Rarely, laser hair removal can cause blisters, crusting, scarring, or other changes in skin texture. Other rare side effects include greying of treated hair or excessive hair growth around treated areas, especially on darker skin. So, can laser hair removal cause permanent scarring? In general, scarring is considered to be a rarer side effect of laser hair removal. It's possible, but it doesn't happen often; in some cases, another side effect, such as burns, causes scarring.
Skin damage due to laser hair removal usually occurs at the hands of unqualified professionals. Laser hair removal can be dangerous in inexperienced hands. Burns, permanent changes in skin color, and scarring may occur. You can greatly reduce the risk of potential side effects if your treatment is done by a doctor who is extremely skilled in the use of lasers and has in-depth knowledge of the skin. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends that you choose a board-certified dermatologist to perform laser treatments.
Patients should be advised to return immediately if there is evidence of scarring to allow for early treatment. Scars from laser therapy are treated in a similar way to other types of scars, using topical or intralesional steroids, silicone gel, or silicone sheets. In many cases, ironically, laser rejuvenation may be the best treatment for a scar, even if the cause was a laser treatment itself. Some patients may develop persistent grid or checkerboard patterns after fractional rejuvenation, which may disappear on their own over time, but may also benefit from full-field ablative rejuvenation. Some people call these scars, but they're not exactly the same thing.
Permanent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can create a “burn mark” if a laser was used improperly during hair removal sessions. They can be difficult to reverse (although steps can be taken to try to reduce their appearance).Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is the result of the skin being affected by laser treatment, rather than just the hair follicle. A classic example of this would be the circular spots of hypopigmentation seen after laser hair removal with an alexandrite laser. If you find yourself with a permanent burn or a scar that won't go away after laser hair removal, you should start by contacting your provider. Laser procedures should be performed with great caution, as most laser procedures are performed for aesthetic purposes, which raises the stakes a bit due to patients' high expectations for optimal results.
Testing adjustments on a small area of skin two to three weeks before the main treatment also decreases the likelihood of developing complications; this technique is often used in laser hair removal. Below, you'll find a list of common laser hair removal side effects you can expect from your treatment, along with ways to fix or prevent them. The risk of burns is greater in lasers that use a continuous beam rather than a pulsed or fractionated one. Patients who have undergone laser hair removal for years do not present any problems or long-term health risks. Because of the comparatively high risk of herpes simplex virus (HSV) reactivation after perioral laser rejuvenation procedures, antiviral prophylaxis is recommended for 7 to 14 days after surgery. Doctors and other clinicians should know the risks of complications from laser procedures and know how to treat these complications.
Laser applications in medicine continue to advance with the addition of new devices and the expansion of laser therapy indications. HSV infections after laser procedures must be treated aggressively because of the risk of scarring and bacterial superinfection that accompany them. Today, laser hair removal is a treatment option for patients who have fair hair and skin and for patients who have dark skin. People who are interested in having a laser hair removal treatment should always look for a fully qualified professional to perform the procedure. In the meantime, you can do a lot to prevent the worst side effects of laser hair removal by doing your research and choosing a quality provider.