Risks

Laser hair removal does carry some risk, so it is mandatory that it is performed under proper medical supervision and in a certified centre.
Several types of complications can occur following laser hair removal treatment. Most are mild and only last a few hours to a few days. If you are in doubt, do not hesitate to consult your GP.

Burns

Burning is mainly associated with darker skin tones, tanned skin or recently UV exposed skin (even without tanning), or the prior taking of beta-carotene or self-tanning pills.

These burns manifest themselves as scabs or bubbles and occur when the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the epidermis) exceeds its heat tolerance.

In this situation, infection is a concern and therefore a mild antiseptic disinfectant should be applied, and the wound protected from light and oxygen and allowed to stay soft. The use of a Vaseline dressing will allow the new skin to develop before the crust falls off. The duration of this phase is normally less than 21 days.

These crusts may cause some hypo-pigmentation or hyper-pigmentation that is mostly reversible. However, in rare circumstances, the scars remain visible and reduce in size with time. In this case, the Epilium & Skin consultant will recommend appropriate medical treatment.

Pigmentation irregularities

These can manifest themselves in two ways: hyper pigmentation (an increase in the normal skin colour) or hypo pigmentation (a decrease in normal skin tone). The risk of post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation increases according to the skin type. Hypo-pigmentation occurs on pigmented areas or areas with burn injuries. These problems are generally transient but may last several months. In some cases, they may require a specific treatment of creams that your GP will need to prescribe.

Hypo-pigmentation disappears mostly with early sun exposure.

Haematomas

(severe localised build-up of blood vessels/bruising)

These can occur in patients taking anticoagulant medication such as aspirin or anti-vitamin K.

Paradoxical regrowth

In some areas of fine down growth, the treatment using lasers can stimulate further ‘down-like’ hair. This is why you should never remove hair down!

The main factors encouraging this paradoxical re-growth are hormonal disorders in the context of polycystic ovary syndrome, and the taking of certain medications such as corticosteroids and Finastéride®.

The areas prone to the risk in women are the neck, cheeks and arms, and in men are the cheeks, neck and shoulders.

All skin types can be affected, but types III and IV should be more careful:

  • Phototype III corresponds to an intermediate skin tone, brown hair with brown eyes. Sunburn is rare and the skin gradually bronzes
  • Phototype IV corresponds to a dull skin, brown hair and normally brown or black eyes. Once again, sunburn is limited and strong bronzing takes place

Treatments based on lasers using short pulses and too few sessions may explain the continuing growth of down-like hair. This form of treatment requires a number of sessions and the use of a laser with a long pulse such as the Nd:Yag.