Swelling After Your Laser Hair Removal Session
Perhaps one of the most common side effects after a laser hair removal treatment is minor or extreme swelling. The medical term for this is perifollicular edema, which is where the hair follicle will swell because of excess fluid. This is something that can be treated with hydrocortisone, which will reduce inflammation and swelling that temporarily occurs on the surface of the skin.
If you are a very sensitive skin type, then this is a side effect that could easily occur. This swelling can also be directly dependent upon the type of laser settings that were used within the treatment, so make sure to communicate with your laser hair removal technician if you are experiencing extreme pain and feel that the settings are too high. Often times, the laser hair removal technician can turn down the laser settings until you feel comfortable enough to continue with the treatment.
For this reason, if you have a special event coming up, it is wise to avoid a laser treatment up to two weeks beforehand. This is especially true for an important business meeting, a wedding portrait, or a vacation that you have been looking forward to. Delicate areas of the body with thinner skin are more likely to swell, which could easily happen to your upper lip, bikini area, and even underarms if they are treated. It is also important to understand that the results that you get from one treatment will not dictate how your skin will react to all further treatments. The settings of the laser will be turned up after every single treatment, which means that you have the potential to swell after any treatment, whether it is your first or sixth within a series.
It is also important to keep in mind that areas with denser hair are more likely to swell severely. This is especially true for dense and coarse hair, which can often be found on a man's back or chest, a woman's bikini area, or any areas of very coarse hair caused by hormonal issues. Again, this swelling should subside within 48 hours, but if it does not, you will need to contact your physician or your laser hair removal treatment center. There have also been instances where individuals have had extreme allergic reactions to a laser hair removal treatment, involving severe swelling that needs to be treated in an emergency room setting.
If you do have a darker skin tone, you may be more likely to swell because it requires more laser energy to penetrate into the skin to kill the hair at the follicle. This is true for extremely dark skin tones, and those individuals need to be careful with the laser settings that they use, how often they are treated, and what areas they may treat. The same rule holds true in that you do not know how your body will react after a treatment. If you have had good results in a treatment on your underarms, it does not mean that your upper lip, feet, or bikini area will not swell the first time that they are treated. Darker skin tones will start out on a different laser at lower settings to work up to a more aggressive treatment to potentially kill the hair follicle for good.
If you feel concerned about how your skin will react in a laser hair removal treatment, you can request to test the area beforehand. This would be suitable for a very dense area, like a man's back or a woman's bikini area. Your laser hair removal technician can test a small patch within the treatment site, and you can wait several days to determine what type of reaction that you will have. This will help you to understand if your skin is extremely sensitive to laser hair removal, or if you will have a positive experience in treating more sensitive areas on your body.
If you have started to swell after a laser treatment, the first step is to contact your laser hair removal center so that they can monitor any extreme reactions. This is something that you should do even if it is minor swelling, just to keep them informed of your condition. Swelling is actually quite normal after laser hair removal, and the effects are temporary. If you are feeling discomfort, you can treat your pain with anti-inflammatory over-the-counter medications. Furthermore, make sure to protect your skin completely after the laser treatment for the best results by avoiding sun exposure for a week following the procedure until the skin has returned to normal.
This article was written by Bethany North. Bethany is a licensed esthetician with experience in hands-on experience in chemical peels, microdermabrasion, facials, laser hair removal, makeup applications, skin analysis, waxing, spray tanning, and product ingredient assessment. She has also worked as a salon sales and training consultant, as well as a consultant for beauty and hair care product lines in branding and marketing.