If you are considering laser hair removal it is essential to be well informed before you begin any form of treatment. Although safe and convenient, there are some side effects ranging from mild to severe. The most common side effects tend to be mild but it is also important to know what the rare and more severe side effects are as well.
Most common Laser Hair Removal Side Effects
The most common side effects are temporary and will disappear in a few days or weeks. Redness and swelling around the hair follicles are typical and tend to fade within 3 days of treatment. Other temporary side effects include pain and/or tingling at the site of treatment.
Although rare, it is also important to know about the more serious side effects. It does not mean that these will necessarily happen to you! The incident rate of these side effects is very low although it can vary based on the experience of your practitioner.
Rare but Serious Side Effects
A temporary change in pigmentation is a possible side effect – either hyperpigmenation (darker patches of skin) or hypopigmentation (lighter patches of skin). The risk of this is increased if you have a laser treatment while you have a tan so it is recommended that you wait for your tan to fade and use sun block prior to having a treatment. Another possible risk is scab formation – if this happens, it should immediately be reported to your doctor.
Burning and scarring caused by the laser are also possible if the correct treatment is not chosen to suit your skin type. Different lasers are recommended for light hair vs. dark hair or light skin vs. dark skin and you need to discuss this with your specialist and it is advisable to take a patch test before a full treatment.
There is a risk of infection if the skin is damaged during treatment. If this is the case, you will be given a topical antibiotic to use for several days after the treatment. If you have a history of herpes simplex or cold sores, there is a risk of an outbreak following treatment but this can be minimized by taking appropriate antiviral medication before laser hair removal treatment.
You can reduce the risk of laser hair removal side effects by choosing a licensed practitioner that has several years of experience and a good track record with patients. Some medicines can increase the risk of side effects so discuss any medications your are taking with your laser hair removal specialist beforehand and you may be required to stop taking certain medications for several weeks prior to treatment.