Can Laser Hair Removal Cause Changes in Skin Pigmentation?

Laser hair removal is a popular cosmetic procedure that uses laser technology to treat and remove unwanted hair from various parts of the face and body. It can cause darkening or lightening of the affected skin, which can be temporary or permanent. Skin lightening mainly affects people who don't avoid sun exposure before or after treatment and people who have darker skin. So, can laser hair removal darken the skin? If the laser hair treatment is performed correctly, a risk such as darkening of the skin rarely arises. However, in inexperienced hands that use machines or the wrong settings, the skin can produce a dark pigment as a defense mechanism against heat.

Prolonged exposure to the sun before and after treatment can also cause darkening of the skin. The laser hair removal technique uses high temperature lasers, which can cause immediate effects such as skin irritation and pigmentation. Hyperpigmentation after laser hair removal may be due to the skin's reaction to the energy or heat of the laser. Most of the time, hyperpigmentation after laser hair removal is temporary and resolves on its own. It usually lasts for one to two months after treatment.

However, if the hyperpigmentation is persistent or you cannot wait for it to disappear due to time constraints, hydroquinone-based products can be used to quickly lighten pigmented areas. For more sensitive areas, such as the armpits, bikini and inner thighs, hydroquinone-free skin lightening products, such as tranexamic acid, may be recommended to prevent skin irritation that can worsen hyperpigmentation. The best way to determine how to treat hyperpigmentation caused by laser hair removal treatment is to consult with a board-certified medical professional who has the knowledge and experience necessary to recommend the most appropriate products and treatments for your situation. Yes, laser hair removal can worsen hyperpigmentation in some cases. Permanent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can create a “burn mark” if the laser was used improperly during hair removal sessions. Blackheads that appear after laser hair removal are called “post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation” and occur when laser treatment damages the hair follicle and surrounding skin.

This results in an increase in the production of melanin, which is the pigment that gives color to the skin. The increase in melanin makes affected areas appear darker than the surrounding skin. Post-laser hyperpigmentation can occur due to skin inflammation caused by the laser device, especially when inappropriate settings or types of lasers are selected to treat a patient. Laser hair removal will not work on patients whose treatment areas are tattooed or on patients with blonde, red or white hair. Depending on the area of the body that is hyperpigmented by laser treatment, there are several different creams and modalities for lightening the skin that are used to treat hyperpigmentation after the laser. Unfortunately, in many states, laser treatments are not regulated and there are many spas and clinics that have untrained and unauthorized assistants who perform laser hair removal. It is important to consult with a qualified professional before undergoing laser hair removal treatment.

There are some side effects of laser hair removal such as skin discoloration after laser treatment, itching, redness and swelling around the treated area but these side effects don't last long - in fact they don't last longer than two or three days.

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