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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Are there any risks associated with laser hair removal?

    Related Topic
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  • 1


    Dr Ehsan Jadoon

    Cosmetic Physician

    The most common and potentially serious risk associated with Laser Hair removal is by seeing an inexperienced 
    operator who may use too high treatment  settings for your skin type and potentially cause a serious burn. It is advisable to always check the qualification and experience of your service provider. 

  • Dr John Mahony

    Cosmetic Physician

    Dr John Mahony studied Medicine at Sydney University 1980-1984 graduating early 1985. Internship and residency years followed in the Illawarra, covering general medical and surgical … View Profile

    Ehsan is right: the biggest risk is a burn (and resultant hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation).


    Fifteen years ago when I started offering laser hair removal, the lasers were frightfully expensive and much slower than today's devices. Consequently, treatments were much more expensive as well, and so patients were desperate to get as much hair removed as possible, every time, in order to get their result in as absolutely few treatments as possible and control their costs.

    There was pressure, therefore, to “turn up” the laser energy level. Which meant, consequently, that energy levels used were close to risking a burn.


    Today, treatments are vastly less expensive, and the devices faster. There is less imperative to drive the lasers or IPLs to their highest energy levels for absolutely maximum effect every time. There is much more emphasis on treatment tolerability and safety.

    Consequently, far fewer burns occur.


    At my practice, we do laser and IPL hair removal *without anaesthetic cream*. Anaesthetic cream masks the patient's perception of the treatment (naturally!), and thus stops them from telling the therapist if the energy level seems too high. It is almost impossible to burn a patient if the treatment is patient-perceived as comfortably performed without anaesthetic cream.

    Secondly, we aim for the treatment to be perceived at about 4 or 5 out of 10 on a 10 point pain scale. For if a patient has a laser or IPL treatment and feels nothing happening, there's nothing happening! So they must feel *something*. But it should be well tolerable.

    Thirdly, in the case of treating an anxious or sensitive patient, we use Entonox. This relaxes the patient and diminishes their sense of discomfort without stopping them from telling us what they are feeling. Most patients love it, and are grateful.

  • Dr Christina Tan

    Cosmetic Physician

    Look Your Best Without Surgery. Melbourne Cosmetic Medicine is a dedicated cosmetic medical clinic, specialising in non-surgical cosmetic enhancement using the most popular Anti-Wrinkle Injections, … View Profile

    All laser treatments, including laser hair removal comes with risks.

    Make sure the therapist performing the procedure is well trained, and using a TGA approved device. If the energy setting is to low, results will be unsatisfactorily. If the energy setting is too high and aggressive, it can cause burns.

    An experienced therapist will be guided by your skin type, discomfort level and the appearance of the treated areas, and adjust the settings accordingly.

    In patients at higher risk of complications, eg. darker or tanned skin, it maybe advisable to do a 'test patch' in an inconspicuous area first, to gauge response and side effects.

    After laser hair removal, there will be some redness and swelling around the hair follicles in the treated areas, which usually resolves in 24-48 hours. A sunburn sensation is also normal and expected.

    Avoid sun exposure for at least 2 weeks, as the treated areas are more prone to sunburn and pigmentation change.

    See a doctor if you have any unusual crusting or blistering. Applying antibiotic ointment promptly can help avoid infection and scarring.

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