Can You Get Skin Cancer From Laser Hair Removal?
Short Answer - NO, you cannot get skin cancer from laser hair removal.
Laser hair removal has become a popular alternative for those who feel like traditional methods of hair removal, such as shaving and waxing, are tiresome.
Laser hair removal works by impeding the growth of hair follicles and, thus, prevents the growth of new hairs. For some, the cost of this procedure is well worth it, as they can stop worrying about their fuzz for a long time.
That said, there are some people who are still reluctant to take that step because they are unsure of the risks involved. If you are considering laser hair removal but are afraid of side effects, here’s what you need to know.
Can Laser Hair Removal Cause Cancer?
According to experts, there is no link between laser hair removal treatments and cancer.
When it comes to cancer, the most dangerous type of radiation is ionizing radiation, which is produced by gamma rays and X-rays. That is not to say that getting an X-ray done will give you cancer, but that prolonged exposure can.
Ionizing radiation causes direct damage to the DNA in a cell and can cause mutations in the DNA, which then lead to cancer.
The laser used for hair removal, however, uses non-ionizing radiation. They work at skin level and do not cause damage to the DNA and thy do not cause mutations in the DNA. The light energy used in these types of laser are designed to destroy hair follicles by heating them. This is why there is no risk of affecting internal organs.
Is There Risk of Infertility with Laser Hair Removal?
Because the light energy in the lasers used for this treatment only go skin-deep and do not affect internal organs, laser hair removal has no effect on fertility. Having hair removed by laser near reproductive organs does not involve any additional risk.
That said, this procedure is not recommended during pregnancy, simply because there have been no studies made on human beings to prove the safety of the treatment during a pregnancy.
Are There Any Side Effects?
While removing hair with this laser-based procedure does not have any serious side effects like cancer or infertility, it is still a technique involving high-heat lasers and can cause side effects like skin irritation.
Minor Side Effects
Because this procedure work by applying heat to hair follicles in order to damage them, it is possible to experience skin irritation and some redness around the affected areas. The skin might feel slightly swollen, but these symptoms should not last long.
It should feel no different than if you’ve just waxed the same area. You can apply ice packs to help reduce the swelling and soothe the skin. If the symptoms persist beyond a few hours after the procedure, you should call your doctor.
Changes in Pigmentation
After a laser hair removal session, you might notice some changes in the pigmentation of your skin in the affected area. You might have darker or lighter skin. Usually, you will see darker spots if you have light skin, and lighter spots if you have darker skin.
These changes, like redness and irritation, should only be temporary. That said, you should not expose the affected skin to the sun in the hours following the procedure.
Severe Side Effects
With the proper precautions, severe side effects are rare but could still happen.
Crusting and Blisters
This is typically caused by sun exposure soon after the laser hair removal session. Crusting can sometimes lead to scarring if your skin is prone to it.
You can generally avoid these side effects by using moisturizer in the treated area after a session and avoiding sun exposure for a few hours after the procedure.
Like almost all hair removal methods, such as waxing, laser hair removal can increase the risk of skin infection.
If you see signs of an infection, you should see your dermatologist and treat the affected area as you would an infected wound.
Because this procedure uses powerful lasers, the risk of a serious eye injury is present, especially when the treatment is being applied to the dace.
To prevent an injury, both the practitioner and the person undergoing the procedure should wear protective eye equipment for the duration of the session. This reduces the risk of getting their eyes injured.
Overall, Is Laser Hair Removal Safe?
While there are some people who might experience minor side effects, most people find that the laser hair removal procedure is quite safe and pain-free. There are no risks to health in the long-term, and there should be no injuries if preventive measures are taken and people undergoing the treatment take the necessary precautions.
Does it Work?
While laser hair removal does achieve its intended effect, the absence of hair is rarely permanent. It might impede hair growth for a long while, but hair will eventually begin to grow again.
This can be prevented by having touch-up sessions. However, even if you decide that you are done with the procedure, the hair will grow back weaker, lighter, and finer.
For the hair removal to be effective, it requires several sessions —most experts recommend at least six sessions. Hair can grow back in between sessions but it will be much weaker than before, until it may eventually stop growing.
With the Bareskin device in your hand, you no longer need to go to any laser hair removal clinic. You can perform the session at your home and use the device whenever needed.
Laser hair removal is a safe and pain-free procedure that has almost no risk involved if performed correctly and the necessary precautions are taken. Permanent hair removal is not a guarantee but the hair will grow back weaker and slower.
While there are some possible minor side effects after each session, there is no risk of it causing cancer or infertility. However, should the minor side effects like irritation and redness last for more than a few hours after the procedure, you should see a doctor.
Medically reviewed by: Dr. Robert Walters MD (Dermatologist)