Can Laser Hair removal Cause Cancer?

May 21, 2019





When we perform a Laser Hair Reduction procedure, we are actually treating the hair follicle for its black colour.The best time to undergo this procedure when the hair are in their growth phase ( aka anagen phase) which results in long term hair reduction. The pigment that is available in the hair follicle called melanin is being targeted by the laser light. Depending on how thick the hair is, the pigment present in that hair is much more in thicker hair compared to a fine hair. So, when the laser bombards a hair follicle, the pigment in that hair follicle is seen absorbing the light, and the follicle gets dissolved by the laser.

Lasers are being used to remove undesired hair, resurface the skin in order to remove scars, wrinkles and boost collagen. But are they really safe? This is the question that goes on in numerous minds. Let’s try to answer this question here.


Firstly, it's important to understand what lasers are. They are radiation of a safe variety. Laser therapy generate a non-ionizing radiation and produce a fine laser beam which in laser hair removal is used to kill the hair follicle. This therapy can also be used to remove tattoos, plump up the skin and is also used commonly in dental treatments, treatment for varicose veins, skin and eye surgeries and as a treatment for skin cancer.


The type of radiation coming out from lasers is also known as non-ionising radiation. This is totally different from ionising radiation from nuclear sources and X-rays which are known to be carcinogenic or cancer-causing. In terms of cancer risk, X-rays and gamma rays are the most dangerous and are known as high-frequency ionising radiation. Yet, X-rays are used even today to take pictures of our bones.


The important thing is that when any kind of ionising radiation passes through our bodies, it may cause direct damage to our cell’s DNA and might lead to cancer later on. This doesn’t happen when lasers only pass through the layers of our skin. The US Food and Drug Administration, FDA has clarified that the light energy from these lasers does not penetrate deep into the skin. The laser beam remains superficially at the level of the skin and these lasers cannot cause DNA damage and DNA mutations, which are changes in DNA, linked to cancer.

The pulse of light energy used in all laser hair removal treatments, for example, are only designed to zap and destroy hair follicles. A few women have shown concerns about using these lasers for getting a hairless bikini line around their reproductive organs, but experts assure that there is no risk for cancer.

Experts also clarify that the light from lasers does not go beyond the hair follicle to the internal organs which ensures that fertility is also not affected. There is some redness and scarring in treated areas after laser therapy which can easily be treated by using remedies like cold milk, icing and gels.

Lasers are claimed to be safe because laser therapy does not use the ultraviolet rays which is found in sunlight - UVA and UVB, both of these can cause  skin cancer.

Having said all this, it is incumbent upon us to deliver a warning. Since the long-term risk of cancer due to lasers has not been studied so far, it would be advisable to say that those with a family history of skin cancers should stay away from cosmetic laser treatments for their safety. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult Dermatologist.


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