser hair removal preparation instructions can also impact your likelihood of side effects. There are also important contraindications you should be aware of before booking your appointment, like having certain pre-existing health conditions and taking photosensitizing medications.

 Treatment Intensity
The higher the level of intensity to which your laser hair removal machine is set, the likelier it is it’ll irritate or burn the skin. At the same time, a very low intensity might not impact the hair follicles as effectively.

  Aftercare
Neglecting to follow good aftercare practices can increase your risk of side effects, especially sunburn. On the other hand, proper, gentle care for your skin will make recovery faster and reduce side effects.

 Natural Sensitivity
Some people have skin that’s more reactive than others. Your skin’s natural sensitivity will impact how likely you are to experience irritation from laser hair removal. Unfortunately, this factor is pretty innate and hard to control, but adjusting the laser intensity can help.

  Skin Type
Your skin’s phototype, which is colloquially referred to as skin tone, can also impact how likely you are to experience side effects. That’s because lasers depend on color to differentiate the hair follicle from the skin. The lower the contrast between the skin and hair, the likelier it is that the laser will also slightly impact the skin.

  Nowadays, higher-wavelength devices like the diode and Nd:YAG are able to dramatically reduce the risk of side effects of laser hair removal for those with deeper skin tones while increasing efficacy. It’s very important to choose a provider that understands how to treat deeper skin and has laser equipment with wavelengths appropriate for your skin type.

Minimizing Side Effects of Laser Hair Removal

There are a lot of things you can do to minimize the side effects of laser hair removal, both before and after your treatment. Follow all of these steps, and your risk of more severe irritation, sensitivity, or burns will go down dramatically.

  • Choose an amazing provider: An experienced doctor, nurse, or laser hair removal technician will know to choose the right device and techniques appropriate for your skin.
  • Right equipment for your skin tone: Those with fair skin can use most machines, those with deeper skin should use machines with higher wavelengths.
  • Keep to lower intensity at first: During the treatment, you can let your provider know if the laser intensity feels too high.
  • Read the contraindications carefully: With some conditions, the risk of adverse effects is too high, and it might be better to avoid it altogether.
  • Come with your skin at its base color: Having a tan can increase your chances of
  • Make sure your skin is healthy and intact: Never have laser hair removal done over already irritated or broken skin.
  • Be careful with moles or tattoos: Areas where skin where the skin is darker or discolored are more likely to get burned during laser treatments, so make sure to avoid treating them.
  • Avoid sun before and after: Staying away from the sun is key for preventing side effects like burns or blistering.
  • Take gentle care of your skin: Soothing, fragrance-free lotions can help speed your skin’s recovery. In cases of more significant redness or irritation, you can even use a cortisone cream.
  • Avoid hot temperatures: Heat and heavy workouts that bring blood to the surface of the skin can increase post-laser inflammation. For at least a few days, keep things cool and gentle.

Maya Adivi

Maya Adivi is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience working in the beauty industry. Before becoming a writer, she worked as a makeup artist and facialist with expertise in performing a broad range of advanced treatments. She champions an evidence-based approach to beauty, prioritizing real data over buzzwords or myths. She brings that love for science and research when writing for Evertone.

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Maya Adivi

Maya Adivi is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience working in the beauty industry. Before becoming a writer, she worked as a makeup artist and facialist with expertise in performing a broad range of advanced treatments. She champions an evidence-based approach to beauty, prioritizing real data over buzzwords or myths. She brings that love for science and research when writing for Evertone.