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Can Laser Hair Reduction cause Cancer?

Laser hair reduction is a new trend nowadays. It has become a really popular solution to get rid of unwanted hair. It is a long-term solution to get rid of unwanted hair. But to understand why people fear that laser can cause cancer you need to understand the mechanism behind laser hair reduction.

What happens in laser hair reduction is that we use a laser beam to target the hair follicles which are basically hair roots. The first step is to shave the target area. Shaving helps expose the hair roots and then the laser machine is used to target the hair follicles. What laser beam actually does is target the melanin present in the hair follicle which arrests hair growth. Therefore, with each progressive session, the hair growth is delayed and eventually it stops growing.  

Now a lot of people fear that this concentrated beam of light might cause cancer. First of all laser treatment does not use light which contains ultraviolet rays which is what triggers skin cancer. The laser light does not penetrate deep into the skin it only works superficially. You need multiple sessions because hair follicles on the skin are in different stages of growth. Therefore, it requires multiple sessions to get rid of hair completely. 

Now let us talk about lasers, they are radiation and they are of a safe kind. The lasers used for hair reduction consist of non-ionizing radiation which produces a laser beam created to target the hair follicle and nothing else. But laser treatments are not limited to just laser hair reduction other treatments include tattoo removal, skin rejuvenation, skin resurfacing, Lasik surgery, etc all these treatments use non-ionizing lasers. In fact, it is also used in the treatment of cancer itself.

The radiation that is capable of causing cancer is called ionizing radiation and they are generally present in X-rays and gamma rays. These may be carcinogenic in nature and can cause cancer because they have high-frequency ionizing radiation. Yet we use X-rays to capture images of our bones. What actually happens when ionizing radiation enters the body, is that it reaches at the cellular level where it can alter the DNA and may cause the cell to lose contact inhibition which can trigger the cell to mutate and become cancerous. But lasers used for laser hair reduction do not have this ability. 

The US FDA states that these lasers do not have the ability to trigger cells in our body to become cancerous. Moreover, there is not enough research done to back the claim that the long-term effects of laser can cause cancer or increase the risk of cancer. In addition to laser hair removal, laser therapy is used for other cosmetic purposes like tattoo removal, dental procedures, varicose veins, prostate and eye surgery, removal of kidney stones, etc. In fact, it is also used for treating cancer.         

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Laser hair reduction vs. Electrolysis

What is Electrolysis?

Electrolysis is a method that destroys the growth of hair with either chemicals or heat. The hair root is destroyed with the help of a thin wire which is inserted into the hair follicle that destroys the hair root. The damaged follicle does not grow any more hair and existing hair falls out. Most areas of the body can be treated with electrolysis, including the face, eyebrows, thighs, breasts, and legs.

This method of hair removal works well with all skin types and all types of hair colors. It is also safe and suitable for people with conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome. The hair growth significantly decreases over successive sessions and some people might see no growth at all. Electrolysis is actually a slower method of hair removal and the results may take time which also differs from individual to individual. The benefits of electrolysis include results that last long, no downtime required, and no use of any kind of chemicals that may harm the skin.

The pros of electrolysis:

  • It is permanent and recognized as a permanent hair removal method by FDA.
  • It can be used to remove hair from almost all body parts.
  • The treatment time and the gap between treatments also reduce over time as the hair growth reduces.

The cons of electrolysis:

  • Electrolysis is a lot more expensive as compared to other modes of hair removal.
  • The time for treatments and sessions is really long in the electrolysis treatment it can take as long as 18-22 months to completely get rid of all the hair.
  • Can irritate the skin because the electrologist goes back to the same hair follicle again and again. It can cause whiteheads and scabs in the treated area. It can also cause pigmentation and scarring.
  • The treatment can be painful and cause a stinging sensation
  • This treatment is not suitable for everyone.

What is laser hair reduction?

Laser hair reduction is not permanent but gets rid of 90 percent of your hair, leaving only 10 percent of really fine, barely discernible hair. Basically, the laser light attacks the hair follicles which arrests the growth of the hair follicle and puts it in a dormant state. Even if the hair manages to grow back it will be really fine, lighter, and few.

The laser uses heat beams to damage the hair follicles. These follicles are just beneath the skin and are responsible for hair growth. The heat generated by the beam is used to burn the hair follicle which arrests their growth cycle. The laser beam also targets melanin (a pigment) present in the hair follicle making it lighter. It basically reduces the intensity of the pigment.

