A woman receiving laser hair removal on her underarms.

Is Laser Hair Removal Safe?

Laser hair removal is an excellent alternative to shaving, waxing, and plucking unwanted hairs.

From small areas such as the underarms to large areas such as the entire back, laser hair removal is a popular choice for both men and women no matter their skin tone, skin color, or hair color.

However, there’s still one question on everyone’s mind.

Is laser hair removal safe?

If safety concerns are keeping you from removing your unwanted hairs, here’s what you need to know.

If you don’t feel like reading, the key takeaway is: laser hair removal is safe when performed by a licensed professional.


How Does the Laser Work?

Unlike other hair removal methods, this procedure involves the use of laser light technology. The laser functions by emitting pulses of light energy into a targeted area of the skin, destroying both the root and the follicle of each hair. With the root and follicle destroyed, the hair cannot grow back, allowing for the permanent removal of body hair.

Patients must undergo a series of laser treatments spread out over weeks and months. This spacing is necessary to destroy the individual hair follicles and achieve permanent hair removal. Each hair goes through three stages of growth, and the hairs in a specific area of the body can all be in different stages at the same time.

Spacing out laser treatments is very important. Laser hair removal needs to occur during the active growth stage to prevent the hair follicles from regrowth.


Does Laser Hair Removal Hurt?

Laser hair removal treatments are some of the best hair removal procedures available. The laser doesn’t hurt, though it can be slightly uncomfortable. Most people say that it feels like snapping a rubber band against the skin.

The pain is minimal, and most certified clinics and technicians use cooling methods before and after treatment. Numbing the skin with the use of a cooling system significantly reduces pain during and after the hair removal procedure.


Are There Side Effects?

There are a few common side effects associated with laser hair removal. For example, it is typical to experience some slight discomfort, redness, and swelling in the first few hours after treatment. Some patients also experience minor itching.

You can treat these common side effects with the simple use of aloe vera to soothe and calm the skin, but it’s also important not to complicate these issues.

Related: What to Expect Before, During and After Underarm Laser Hair Removal

After treatment, avoid working out and exercising, and be sure to wear loose clothing, so you don’t sweat in the treated area. It’s also crucial that you avoid sun exposure for the first 48 hours after a session. These side effects can affect various skin types and parts of the body ranging from the bikini line to the upper lip.

In rare cases, severe side effects can occur.

For example, you may have a higher risk of infection to the hair follicle and may see scars if you don’t perform the proper follow-up care. It is possible for blistering and burns to occur. These only occur if you use an unqualified or inexperienced technician for your laser hair removal treatments.

Many injuries also occur when people attempt laser hair removal with a home laser and without a laser hair removal technician present. A certified professional that knows how to operate the laser properly will not create burns or blisters on your skin.

It’s also essential to protect your eyes, especially when getting laser hair removal on or near the face. Make sure your technician provides you with proper eye protection before your laser treatment. Eye damage can be one of the worst side effects of laser hair removal. The pulses of light emitted by the laser can do severe damage to eyes not shielded with protective eyewear.


Common Myths About Laser Hair Removal

There are two common myths about laser hair removal that are entirely untrue. Unfortunately, there are still some that people may tell you:

1. Laser hair removal can cause cancer (False).

This statement is FALSE. Laser hair removal does not cause cancer. Yes, the laser emits a small amount of radiation, but it is not enough radiation to do any damage to the skin. The only damage caused by the laser is to the hair root and the hair follicle in order to prevent further hair growth.

2. Laser hair removal can cause infertility (False).

Laser hair removal does NOT cause infertility. There is absolutely no evidence stating that laser technology can cause you to become infertile or sterile.


Is Laser Hair Removal Safe for Everyone?

Laser hair removal is safe, but you should always consult with a professional laser technician or dermatologist before beginning any treatment sessions.

Some patients, such as those with diabetes, may be at a more significant cause for risk during a laser treatment. Diabetic patients tend to heal more slowly, and that can increase the risk of getting an infection. In some cases, your technician may want to test a small patch of skin first to see how you react to the treatment.

Related: Laser Hair Removal While Pregnant, Is It Safe?

Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should also avoid laser hair removal. There is not enough research to determine what effect removing hair with a laser can have on a fetus or a nursing baby. To be safe, err on the side of caution and wait until you’re done breastfeeding to begin your treatments.


How Safe is Laser Hair Removal?

Laser hair removal is safe and it is one of the best ways to prevent unwanted hair from regrowth — under one condition:

You MUST have the hair removal procedure performed by a certified laser hair removal technician in a clinic or facility with a dermatologist on staff.

Before you rush out to book an appointment at a local spa, make sure that they have licensed and qualified health care professionals on staff. The laser treatment itself is noninvasive, so some states deem it as a medical procedure, whereas other states do not.

Depending on where you live, you may find that there are strict rules and guidelines on who can and who cannot perform laser treatments. For a complete list of the laws and regulations by state, click here.

The FDA has approved laser hair removal, but federal approval is irrelevant if your technician cannot operate safely.


Conclusion

The takeaway is this: laser hair removal is safe for most people — but only when performed by a licensed and certified professional.

Choosing the wrong person to do your procedure can put you at higher risk and leave you with lasting side effects, such as blistering and burns.

When performed by a qualified laser hair removal technician, the procedure is safe. It does not cause cancer, and it will not cause you to become sterile or infertile. If the hair removal procedure is done correctly, there are very minimal side effects. The targeted hair follicles and roots will be the only areas affected.

Are you still concerned about the pain? There’s little to worry about, as laser hair removal is one of the safest ways that you can achieve hair reduction and permanent hair removal. You can expect some slight discomfort during the laser treatment as well as some swelling and redness for a few hours after the procedure.

However, once the side effects of the hair removal procedure subside, you’ll be able to enjoy a smooth, hairless area of skin that you’ll never have to worry about waxing or plucking those unwanted hairs ever again!

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