Can you second-degree burns from laser hair removal procedures?

Yes, you can! Depend on two factors:

  • Who operates the laser, and
  • What light-based device is used

Contemporary lasers use skin cooling to protect the top layer of the skin (epidermis) during treatment, thus lowering the risk for burns. Few laser do not require any skin cooling and are relatively painless. It is not unusual to experience redness, mild pain and swelling after laser-assisted hair removal.

Second-degree burns, severe pain, and blistering of the skin are very uncommon these days. However, sensitivity to the treatment can vary from person to person. Speak with your physician to discuss realistic expectations and potential side effects prior to any procedure. Educate yourself about different types of lasers before you schedule a “free consultation” with a laser technician. If the front desk person cannot answer simple questions about the lasers or IPLs they use – check out another laser clinic and ask around to get you questions answered. It is important to visit a physician (family doctor, dermatologist or plastic surgeon) with advanced training in the use of light-based devices (lasers and IPLs) for medically related cosmetic procedures. Ask to see “before and after” pictures and find out what side effects you may expect.

When discussing laser-assisted hair removal, you may hear names of devices with differing wavelengths and power, including ruby (RubyStar, Sinon); alexandrite (Apogee, Epitouch Alex, Gentlelase); Diode (LightSheer); intense pulsed light (IPL); Q-switched Nd:YAG; and Long-pulsed Nd:YAG lasers. There are others, but what’s important to know is how they will work for you. These factors can impact your results:

  • Skin color (light or darker) – fair-skinned individuals with darker hair may have better results, but even very skin types can be very effectively treated with Nd:YAG lasers
  • Hair color (dark, blond, red, grey) – darker hair has more pigment and can be treated more effectively and faster; in contrast blond or grey hair is difficult to remove due to lack of pigment
  • Thickness of hair (fine, dense) – minor factor for the newest lasers but can be an issue with low-power lasers
  • Location of hair (face, back, bikini line) – the legs will take a lot longer to treat than facial hair
  • Whether or not the area of unwanted hair is tanned – only Nd:YAG can handle tanned skin, you may have to wait or bleach the skin prior to laser hair removal treatment
  • Presense of any moles, surgical scars or tattoos in the area to be treated – if you have a tattoo under the hair the treatment will be a lot more painful, multiple sessions will be required and your tattoo will fade
  • Previous methods of hair removal – your body may develop resistance to light-based treatments if you have had low power or IPL treatments before
  • Medical conditions contributing to the hair growth (thyroid disease, polycystic ovarian disease, others)
  • Any current evidence of infection (such as herpes simplex or bacterial infection) would need to be treated prior to a laser procedure.
  • Additionally, you need to avoid tanning and/or sunless tanners, waxing, plucking or electrolysis of the hair in the region under consideration for laser hair removal.

Lasers use beam high power light that is absorbed by the dark pigment (melanin) in the shaft of the hair follicle, causing it to vaporize. Over time (often every 4 to 8 weeks) and through multiple treatments (usually 6 to 9, but this varies as hair grows in cycles) there’s a reduction in hair growth in the treated area. And, if this hair does regrow, it tends to be lightly pigmented with a very fine texture. Minor side effects are common, including a very brief burning or stinging sensation during treatment as well as redness, mild discomfort and minimal swelling for one to five days after treatment.

All other hair removal options, such as shaving, bleaching, plucking or tweezing, and chemical depilatories are commonly used for unwanted hair on the face, eyebrows and bikini area, while inexpensive on a per treatment basis, are painful and all hair regrows in a matter of days or weeks. Side effects may include skin irritation, burning, and in some cases, scarring.

Eflornithine 13.9 percent cream is available by prescription and is often used for unwanted facial and neck hair. It needs to be used on a daily basis to prevent regrowth. This product may also enhance the effectiveness of laser-assisted hair removal in women with facial hair.

Electrolysis involves destruction of the growth center of hair follicle with heat or chemical energy delivered through a hair-thin electrical probe. This technique can be used on different areas of the body, especially the face. Multiple treatments are often involved and can be very effective for permanent hair removal.

Threading involves twisting cotton threads around rows of hair in order to pull them out. This technique offers a hair-free period that may last up to several weeks. It is often used on eyebrows.

Sugaring involves the application of a paste made from sugar, lemon and water. While results are similar to waxing, it is usually less painful as the paste sticks to the hair, not the skin. It is often used to remove hair located on the face and other sensitive areas. comment

Calculate what you have spent over the years, estimate how much you will spend on hair removal in the years to come, and you will realize that laser hair removal is the most economical, time saving and effective way to get rid of unwanted hair.