You've finally decided to say goodbye to unwanted body hair for good – but now you’re hesitating, wondering: is embracing the smooth skin you crave worth the potential cancer risks?
As laser hair removal becomes an increasingly popular way to reduce unwanted body and facial hair permanently, it's normal for people to wonder about the potential risks of undergoing any skin treatment. However, there is currently no strong evidence to suggest that laser hair removal causes cancer. To clear up any uncertainties and increase your confidence in the safety of this procedure, let's take a closer look at the facts.
How laser hair removal works
Laser hair removal is a safe and effective procedure that eliminates hair using a targeted laser beam that destroys the hair at its root. The laser uses a directed beam of light to target the melanin pigment in your hair. When the pigment heats up, it destroys your hair follicles.
Misconceptions regarding cancer concerns
One of the main issues in addressing cancer risks comes from misguided assumptions that lasers and all forms of radiation are harmful. It is important to distinguish between ionizing radiation and non-ionizing radiation.
Ionizing radiation, such as X-rays and gamma rays, contains enough energy to knock electrons out of atoms, which can damage DNA and lead to cancer development.
Non-ionizing radiation, such as the light used in laser hair removal, does not have enough energy to ionize molecules or induce cell mutations.
What research reveals
Numerous studies have been conducted to understand the health risks associated with laser hair removal.
According to sources such as the National Institutes of Health and other health officials, there is currently “no evidence to suggest that there is a credible cancer risk” when receiving laser hair removal treatment.
The laser beam used in these procedures is specifically designed to target the pigment in the hair follicles. They are not intended to harm the surrounding skin or tissues.
As with any medical treatment, properly minimizing risks in laser hair removal is essential. Here are some recommendations:
Be sure your treatment utilizes an FDA-cleared laser device at a reputable facility with technicians who have extensive experience and training.
Throughout the consultation, determine if the laser suits your skin type and condition.
Follow all pre and post treatment care protocols.
Notify immediately of any atypical reactions or unusual symptoms.
Ash, C., Town, G., Whittall, R., Tooze, L., & Phillips, J. (2017). Lasers and intense pulsed light (IPL) association with cancerous lesions. Lasers in Medical Science, 32(8), 1927–1933. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10103-017-2310-y
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