Laser hair removal was performed experimentally for about 20 years before it became commercially available in the mid 1990s. One of the first published articles describing laser hair removal was authored by the group at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1998. The efficacy of laser hair removal is now generally accepted in the dermatology community, and laser hair removal is widely practiced in clinics, and even in homes use devices designed and priced for consumer self-treatment. Many reviews of laser hair removal methods, safety, and efficacy have been published in the dermatology literature .
Some normal side effects may occur after laser hair removal treatments, including itching, pink skin, redness, and swelling around the treatment area or swelling of the follicles (follicular edema) . These side effects rarely last more than two or three days. The most common serious side effect is change in skin pigment.
Some level of pain should also be expected during treatments. Numbing creams are available at most clinics, sometimes for an additional cost. Some numbing creams are available over the counter. Use of strong numbing creams over large skin areas being treated at one time must be avoided, as this has seriously harmed, and even killed, patients.
Typically, the cream should be applied about 30 minutes before the procedure. Icing the area after the treatment helps relieve the side effects faster.
Unwanted side effects such as hypo- or hyper-pigmentation or, in extreme cases, burning of the skin call for an adjustment in laser selection or settings. Risks include the chance of burning the skin or discoloration of the skin, hypopigmentation (white spots), flare of acne, swelling around the hair follicle (considered a normal reaction), scab formation, purpura, and infection. These risks can be reduced by treatment with an appropriate laser type used at appropriate settings for the individual's skin type and treatment area.
Some patients may show side effects from an allergy to either the hair removal gel used with certain laser types or to a numbing cream, or to simply shaving the area too soon in relation to the treatment.
Laser Hair Removal Rare side effects include blistering, scarring and skin texture changes
- Dierickx, C.C., et al., Permanent hair removal by normal-mode ruby laser. Arch Dermatol, 1998. 134(7): p. 837-42.
- Gold MH. Lasers and light sources for the removal of unwanted hair. Clin Dermatol. 2007 Sep-Oct;25(5):443-53.
- Eremia, S., et al., Laser hair removal: long-term results with a 755 nm alexandrite laser. Dermatol Surg, 2001. 27(11): p. 920-4.
- FDA.gov[dead link]
- Radiation-Emitting Products: Laser Facts, FDA
- Michel CE. Trichiasis and distichiasis; with an improved method for radical treatment. St. Louis Clinical Record, 1875 Oct; 2:145-148
- Görgü M, Aslan G, Aköz T, Erdoğan B (January 2000). "Comparison of alexandrite laser and electrolysis for hair removal". Dermatol Surgery 26 (1): 37–41. DOI:10.1046/j.1524-4725.2000.99104.x. PMID 10632684.
- Public Health Advisory: Life-Threatening Side Effects with the Use of Skin Products Containing Numbing Ingredients for Cosmetic Procedures, FDA
- Laser Facts (US Food and Drug Administration)
- Additional Information on Removing Hair Safely
- American Academy of Dermatology, Public Resource Center, Laser Hair Removal
- American Society for Dermatologic Surgery: "Laser Hair Removal Fact Sheet"