Do you have unwanted facial or body hair? If so, you may know the benefits of laser hair removal – it is precise, fast, and in some cases can lead to a permanent reduction in hair growth. But what about risk and side effects? Here are answers to all laser hair removal problems.

Does laser hair removal cause cancer?

Laser hair removal is generally considered safe, and medical lasers are approved for hair removal use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States. With that being said, hair removal laser machines do expose the body to radiation, which can cause cancer when the body is exposed in high levels for long periods of time.

Luckily, the types of lasers used for hair removal are relatively safe compared with higher-risk X-rays and gamma rays. Hair-removal treatments use what the FDA calls “non-ionizing radiation,” meaning the laser does not pass through the body and cause damage to your cells.

In other words, the light from a standard Nd:YAG or Alexandrite laser only acts superficially, making it unlikely that it will cause DNA damage or cell mutations.

Does laser hair removal hurt more than waxing?

Most treatments for removing unwanted hair are painful to a certain degree. While many people describe the pain of waxing as a stinging, burning sensation, laser hair removal feels more like having a rubber band snapped on the skin over and over. Whether it’s more painful than waxing comes down to a person’s individual tolerance to pain and the specific area treated.

The great part about laser hair removal compared to at-home waxing is that you’ll be treated by a skilled laser technician. He or she will use a numbing cream to help minimize pain and discomfort. This is especially useful in more sensitive areas, such as the bikini line.

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Can laser hair removal cause nerve damage?

Your hair follicles are filled with fine nerve endings, which is why waxing and other hair removal techniques have a reputation for being painful. During any permanent procedure, the nerve endings are removed alongside the follicles.

Although this seems a bit scary, it’s actually perfectly safe and is unlikely to cause any long-term adverse effects. The good news is that your hair is on the exterior of your body, and as we mentioned before, most cosmetic lasers are classified as non-ionizing, which means that they won’t penetrate very deep or potentially cause nerve damage.

Can laser hair removal affect my skin tone?

Again, the last thing you want to happen to you during or after laser therapy is worsened skin. Lasers are known to stimulate melanin production, which can cause a darkening effects. In some cases, the lasers work to suppress melanin production, which can cause the skin to lighten. This is one reason why laser toning is often recommended as a skin-lightening treatment.

People with darker skin are more likely to experience laser burns, since darker pigments absorb light more easily. Luckily, this issue is temporary and usually resolves itself within just a few days.

Laser treatments can also cause the skin to be more sensitive to the sun and UV damage, so wearing a good-quality sunscreen daily after treatment is vital.

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Does laser hair removal affect fertility or pregnancy?

One of the most common misconceptions associated with laser hair removal is that it can cause infertility, especially when it’s used along the bikini area and other body parts associated with the reproductive system.

Luckily, this is simply not true, and is downright impossible. Lasers only penetrate the skin at less than a millimeter, so they’re far away from your ovaries or reproductive organs!

So what about pregnancy? In general, laser hair removal is considered safe during pregnancy, but most doctors and technicians caution against the procedure just to be extra-safe.

The American Pregnancy Association recommends avoiding the treatment and other less-studied cosmetic procedures simply because there hasn’t been enough research into the possible effect on the fetus. For the best possible results, wait until after you’ve given birth to get rid of that stubborn hair growth!

Is laser hair removal safe for all skin tones?

Your skin tone has a lot to do with which type of laser a professional will recommend. Some lasers are more effective on light skin, while others are best-suited for darker skin. However, things have evolved significantly in recent years, and new technologies have made it simpler to treat people with a range of different skin tones.

In the past, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and other ethnic groups were discouraged from seeking laser treatments because older lasers had a tendency to damage or lighten darker skin and cause irreversible pigmentation issues.

With that being said, those who have dark hair and dark skin are more likely to have coarser hair growth, which can make laser hair removal more painful. A good specialist or technician will work with you to determine which specific type of laser is most appropriate for your skin color.