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What Are the Effects of Laser Hair Removal on Skin?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2016
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Laser hair removal is considered to be one of the more permanent methods of hair removal. Besides removing the hair, however, there are often some less desirable effects of laser hair removal on skin. Some of these effects, like temporary redness and swelling, are common and usually no cause for concern. Other effects, however, like scarring and skin discoloration, are less common and considered to be more serious.

Redness and swelling are two of the most common side effects of laser hair removal, and they happen to most patients who undergo this procedure. These side effects are usually accompanied by tenderness or pain. All of these reactions can be relieved with pain medications, like ibuprofen, or by applying a cold pack to the area. The swelling will usually go away within a few days.

Almost all individuals who use lasers to remove body hair, whether over their full body or just in particular places, have an increased sensitivity to the sun. Experts recommend that hair removal clients stay out of the sun for a few days to avoid skin damage and then use a strong sunscreen.

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Although less common, blisters and burns are some other possible effects of laser hair removal. This is much more likely to occur in dark-skinned individuals. Blisters and burns can also occur when the laser is set too high or when the treatment is applied to a certain area of skin for too long. These side effects are considered to be a little more serious, since they could lead to infection or permanent scars.

Scarring is not a common effect of laser hair removal on skin, but it does occur in some cases. When blisters are opened and the underlying skin is damaged, a permanent scar may develop. Usually, these types negative side effects occur when an inexperienced technician performs the procedure.

A discoloration of the skin is another less common effect of laser hair removal. Hyperpigmentation happens when an area of skin becomes darker than a person's natural skin color. This is more likely to go away than hypopigmentation, which occurs when an area of skin becomes lighter than a person's natural skin color. Like blisters, this is more likely to occur in dark-skinned individuals who undergo laser hair removal. This is because the laser used during the process destroys the melanin in the hair follicle. Melanin is also responsible for producing skin pigment, and the more melanin in a person's skin, the darker she will be. When melanin is removed, it also causes the skin to become lighter.

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