When the procedure of laser hair reduction is done properly it can become a more long-term solution when you compare it to the usual methods of hair removal like waxing, shaving, or using hair removal creams. Laser hair reduction is most effective for people which darker thicker hair in which case they may require a few sittings before they see a complete result.

The pros of laser hair reduction:

  • The cost of laser hair reduction may seem expensive at first glance but it is actually not. The amount of money people spend in general on temporary solutions like waxing accumulates to a lot more money than the money spent on laser hair reduction which is a long-term solution for unwanted hair.
  • Laser hair reduction can be used on most parts of the body
  • The pain is really minimal as most people express a slight stinging sensation which is usually not painful. 
  • You start to see results right after the first session there is at least 10 to 25 percent of less hair growth. 
  • It usually has very mild side effects discomfort and slight swelling in the affected areas which go down in 24 hours

The cons of laser hair reduction:

  • It takes time but it does not take as long as electrolysis which takes months. Laser hair reduction takes up to 5-6 sessions to see a 95% reduction in hair growth. 
  • It is not entirely permanent. Even after six sessions, one might require a yearly maintenance treatment for small baby hair which is generally not visible. 
  • It is not advised for pregnant people. 
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Laser hair reduction with PCOS

PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. This condition generally affects hormones and is characterized by irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth, acne, and infertility. In PCOS, the ovaries secrete an abnormal amount of androgens which is present more in males and in lesser quantities in females. This imbalance in hormones is what causes cystic ovaries. Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that are present in the ovary. But not everyone with PCOS develops cysts in their ovaries. It is one of the most common causes of infertility in women and it can also increase your risk for other health conditions.

 Ovulation is an essential part of the menstrual cycle and women with PCOS have a problem in this process that results in cyst formation. These cysts then start secreting androgens. A woman can get PCOS at any time after puberty. Most people are diagnosed in their twenties and thirties usually around the time they try to get pregnant. A woman has a higher chance of getting PCOS if they are obese or overweight. 

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown. But genetics and environmental factors play a role in triggering it. Several factors play a role in causing PCOS for example high levels of androgens, insulin resistance, and low-grade inflammation. 

The symptoms of the polycystic ovarian syndrome include irregular periods, acne, obesity, pigmentation, cysts, skin tags, thinning hair, infertility, and abnormal growth of hair. There is excessive growth of facial hair and heavy growth on the arms, chest, and abdomen. 

A lot of women suffer from the physical symptoms of PCOS like weight gain, acne, and excessive hair growth. Problems like excessive hair that grow on the body can be treated with treatments like laser hair reduction.

How does laser hair reduction work with PCOS?

Different light base technologies are used for hair reduction treatment. What happens during a treatment is that bright flashes of light are exposed to hair follicles. The pigment present in the hair called melanin absorbs this light which effectively destroys it. Once that happens these hair follicles are arrested in their growth cycles and the hair stops growing in that area. Multiple sessions for laser hair reduction are required because hair is in different stages of growth therefore it requires multiple sessions to reduce it to 90 percent. This is ideal for people who suffer from excess hair growth from PCOS. They can get rid of unwanted hair once and for all.     

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Does Laser Hair Reduction have side effects?

Laser hair reduction uses a concentrated beam of light to target the hair roots (also known as the hair follicles). The hair reduction procedure involves using a laser that emits light that is absorbed by the hair follicles. There is a pigment present in the hair follicles known as melanin which absorbs light and destroys the hair follicle which stops the hair from growing. 

People opt for laser hair reduction to get rid of unwanted hair. The most common areas where they treat are the arms, legs, underarms, chin, upper lip, and the bikini line. Nearly any area can be treated for laser hair reduction except areas that have tattoos and raised scars. The basic principle of laser hair reduction is that it works to target the pigment in the hair follicle not the pigment of the skin. Therefore, it only damages the pigment in the hair follicle and does not damage the skin.

The idea is for laser hair reduction to be a long-term solution to get rid of unwanted hair by stopping the hair follicles from growing new hair. The hair and a person’s skin type affect the success of laser hair reduction. The contrast between the color of the skin and the color of the hair is important because the laser targets the pigment in the hair. Therefore, laser hair reduction is ideal for people who have dark hair. It is not effective for hair that is light in color because it has little to no pigment which the laser can’t target. 

The possible side effects of laser hair reduction:

Redness and irritation

The hair follicles are damaged by laser and this elicits a reaction from the body which results in some irritation and redness in the area on which the treatment was done. The skin will feel warm, tingly, and tender. These symptoms are usually short-lived and can be dealt with by using a topical anesthetic before the treatment or using ice packs after the treatment. 


