Laser hair removal is a popular and effective way to get rid of unwanted body hair. The heat of the laser destroys hair follicles, providing longer-lasting results than waxing, tweezing, or other methods. While it is generally safe, there are some potential side effects that should be taken into consideration before undergoing the procedure. Rarely, laser hair removal can cause blisters, crusting, scarring, or other changes in skin texture.
Other rare side effects include greying of treated hair or excessive hair growth around treated areas, especially on darker skin. It's important to note that these side effects are rare and can be minimized by having an experienced healthcare provider perform the procedure. The FDA even approves some laser hair removal devices for home use. Of course, with home use, the risk of negative side effects, such as scarring, burns, or other injuries, increases.
The safest option is to go to a professional with the right equipment and experience who can ensure that you get the most out of your treatment while minimizing the risk of injury. Temporary irritation is another possible side effect of laser hair removal. You may notice slight redness and swelling in the treated area. These are usually the same effects you might notice after other types of hair removal, such as waxing.
When it comes to laser-induced skin discoloration, there are risk factors beyond having a naturally deep skin tone. Having your skin bathed in the sun after a recent vacation or a summer lounging by the pool may increase the risk of skin discoloration, since there is a temporary increase in melanin. It might be best to schedule the laser treatment before your big trip and stay out of direct sunlight (and use sunscreen outdoors) as much as possible just before the appointment. If you have melanin-rich skin, you'll need to ask more questions about the type of laser that will be used during treatment.
Light energy is much less strong than that used for office procedures, which also makes home devices safer to use without much risk of error. And since they're less powerful than professional devices, they're also likely to cause you less pain. Keep in mind that certain types of lasers may not be compatible with certain skin tones and hair colors. You should also research which laser might work best with your skin tone and call the office to make sure that the device they use is approved by the FDA for laser hair removal (look for it in the 510 (k) database on the FDA website to make sure).
If you fall into those categories, it's best to schedule a consultation with a dermatologist to determine the right device, either at home or in the office, that will be safest for your skin tone and hair color. If body hair removal is your thing (by the way, it's totally okay to let it grow), there are plenty of temporary options at your disposal. Electrolysis produces even longer-lasting results than laser treatments but may not be suitable for everyone. If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, these hairs may fall out on their own so you may not need any medical treatment if you wait until the pregnancy is over. When it comes to laser hair removal, it's important to remember that it may not agree with everyone. People with red, white, gray or blonde hair should be careful with this later on since laser treatments focus on melanin.
The duration of laser hair removal will vary from person to person; it can last from months to years without the need for maintenance but “retouching” is recommended to see the best long-term results. There are home treatment options for laser hair removal that are recommended by dermatologists because they're quite close to the technology that dermatology would use for in-office laser hair removal but still safe enough for a non-professional user. Overall, laser hair removal is a safe option for removing hair if done safely and correctly. It's important to do your research and consult with an experienced healthcare provider before undergoing any type of procedure.