Side Effects & Risks with Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal treatment is generally a safe procedure when carried out by a qualified, experienced practitioner. Though there are risks associated with having laser hair removal treatment, and side effects can occur. There are different categories of side effects which you can experience. Any side effects should be reported to your practitioner.

Normal Side Effects of Laser Hair Removal

It is normal for you to experience some minor side effects after treatment. These can include:

  • Swelling around the mouth of treated follicles for around three days
  • Pain, tingling or numbness
  • Itching on the treated area
  • Redness on the treated area for around three days after treatment

Redness on the treated area is very common and is experienced by most people who have laser hair removal treatment. Laser exposure can create a wound in the dermis of the skin and causes the layers above this to become red. This side effect can be reduced by cooling the area after treatment.  

Temporary Side Effects of Laser Hair Removal

Temporary side effects can be appear and then disappear after a short period of time. The usual timescale for such side effects ranges from days to weeks, months at the most. You may experience side effects like:

  • Reddening of the area after treatment
  • Swelling of the treated area
  • Skin blistering on the treated area. This can be caused by using a higher laser frequency than that for your skin type. Modern cooling devices have reduced the risk of this happening. 
  • Hypo-pigmentation. This is mostly seen in those who have had multiple treatments and darker skin types. It is only temporary in most cases. 

Serious Side Effects of Laser Hair Removal

There are more serious side-effects which you can experience. These have a much greater implication than the normal and temporary side effects, and can cause severe problems if they are not treated correctly. Such side effects include:


Scarring on the past this has been one of the worst side effects to get, as scars can be unsightly. The main cause of scarring is the laser itself. An infection after treatment can cause the formation of scar tissue too. Pulsed laser hair removal systems can minimise the risk of getting scars after treatment.


Hyper-pigmentation is the darkening of the skin. This is caused by an increase in the production and deposition of pigment in the skin. You are more likely to develop this if you have tanned or dark skin. The effects are generally only temporary and can be treated with bleaching agents.  


Burns on treated skin can be a serious side effect but are thankfully quite rare. These can be treated with appropriate wound dressing and aftercare.

Eye injuries due to the laser

Eye injuries can result because of the laser. Eye safety is imperative when having any kind of laser treatment. Eyewear suitable for the laser wavelength will prevent any eye injuries resulting from direct or indirect laser contact.

Infection of wounds

Infections of wounds only occur when the skin’s epidermis is damaged. Bacteria, viruses and fungi can all cause infection. Antibiotic and antiviral creams should be used after treatment to minimise the risk of getting an infection.

Rare Side Effects of Laser Hair Removal

You may also experience some rare side effects. These are very uncommon but must be taken into consideration. These include:

  • Bruising on treated areas
  • Infection
  • Purpura
  • Crusting

Purpura is bleeding into the skin and appears as a red/purple rash on the skin. It can be caused by damage to a blood vessel wall. It is usually only temporary, lasting around 3-5 days. If you notice this you should report it to your practitioner or doctor.

Crusting can occur after treatment with certain types of laser. This is usually caused by over treatment of an area. This can be treated with postoperative care and is recommended if an alexandrite or long-pulsed ruby laser has been used. 

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