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 hair removal methods, such as shaving and waxing, are tiresome.
Laser hair removal works by impeding the growth of hair follicles and, thus, prevents the development of new hairs. For some, the cost of this procedure is well worth it, as they can stop worrying about undesired hair.
Some people are still reluctant to take that step because they are unsure of the risks involved. If you consider laser hair removal but are afraid of side effects, this article is for you.
Can lasers from hair removal cause cancer?
According to experts, there is no link between laser hair removal treatments and cancer. A well-known myth; lasers and IPL lasers for hair removal do not cause cancer.
When it comes to cancer, the most dangerous type of radiation is ionizing radiation produced by gamma rays and X-rays. That is not to say that getting an X-ray done will give you cancer, but prolonged exposure can. Ionizing radiation causes direct damage to the DNA in a cell and can cause mutations in the DNA, leading to cancer.
The laser used for hair removal, however, uses non-ionizing radiation. This kind of laser works at skin level and does not cause damage to the DNA, and they do not cause mutations in the DNA. The light energy used in these lasers destroys hair follicles by heating them. So, this is why there is no risk of affecting internal organs.
What is the difference between IPL laser and Ionizing radiation?
IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) and ionizing radiation are two different forms of energy. Both have distinct properties and applications.
IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) uses a broad light spectrum with various wavelengths. It is not a laser in the strictest sense but a non-coherent, broad-spectrum light source. IPL is commonly used in cosmetic and dermatological procedures.
IPL is used for laser hair removal, skin rejuvenation, and treatment of skin conditions. IPL targets specific chromophores (color-absorbing molecules) in the skin—for example, melanin in hair follicles or pigmented lesions. The light energy is absorbed, generating heat and the desired therapeutic effect.
Ionizing radiation consists of particles or electromagnetic waves with sufficient energy to ionize atoms. This means it can remove electrons from atoms or molecules.
Ionizing radiation is used in X-rays, gamma rays, and particles like alpha and beta particles. Ionizing radiation has various applications, including medical imaging (X-rays) and cancer treatment (radiation therapy).
It is important to note that while IPL is generally considered safe. Doctors and Dermatologists have been using this technology for over 60 years for cosmetic and dermatological applications.
Ionizing radiation is not safe. This is especially true in high doses. It can pose health risks and requires careful regulation. IPL and Ionizing radiation is not the same thing.
Is there a risk of infertility with laser hair removal?
Because the light energy in the lasers used for this treatment only goes skin-deep and does not affect internal organs, laser hair removal does not affect fertility. Therefore, having hair removed laser near reproductive organs does not involve any additional risk.
This procedure is not recommended during pregnancy simply because there have been no studies on human beings to prove the safety of the treatment during pregnancy.
Are There Any Side Effects?
While removing hair with this laser-based procedure does not have severe side effects like cancer or infertility, it is still a technique involving high-heat lasers. In addition, it can cause minor side effects like skin irritation or blisters.
Let's discuss minor side effects.
Because this procedure works by applying heat to hair follicles to damage them, it is possible to experience skin irritation and some redness around the affected areas. In addition, 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. For example, you might have darker or lighter skin. Usually, you will see darker spots if you have delicate skin and lighter spots if you have darker skin.
These changes, like redness and irritation, should only be temporary. However, you should not expose the affected skin to the sun in the hours following the procedure.
Lets discuss severe side effects
With the proper precautions, severe side effects are rare but could still happen.
Crusting and Blisters
Blister or crusting is typically caused by sun exposure soon after the laser hair removal session. In addition, 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 an infection, you should see your dermatologist and treat the affected area as you would an infected wound.
Because this procedure uses powerful lasers, there is a risk of eye injury. This is specifically true when the laser hair removal device is used on the face.
To prevent damage, the person using the Bareskin device on themselves should wear protective eye equipment for the duration of the session. By wearing eyewear, you can reduce the risk of getting their eyes injured.
Overall, Is Laser Hair Removal Safe?
While some people might experience minor side effects, most people find that the laser hair removal procedure is safe and pain-free. In addition, there are no risks to health in the long term. For instance, this includes cancer. However, a laser device used to remove body hair does not cause cancer.
There should be no injuries if preventive measures have been taken, and people undergoing the treatment take the necessary precautions.
Does it Work?
Yes, laser hair removal does work well. However, while laser hair removal does achieve its intended effect, the absence of hair is rarely permanent. Instead, it might impede hair growth for some time, but the hair will eventually begin to grow again. To avoid hair growing back, most people have touch up sessions. The Bareskin device is perfect for this cause you do not have to revisit the clinic; you can do the laser hair removal touch up in your own home.
For 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 thinner 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. Instead, you can perform the session at your home and use the device whenever needed.
Laser hair removal is a safe and pain-free procedure with almost no risk involved if performed correctly and taken the necessary precautions. Permanent hair removal is not guaranteed, but the hair will grow back weaker and slower and finally fall out.
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)