A review of the adverse effects of laser hair removal

Lasers Med Sci. 2006 Sep;21(3):121-5. doi: 10.1007/s10103-006-0377-y. Epub 2006 Jul 1.


Laser hair removal is ever increasing in popularity. Technology is fast advancing, and there are increasingly excessive commercial claims that laser hair removal in all skin types is free of side effects. The aim of this study is to review the evidence from published literature regarding the incidence of adverse effects after laser and light systems for hair removal. A review of the current published literature on the ill effects reported after laser/light-assisted depilation was conducted. Overall incidence of adverse effects after laser/light hair removal appears to be low, with very uncommon permanent sequelae. The two largest studies to date have shown that acute and transient side effects do occur. Higher incidence of pigmentary alterations is associated with the shorter wavelength lasers (up to 19%), particularly with darker skin types, compared with lower incidence using the neodymium-yttrium-aluminium-garnet laser (2-3%). Both studies did not show any long-term side effects or scarring. Laser/light hair removal, carried out by trained professionals, is a safe procedure with a very low incidence of permanent sequelae. The majority of adverse effects are transient and minor. They are more common in darker skin. Longer wavelength devices reduce the risk in darker skin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Hair Removal / adverse effects*
  • Hirsutism / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lasers / adverse effects*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Diseases / etiology*