Does Laser Hair Removal Cause Cancer?
Laser hair removal: the beauty industry promises smooth, nearly-maintenance-free skin with a short 10-minute laser appointment.
The promises seem almost too good to be true. Could we really save hours of shaving with a short appointment? Using laser beams for hair removal almost sounds like a procedure out of the latest sci-fi movies. And what about side effects – does laser hair removal cause cancer?
Side effects: An important consideration for any Laser Hair Removal treatment
Any popular treatment should be examined for its long-term impact on the body. Our physical health can be altered in a moment by harmful radiation, toxic substances, and poor lifestyle choices. Laser hair removal is only convenient if it does not cause greater problems down the road.
Another popular treatment, IPL, is similar to laser hair removal (but cheaper). IPL also results in better long-term results with fewer or no touch-ups needed. Because of these better results, individuals often opt for IPL over laser hair removal. Does IPL cause cancer? Its long-term side effects may be similar to laser treatment, as its methods are nearly identical. Is the short-term convenience worth long-term risk?
In this article, we’ll break down the methods used in IPL and laser hair removal. Then, we’ll examine the research behind each method: does it cause cancer, or is it relatively harmless? We’ll look at studies to see if laser hair removal includes side effects of cancer or other dangerous diseases. Finally, we’ll end with doctors’ and dermatologists’ general recommendations (but always talk to your current healthcare professional before beginning a new treatment, such as hair removal, in case you have unique health risks associated with treatment).
The answer to this question is crucial for anyone considering laser treatment for any part of their body. Keep reading to find out what to expect from the hair removal process long-term.
What is laser hair removal, and what is IPL?
Laser hair removal and IPL both use light and energy to damage hair follicles.
Hair grows from specific glands in your skin, known as hair follicles. Each follicle needs to remain independently healthy to continue producing hair. The goal of laser hair removal and IPA is to damage these glands until they cannot function.
Laser hair removal
With laser hair removal, a small, precise, intense beam of energy is shot repeatedly into the skin (lasers themselves are defined within a specific wavelength of light, so all laser treatments should have similar effects). This beam is absorbed by the pigment in hair strands, then transferred to the follicles themselves.
Laser energy then attacks the hair follicles. Damage can prevent hair follicles from growing hair in the future – essentially causing “hair removal” in laser-treated areas.
The treatment stings a little, but can be adjusted based on a customer’s pain tolerance. Additionally, its effectiveness varies based on the tone of your hair: those with dark hair (more pigment) see better results than those with light hair (less pigment).
Laser hair removal can reduce both dark and light hairs by up to 90% after several sessions. Hair will regrow, so touch-up sessions are necessary.
Laser hair removal does not deliberately target or alter skin cells, so its cancer risks are assumed to be low. We’ll look further into the surrounding research later in this article.
IPL, on the other hand, uses an intense non-laser light to weaken hair follicles. The light is emitted at a different wavelength than lasers – and generally sweeps over the skin rather than targeting specific hairs.
IPL can be less painful and more permanent than laser hair treatment. Hairs don’t always grow back after IPL, so follow up appointments are not always necessary. It’s the best of both worlds in hair loss treatment.
Unfortunately, the wavelength of light used for IPL may not help reduce the volume of lighter hair. If you have blonde or white hair, you’ll need to use laser hair removal instead of IPL for effective treatment.
Both treatments involve bombarding the skin with intense energy, because of this, concerns have surfaced regarding the potential cancer risks after the skin has been treated. Are these concerns legitimate? Next, we’ll look at the research behind cancer claims and laser treatments.
Can laser hair removal cause cancer?
Scientists and dermatologists are split as to whether or not laser hair removal and touch-ups can eventually result in skin cancer.
Lasers: Are they generally dangerous?
Lasers alone are not always cancer-inducing. Skin cancers are sometimes treated with lasers: for example, melanoma or esophageal cancers can be minimized or destroyed through laser treatment. Some research has shown improvement in other skin cancers through laser treatment. Simply dismissing laser hair removal because it relies on lasers would be misinformed.
However, laser therapy for cancer is a precise operation. Laser hair removal is not designed to remove cancer.
Lasers for hair removal – are they dangerous?
The answer? There isn’t enough research. Scientists are focused on using lasers to treat skin cancers, and haven’t spent much time studying laser hair removal’s long-term effects.
However, the lasers themselves have been specifically designed to avoid cancer-causing effects. They have been tested and showed no early signs of causing cancer, and many dermatologists reassure their clients not to worry.
Some doctors advise caution when scheduling laser hair removal. They feel concerned due to the lack of research surrounding the process – they believe if we aren’t sure of the side effects, we shouldn’t rush into a beauty treatment.
In the end, it’s your decision. You can opt for laser hair removal, believing that the current research is sufficient and no negative evidence will surface in the future. Or you can avoid laser treatments, safely waiting until more studies are conducted. You’re the only one who can determine whether you feel comfortable with the benefits of laser hair removal in the context of its potential to cause cancer.
Does IPL cause cancer?
A better-known treatment
IPL has actually existed longer than laser hair removal. Because its methods have been used for decades, recipients of IPL treatments have been observed for long enough (presumably) to see any negative side effects from the energy used.
In addition, over the years, IPL techniques have evolved. Scientists and inventors have refined the process of IPL for hair removal to be safer, quicker, and more effective. This innovation further decreases the risks of receiving IPL treatments.
Researchers express confidence in IPL’s safety, making it a top choice for those seeking hair removal. While some professionals remain cautious about laser hair removal and cancer, IPL is generally accepted as safe.
Lingering possibility of side effects
Of course, there may be unexpected side effects discovered in decades to come. Though cigarettes were invented in the 1860s, the dangers weren’t confirmed until the 1950s. However, science has progressed since the early 20th century, and our ability to anticipate unwanted side effects is better. Its possible IPL will be considered dangerous in the future – but highly unlikely.
Can you get cancer from laser hair removal?
Laser hair removal and IPL treatments are expensive, but can save hours of time each month by eliminating the need to shave. They’re relatively painless, quick, and easy.
But are they safe?
Yes – doctors, dermatologists, and researchers agree that studies have not shown a definitive link between laser or IPL hair removal and cancer. While some research may surface in the future, currently, there is no reason to feel concerned about future cancer from a laser or IPL treatment.
Which process is safer?
IPL is the safer process of the two. It’s existed longer, been studied more extensively, and experienced more change than laser hair removal. Many researchers recommend it as an alternative to the less-studied laser treatments. Additionally, it seems to be more effective for those with dark hair.
Laser treatments don’t currently show any side effects, though they are less studied than IPL. Lasers themselves don’t necessarily cause cancer (in fact, many are used to treat cancer). Nevertheless, laser hair removal needs more scientific attention before a definitive conclusion is reached. If you opt for laser hair removal, you likely won’t develop cancer – but it’s hard to be sure.
Men and women spend a significant amount of time shaving each week. If your shaving routine is taking over your life, laser hair removal may be a safe treatment. If you have dark hair, try IPL: it’s even safer. Whether you decide to go forward with hair removal or continue shaving, science will keep pressing forward in future years to discover the best method of hair removal and uncover the true risks of our current processes.