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The Risks of Going Bare: Long Term Side Effects of Laser Hair Removal

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Everything You Need to Know Before Committing to Permanent Hair Reduction

For those seeking silky smooth skin without the hassle of daily shaving, laser hair removal can seem like the perfect solution. But before jumping into an intensive series of treatments, it’s important to understand the potential long term side effects. 

This guide from Ethos Aesthetics & Wellness covers all the essential information you need about the safety, risks, and precautions for laser hair removal.

What Causes Long Term Side Effects from Laser Hair Removal?

Laser hair removal uses concentrated beams of light to target the melanin pigment in hair follicles beneath the skin’s surface. This disables the follicle so hair growth is reduced or eliminated over time with repeated treatments. 

It’s considered a generally safe procedure when performed properly by a trained technician. However, there are some risks of side effects, both temporary and potentially permanent.

The laser targets melanin in the hair and skin, which can lead to irritation or changes in skin color, especially for those with darker complexions. Blistering, scarring, infections, and other issues are also possible if the technician uses improper laser settings or techniques. 

While serious risks are relatively rare, it’s important to understand the factors that influence side effects.

Factors Influencing Side Effects of Laser Hair Removal

Some of the key factors that can influence the side effects of laser hair removal include:

1Hair and skin typePeople with lighter hair and darker skin are generally better candidates as the laser is able to target the melanin in the hair follicle more effectively with less risk of damaging the epidermis. Those with darker hair and fairer skin are more likely to experience side effects.
2Laser settingsThe laser clinic needs to select the appropriate wavelength, pulse duration and fluence level for the individual’s hair and skin type. Higher settings deliver faster results but increase risk of side effects.
3Number of treatmentsMost people require 6 or more treatments spaced 4-6 weeks apart for long-term hair reduction. Side effects are more common with early treatments as the body adjusts to the process.
4Post-treatment careFollowing the clinic’s instructions on cooling the treated area, avoiding sun exposure and using recommended creams/gels can help minimize side effects like redness, swelling and irritation.
5Individual toleranceSome people are more sensitive than others and more likely to experience side effects even if all other risk factors are optimized.

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Common Temporary Side Effects

Most people only experience minor irritation and redness for a few days after laser hair removal sessions. Other typical short-term side effects include:

  • Swelling around the hair follicles
  • Itching or tenderness around treated areas
  • Raised, bumpy rash (similar to hives) in rare cases
  • Small blisters or scabs forming around follicles before they fall out

These symptoms usually resolve within a week as the skin calms down after being exposed to the laser. Proper post-treatment care helps minimize discomfort and duration of short-term effects.

Potential Long-Term Health Considerations for Laser Hair Removal

While significant risks are uncommon, there are a few potential long term side effects of laser hair removal to be aware of:

Permanent Skin Discoloration

One of the most worrisome risks is hyperpigmentation (darker patches or spots) or hypopigmentation (lightening of the skin). This change in melanin amounts can be permanent. It’s more likely for those with naturally darker complexions. Avoiding sun exposure and laser technicians carefully adjusting settings based on skin tone reduce this risk.

Excess Hair Growth

Paradoxically, laser hair removal can sometimes stimulate increased hair growth around the treated area. Reasons for this rare side effect aren’t fully understood. Tweezing or electrolysis can remove new hairs if this occurs.


If burns, blisters or other trauma from the laser results in damaged skin layers, scarring can sometimes occur. Choosing an experienced technician reduces this risk. Proper care helps wounds heal smoothly if they do occur.

While no procedure is completely risk-free, choosing an experienced laser technician and following provided aftercare diligently makes long term risks from laser hair removal very low.

Who Is at Highest Risk of Side Effects?

Those most vulnerable to side effects like pigmentation changes include:

  • People with darker complexions – risks increase parallel to darkness of skin tone
  • Those with sun-kissed skin or recent tans – the laser targets melanin
  • Clients on certain medications that increase sun sensitivity
  • Anyone with a history of keloid scars or poor wound healing
  • Those with conditions causing skin sensitivity like eczema or psoriasis
  • People undergoing laser hair removal on delicate facial areas

An expert technician takes special care adjusting laser settings and techniques for higher-risk clients to maximize safety and minimize side effects.

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How Can You Minimize the Risks?

While you can never guarantee zero risk, the following tips help reduce the likelihood of complications both during and after laser hair removal treatments:

  1. Avoid sun exposure and tanning beds for 4-6 weeks pre- and post-treatment
  2. Use SPF 30+ sunscreen diligently if sun exposure is unavoidable
  3. Follow your technician’s aftercare instructions carefully
  4. Use cooling creams, antihistamines, cortisone creams as recommended for relief
  5. Exfoliate gently 2-3 times per week post-treatment to prevent ingrown hairs
  6. Stay well hydrated and use moisturizers to support healing
  7. Tell your technician about any medications or medical conditions
  8. Consult Dr. Soni or your dermatologist at the first sign of any skin irregularities

Choosing an established laser hair removal provider with extensive experience and advanced technology minimizes the risks significantly. Tracking your results and reporting any unusual or prolonged side effects also helps identify potential problems early.

The Long Term Reward: Smooth Skin Without the Hassle

Understanding the realities of risks, recovery, and responsibilities for clients makes laser hair removal successful long term. While no hair removal method is completely pain- or risk-free, unwanted hair can be safely reduced drastically when performed by a trained aesthetic professional.

The choice of laser hair removal means committing to a series of treatments over months to achieve the best results. For most clients, the small transient side effects are a minor nuisance on the journey to smooth, stubble-free skin. No more painful waxing, expensive shaving products, or tedious hours removing hair. Just silky, sexy, hair-free skin with minimal upkeep.

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Experience the Ethos Difference

At Ethos Aesthetics & Wellness, clients enjoy a five-star experience with our experienced laser technicians. We utilize advanced lasers designed to precisely target hair follicles across all skin tones with minimal side effects and optimal results.

Within our luxurious and relaxing facility, we offer a complimentary consultation to assess your individual needs. Clients appreciate our honest guidance selecting the most effective options customized to their unique requirements, skin type, sensitivities, and budget.

Contact us today to schedule your free laser consultation. Discover how Ethos Aesthetics & Wellness helps clients look and feel their best with non-invasive cosmetic procedures designed to fit your lifestyle and goals. Book your consultation online to take the first step towards being hair-free.


What are the most common temporary side effects of laser hair removal?

Common temporary side effects of laser hair removal include redness, swelling around follicles, itching, tenderness, hives-like rashes, and small blisters or scabs before treated hairs fall out. These effects typically resolve within 1 week.

What increases your risk of side effects with laser hair removal?

Risk factors for side effects include darker skin tones, sun tans, certain medications, history of scarring, skin conditions like eczema, and treating delicate facial areas. Choosing an expert technician and avoiding sun exposure reduces risks.

How can side effects be minimized with laser hair removal?

To minimize side effects, follow your technician’s aftercare instructions, use cooling creams and antihistamines, exfoliate gently, stay hydrated, use sun protection, and report any prolonged side effects early.

Who is the best candidate for laser hair removal?

The best candidates for laser hair removal are those with lighter skin and darker coarse hair, as the laser targets hair melanin more selectively with less epidermal damage.

What results can be expected long term from laser hair removal?

Most people enjoy up to 90% permanent hair reduction in treated areas when receiving the recommended number of sessions. Smooth, stubble-free skin is achievable long term with minimal upkeep.