Laser is a relatively new entrant, as compared to other means of hair removal. The popularity of laser hair removal method is attributed to its speed and efficacy. This procedure is effective for removing hair in a larger area, that too in a very short time. Laser hair removal is often touted as a solution for permanent hair removal, but the FDA has certified it as a mode of permanent hair reduction. While a single session works for some people, others may require repeated sessions to prevent regrowth of hair.
Lasers used for hair removal target only dark matter (hair follicles) in the area, and do not damage the skin. Almost all hair removal lasers identify melanin as the dark target matter. Melanin is the coloring pigment in the skin and the hair. It can be of two types - eumelanin, which is responsible for the black or brown color, and pheomelanin, which gives the red or blonde color. As lasers can detect only the dark matter, removal of red or blonde-colored hair is not done through this method. Lasers are capable of removing black or brown hair, and this hair removal method is best suited for those with a light skin and dark hair. However, this created problems for dark-skinned people, as they suffered skin damage, when exposed to laser. Now, this problem has been solved, as new lasers are introduced for this purpose.
Though considered as a safe option for removing unwanted hair, laser hair removal may cause side effects too. This is mainly due to lack of skills on the part of the practitioner or due to the use of low-quality devices, which are not approved by the FDA. Side effects may vary from person to person. Some people may not experience any side effect, whereas others suffer a lot.
- The most common side effects are swelling, redness and pain. Such adverse effects are more likely to be experienced by people with a sensitive skin. Usually these symptoms subside within two to three days.
- Another problem is skin discoloration, which could be either hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation. Lasers block production of melanin in the skin, resulting in a lighter skin tone, and the condition is called hypopigmentation. In some people, it can cause overproduction of melanin, termed hyperpigmentation. Both the conditions are commonly found in people with darker skin. Most cases of hyperpigmentation are reversible, but hypopigmentation is not reversible.
- Laser hair removal side effects may include burns, which are mostly seen in dark-skinned people, as laser is quickly absorbed by dark skin. Usually, burns caused by laser hair removal are mild, but there have been reports of severe burns too.
- Some embarrassing conditions caused by laser hair removal are regrowth of hair in patches, and blisters. Blisters may also cause pain, apart from the unpleasant appearance.
- There are rare cases of serious side effects, like reticulate erythema, which is characterized by long-lasting redness of the skin resembling a web-like pattern. This is mainly seen in those who have undergone repeated sessions of laser hair removal.
- Another serious side effect is uveitis, which is caused by use of laser for removal of hair in the eyebrows. This condition is caused when the lasers used are of longer wavelength. Uveitis is the inflammation of the uveal tract, which lines the inner side of the eye behind the cornea.
- Blindness is another possible side effect that may occur, if the lasers are used in proximity to the eyes.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert advice.