August 3, 2018

Does Home Laser Hair Removal Cause Cancer?

Although I am a no-Hair Evangelist, I feel I should also play fair and look at the not-so-cool facts about laser hair removal.

Okay, the really big question to start with is:

Does laser hair removal cause cancer?

No. It doesn’t, and that is the short and sweet answer, but we’re not going to leave it there on my word.

This research proves that over a twenty-five year research period, there is no evidence to directly link the use of lasers and IPL (intense pulsed light a.k.a. home laser hair removal machines) to cancer, specifically skin cancer.

However:

(I suppose there always has to be a ‘but’)...

...there were a handful of hearsay cases where melanomas were detected after laser hair removal was used for a period of over twenty years (still doesn’t sound nearly as scary as smoking stats).

We need to be realistic though:

Anything you do over a really long time may expose you to risks down the line, but the cancer research and laser hair removal is quite clear-cut without alarm bells, red flags, and dire warnings.

That answers the cancer question, but it doesn’t exclude the fact that there are other possible IPL side effects. So, let’s take a look at those.

What Are The Possible Side Effects of Home Laser Hair Removal?

IPL treatment side effects include feeling pain, discomfort, or feeling itchy after laser hair removal, but it is temporary and there are tricks that can help for relief. Let's talk in-depth about the most common issues:

1. Burns

After laser treatment, your skin could behave and feel like it’s been sunburned, even with peeling afterwards. This is laser hair removal burn and also why I mentioned in a previous post that it really does help to start applying high factor sun cream from four weeks before treatment and then continuously after treatment as well.

2. Swelling

Swelling after laser hair removal is also quite common but not permanent! Just apply soothing gels or take anti-inflammatories if it causes a lot of tenderness and pain.

3. Hyperpigmentation

Firstly, what is hyperpigmentation?

Think of it like having freckles or patches of discolored skin which vary in size and severity.

Laser hair removal hyperpigmentation is a more serious possible side effect, but you can follow some simple rules to reduce this.  It is most commonly caused by “over lasering” an area, so don’t sit and text in one hand, while you have your laser in the other. Lasers penetrate the lower skin layers, so overheating in an area under the skin will cause lighter skin patches.

So, if you’re wondering who is more susceptible to laser hair removal discoloration, well unfortunately, people with darker skin tones (like me!) are prone to hyperpigmentation after laser hair removal. I can safely say that to date (touch wood), I have not yet experienced this side effect. If you’re feeling a little unsure, try laser a small area first to see if you are predisposed to developing laser hair removal dark spots.

But, one very important rule to follow before and after treatment is to avoid the sun! It can worsen or even trigger the hyperpigmentation after laser hair removal.

I actually cannot stress this point enough:

Line up those sun cream bottles, keep your hat on, and keep covered. This is also a good reason to start your laser hair treatment in autumn or winter.

4. Itching

Itching after laser hair removal is another common side effect. In fact, I found this to be the worst one of the Brazilian laser hair removal side effects. It is not very classy to keep having to scratch down there so I highly recommend using a cool compress or Aloe Vera gel after treatment.

5. Irritation

You could also experience redness or any other skin irritation after laser hair removal... but don’t panic. It does not mean you’re a case study for Laser Hair Removal Gone Wrong, it is just your skin having a laser hair removal reaction. In very rare cases, laser hair removal has stimulated dormant infections and, in that case, you would need to get proper medical creams and advice to treat it.

Is Laser Hair Removal Safe for my Face?

I want to end off talking about the face. 

It generally is a safe, tried, and tested technique but if things do go wrong it’s a bit more difficult to hide.

I have read some credible research where 10% of people could experience crusting of the skin on the face. Again, this is another temporary side effect and proper aftercare will help alleviate the crusting.

Be super careful when using laser hair removal on your face because of the eyes! When I’m brave enough to use the laser on my face, I will invest in a pair of heavy duty factory eyewear.

Pigmentation issues can also affect the skin on your face and it seems quite usual to see your skin going lighter (or even darker) while lasering, but it usually rectifies itself post treatment. But, like I said before, permanent discoloration could occur, specifically in us darker beauties!

Blistering and scarring has been reported after laser hair removal on the face. I would be very worried about the potential of scarring because this is permanent.

How does scarring happen?

By using the wrong settings on your laser device - so make sure you learn everything you can about the device and went through the manual more than once.

Remember:

Be safe, be knowledgeable about what you’re doing, and look after your skin before and after laser hair removal, no matter which part of your body is going hairless.

Happy hair removal!

Any thoughts or questions? Share in the comment section below!

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   About the author Alyssa Kaye

Alyssa is a young, professional blogger living in Hoboken, NJ. Thanks to her Middle Eastern heritage, Alyssa is no stranger to unwanted hair. She has tried every laser hair removal product on the market in a quest to find the best!

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