Side Effects & Risks with Laser or IPL Hair Removal

Laser hair removal treatment is generally a safe procedure though, as with anything, there are risks and side effects associated with the treatment. Should you experience any side effects you ought to report them to your practioner.

Normal Side Effects of Laser or IPL Hair Removal

It is quite normal for you to experience some minor side effects during and, or after treatment.

  • Swelling around the mouth of treated follicles for around three days.
  • Pain, tingling or numbness.
  • Itching on the treated area.
  • Redness on the treated area for around three days after treatment.

These side effects can be reduced with the aid of the integrated cooling system.

Temporary Side Effects of Laser or IPL Hair Removal

Temporary side effects of laser hair removal can appear soon after treatment and then disappear after a short amount of time. Such side effects range from a few days to a few weeks with at times could possibly be months.

  • Erythema
    • Reddening of the area after treatment
  • Oedema
    • Swelling of the treated area
  • Skin blistering on the treated area.
    • This can be caused by using a higher laser frequency than that for your skin type.
    • Modern cooling devices have reduced the risk of this happening. 
  • Hypo-pigmentation.
    • When the skin lightens, this is mostly seen in those who have had multiple treatments and darker skin types and is only temporary in most cases.
  • Leukotrichia
    • Whitening of the hair
  • Herpes simplex
    • The heat may bring on an attack.

Serious Side Effects of Laser or IPL Hair Removal

There are more serious side-effects which you hopefully won’t experience no matter where in the world you may be. These have a much greater consequence than the normal and temporary side effects, and can cause severe problems if they are not treated correctly.

Scarring on the past this has been one of the worst side effects to get, as scars can be unsightly. The main cause of scarring is the laser itself. An infection after treatment can cause the formation of scar tissue too. Pulsed laser hair removal systems can minimise the risk of getting scars after treatment.


Hyper-pigmentation is the darkening of the skin. This is caused by an increase in the production and deposition of pigment in the skin. You are more likely to develop this if you have tanned or dark skin. The effects are generally only temporary but may last up to a year. Protecting the area from the sun can greatly reduce this risk and bleaching agents may be used to combat this effect.


Burns on treated skin can be a serious side effect but are thankfully quite rare. These can be treated with appropriate wound dressing and aftercare.

Eye injuries due to the laser.

Eye injuries can result because of the laser. Eye safety is imperative when having any kind of laser treatment. Eyewear suitable for the laser wavelength will prevent any eye injuries resulting from direct or indirect laser contact.

Infection of wounds

Infections of wounds only occur when the skin’s epidermis is damaged. Bacteria, viruses and fungi can all cause infection. Antibiotic and antiviral creams should be used after treatment to minimise the risk of getting an infection.

Rare Side Effects of Laser Hair Removal

These are very uncommon but must be taken into consideration.

  • Bruising on treated areas
  • Infection
  • Purpura
    • Purpura is bleeding into the skin and appears as a red/purple rash on the skin. It can be caused by damage to a blood vessel wall. It is usually only temporary, lasting around 3-5 days.
  • Crusting
    • Crusting can occur after treatment with certain types of laser. This is usually caused by over treatment of an area. This can be treated with postoperative care and is recommended if an alexandrite or long-pulsed ruby laser has been used. 
  • Pigmented lesions (lentigines)
    • Freckles may bleach or disappear

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Site Last Updated: 21/08/2018