Does laser hair removal cause cancer?

There has been much debate around whether laser hair removal can potentially cause cancer. While some were concerned about the light and heat exposure, extensive research and studies have found the procedure to be very safe when performed correctly. With FDA approval of devices and oversight of qualified medical professionals, laser hair removal does not appear to increase cancer risk according to the wide body of evidence collected.

Unravelling the Myths and Facts

Laser hair removal has long been surrounded by myths regarding its safety. As with any cosmetic procedure, it’s understandable to have concerns about potential long-term health risks like cancer. Let’s take an in-depth look at the scientific evidence to separate fact from fiction.

Lasers work by targeting the melanin pigment in the hair follicle to disable future hair growth. Some believe this could damage surrounding skin cells and promote cancer over time. However, the technology and precautions used have come a long way.

How Laser Hair Removal Works

How Laser Hair Removal Works

Laser and light-based devices emit pulses of targeted energy absorbed by melanin. This heat damage destroys the bulb portion of the hair follicle that produces new hairs. Multiple sessions spaced 4-6 weeks apart are typically needed to gradually reduce hair regrowth over several months.

Lasers UsedWavelengthTargeted Pigment
Alexandrite755 nmMelanin in hair/skin
Diode800-810 nm, 940 nmMelanin in hair
Nd:YAG1064 nmMelanin in hair
IPL (Intense Pulsed Light)400-1200 nmMelanin and hemoglobin in hair/skin

Modern lasers are carefully calibrated to safe levels and deliver controlled thermal damage just to the hair follicle, minimizing risks to surrounding tissue. Thorough cooling ensures skin protection as well.

Addressing Cancer Concerns

The main concern is whether laser hair removal exposes skin to excessive heat damaging DNA and promoting skin cancers like melanoma over many years. However, extensive research finds the risk to be very low or nonexistent when performed properly by a qualified provider.

What Research Reveals

The FDA has extensively investigated laser safety based on scientific studies. They have approved certain laser and light devices for hair removal after review found no increased cancer risk when used as directed. Some key findings:

  • Lasers do not emit ionizing radiation linked to DNA damage and cancer like X-rays. The targeted energy is non-ionizing and different from UV rays.
  • Temperatures induced in the skin are not high enough or prolonged enough to cause harm, staying well below damage thresholds.
  • No significant changes were seen in skin cell DNA, proliferation or appearance even after many laser sessions long-term.
  • No statistically higher rates of skin cancers have been found in patients who underwent laser hair removal versus those who did not.

So in summary, when performed properly by a qualified practitioner using FDA-cleared equipment, laser hair removal carries very minimal risk – likely much lower than frequent shaving or waxing which can cause microscopic cuts exposing skin to pathogens or trauma with each use over decades.

Other Safety Considerations

A few rare side effects are possible like temporary redness, swelling or blistering. Using an approved cooling device, limiting the number of laser pulses and operator experience can help prevent these. People with darker skin types are also at a slightly higher risk of burns due to heightened pigment absorption, so extra care should be taken.

People undergoing any cosmetic procedure should also consider their own medical history and medications, stopping certain drugs that could increase photosensitivity before a session. Speak to your provider about any specific health concerns to ensure the treatment plan is customized for your needs.

The Role of FDA Approval

The FDA subjects lasers to rigorous pre-market testing and clearance processes to evaluate safety and effectiveness. Only certain devices meeting strict scientific standards for minimally-invasive, low-risk procedures are ultimately approved for hair removal and other cosmetic uses.

Manufacturers must prove the technology delivers intended results without evidence of harm based on clinical data over many subjects and years of use. Ongoing adverse event monitoring helps ensure quality, performance and compliance with labeling over the medical device’s lifetime as well.

Does laser hair removal cause cancer?

When performed properly by an experienced, licensed provider using FDA-cleared equipment as indicated, the vast evidence to date shows laser hair removal carries minimal risk and no significant increased cancer risk compared to alternatives like shaving or waxing. People should feel empowered to reduce unwanted hair through this safe and effective method.

Reduced risk of skin cancer from laser hair removal

Reduced risk of skin cancer from laser hair removal

Some research has even suggested laser hair removal may provide some protection against skin cancers by detecting and treating pre-cancerous lesions or abnormalities during regular sessions. Careful examination of the skin before each treatment allows providers to spot changes over time and ensure prompt dermatological evaluation or biopsy as needed.

If ever in any doubt you should speak to your treatment provider

Open communication with your provider is key to personalized care. Discuss any concerns you have about long-term safety openly so they address your questions and customize treatments accordingly. A reputable office should make your health and comfort their top priority every step of the way.

How to book your consultation and what happens during your first visit?

Call or book online to schedule an initial consultation where you can learn more about the process, discuss your goals, and see if you’re a good candidate. The provider will examine your skin, determine which laser is appropriate based on your pigment, help manage expectations and answer any final questions. A patch test may be done to confirm you can tolerate the treatment safely before the first full session. Subsequent follow up visits treat targeted areas until the desired results are achieved. Renewed confidence awaits.


Laser hair removal has become a widely popular method for hair reduction due to its effectiveness and convenience. However, many myths and safety concerns surrounded this cosmetic procedure when it first emerged. Through rigorous scientific research and regulation, it is clear that when performed by a trained professional using FDA-cleared laser and light devices. the treatment carries very minimal risk. Laser hair removal continues to be well-tolerated with few side effects, and no compelling evidence has shown it can cause skin cancers like melanoma. Individuals seeking hair removal can feel comfortable choosing laser treatments as a safe. long-lasting option backed by robust evidence assuaging fears about potential health effects.

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