Some people experience crusting of skin on the area of treatment. It is a minor issue but nothing to worry about. There may be some dry skin and scabbing but that can be taken care of by applying moisturizer regularly. 


Sometimes after a laser hair reduction procedure when the hair is shaved and then treated with a laser; the dead hair beneath the epidermis starts to surface and shed and sometimes this causes tiny bumps known as folliculitis and which happens when the skin is irritated. This can be simply treated with a topical antibiotic cream.

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Things to know before signing up for laser treatments

Before signing up for laser hair reduction

We all know about the pain of getting waxing done every month. Smooth, soft, and hairless skin is something that everybody likes. But going to the salon every month to endure pain only to enjoy a few days’ worth of hairless skin (let us be honest hair starts to grow back on the third day after waxing) can be a pain. That is why human beings found a way to get rid of hair once and for all Laser hair reduction.

In laser hair reduction, the laser targets the pigment in the hair bulb which heats up and destroys the follicle from which the hair grows, therefore, arresting the growth of the hair follicle. But the thing is that this is not a one-time process since every hair follicle is at a different stage of the growth cycle. You might need about 6-8 sessions to get the results you want. So do not expect instant results. It is also important to use sunscreen after your sessions.

Before getting a laser facial

Laser facials use a patented device that exfoliates, cleanses, and hydrates the skin. In addition, laser facials also treat problems like acne, acne scars, pigmentation, enlarged pores, melasma, fine lines, and wrinkles. It also uses chemical peels to lighten and brighten the skin. Some key benefits of laser facials are that it works on all skin types, outcomes are always consistent and immediate, and finally, no downtime is needed.

But you do need to take some due care before and after the facials like ceasing the use of retinoids, avoiding exposure to sunlight, and stopping acne medications at least two weeks before the treatment. It is essential to use sunscreen after the facial to protect the skin from harmful sun rays.

 Before chemical peel treatment

Chemical peels remove the topmost layer of the skin that contains dead skin cells to reveal the healthy layer of skin underneath. There are three types of peel light, medium, and deep. They bring out healthy skin underneath the dead skin.

Before getting a chemical peel treatment, stop using topical retinol (tretinoin or retin-A) at least two weeks before the treatment. It is vital to inform your specialist about any medications you are taking. Some of the common temporary side effects include redness, irritation, dryness, stinging, burning, and slight swelling. It is necessary to apply sunscreen religiously after the treatment. It protects the skin from the harmful rays of the sun.

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LHR vs. Waxing/Razor

Why choose laser hair reduction over waxing/razor?

1. Save money in the long run

Laser Hair Reduction is a permanent solution for body hair that costs more than getting waxing done at once but if you will calculate the amount you spend every month on waxing that automatically costs 100 times more than LHR.

2. Save your time

One session of Laser Hair Reduction takes around 30 minutes for one part of the body which is almost equal to getting waxing done but LHR gives you permanent relief from body hair whereas waxing is a temporary solution. After laser hair removal treatment, you no longer have to spend time shaving or going to appointments to get the hair waxed. You will have clean smooth skin without the hassle of shaving or waxing.

3. Get rid of ingrown hair

Laser Hair Reduction Treatment damages hair follicles within the skin that produce hairs. This damage inhibits or delays future hair growth whereas waxing plucks body hair from inside the skin after a period of time hair follicles produce new hair which might result in ingrown hair and strawberry legs in some cases. LHR is a good option to choose if your skin gets ingrown hairs or strawberry legs after waxing.

4. Get painless hair reduction

Laser Hair Reduction is a completely painless process. The laser beam used in the process gives a sensation like tickling but it does not affect the skin or give any harm or pain

5. It’s a permanent solution

Most people see permanent, lasting results with laser hair reduction. In some cases, people may need a touch-up after a few months or years, but it is the best long-term solution to get rid of body hair.  

How does Laser Hair Reduction Work?

Laser hair removal is a procedure that uses a concentrated beam of light (laser) that is absorbed by the pigment melanin in the hair. The light energy then converts into heat, which damages the sacs within the skin (hair follicles) that produce hairs. Most people have permanent hair loss after an average of three to six sessions. A cooling gel mechanism is applied to the skin before starting the laser treatment to protect the skin from getting harmed. 

Laser Hair Treatment does not have any side effects; the only skin problem people face after the treatment is mild redness which goes away after a few hours. In some situations, you cannot take laser hair reduction treatments which are metal implants inside the body, pregnancy, nursing, and people with a history of keloid scars.