Will These Burns from Laser Hair Removal Scar my Face Permanently? (photo)

Hi i had a laser hair removal treatment 2 days ago and have been burnt and i am scared that i am scarred for life on my face.I have had a few treatments from this lady before but this has never happened i think its is due to the high intensity of the laser and her being under qualified.I just want to know if these scars will fade away? and how long it would take for them to fade away as my wedding is approaching and what can i do or use to make it better.Please help me i am devastated.

Doctor Answers 6

Burn from laser hair removal

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I hope by now that you are seeing significant improvement  in the darks marks you experienced after your laser hair removal treatment.   At this point, any crusting that you may have experienced has likely sloughed off.   If you are now seeing tan/brown marks in the burned areas, you could benefit from a lightening agent containing hydroquinone.  However, if you are seeing hypopigmentation, or skin lighter than the surrounding areas, you need to be patient and hopeful.  Hypopigmentation tends to be more difficult to rectify than hyperpigmentation.  Regardless of the type of discoloration that you are experiencing post laser hair removal, it is crucial to not leave your home or office without applying a broad spectrum sunscreen with a minimum of an SPF of 30.  My personal preference is to use a physical sunscreen with zinc oxide present in at least the 4% range.  Good luck to you and have a wonderful wedding.

Davie Dermatologic Surgeon

Laser Hair Removal Burns

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Burns from laser hair removal treatments are usually superficial and caused by high laser settings. Since your treatment was only two days ago, this is most likely the case. However you should certainly speak to a  board certified dermatologist who will give you a more specific protocol to follow. 

In the meantime,  it is important to keep the area moist through a product like Aquaphor. Do not rub or pick at the skin. And stay out of the sun as much as possible. 

Sanusi Umar, MD
Redondo Beach Dermatologic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Burns after laser hair removal

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Unfortunately this can be a common side effect of lasers. It is important to go to a fully trained professional. Burns can leave permanent scars that may fade with time while pigmentation problems can be addressed with hydroquinone cream. However, before you proceed with any treatment, please talk to a medical professional to find out what the best course of treatment is.

Prior to getting a laser treatment done make sure your technician performs a test patch. On darker skin types test patches should be done several weeks prior to treatment to ensure this does not happen again. Sorry to hear about your experience. 

Treatment of laser hair removal burns

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Potential risks of laser hair removal include burns even when optimal laser treatment parameters are used. This can lead to temporary or even permanent hypo-pigmentation or hyper-pigmentation. To help prevent this, my recommendations for treatment of burns in the skin are as follows:

1. Keep the areas clean by washing with a mild soap twice daily.
2. If there is blistering, relieve the pressure and hasten healing time by gently popping all blisters using a sterile needle or pin at the side of the blister. This should be a painless procedure. Do not remove the roof of the blister but allow it to settle down so it is flush with the skin. The blister roof will then form a protective cover.
3. Apply Aquaphor Healing Ointment (available without a prescription) to all involved areas to keep them "greasy". The greasier the area is, the faster it will heal. The drier and scabbier the area gets, the slower it will heal.
4. Permanent scarring is unlikely but you have to guard against post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation by constant protection from the sun for these areas such as using protective clothing as well as broad spectrum sunscreens.
5. Make certain you are under a doctor's care and watch for signs of infection so that oral antibiotics can be started as soon as possible if necessary.

Mitchell Schwartz, MD
South Burlington Dermatologic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Burns after laser hair removal

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Given your treatment was only two days ago, these may not be spots of post inflammatory hyperpigmentation but rather superficial crusts or scabs from the laser.  As Dr. Ruekle recommends, keeping them most with aquaphor or Vaseline petroleum jelly is critical at this point.  You need to apply it every two hours.  You also need to VIGILANTLY avoid the sun.  You can put a zinc oxide based sunscreen on as well in the morning before you apply the ointment. If they are scabs, they will peel off wiithin the next several days.  Don't help it along by rubbing or picking.   The skin underneath may be pink and at that time you are at high risk for post inflammatory hyperpigmentation so the sunscreen ans sun avoidance are critical.  If it is hyperpigmented already, then I agree with a strong HQ used twice daily as well as a topical vitamin C serum and perhaps even a retinoids or glycolic acid product.  These decisions can be made by an excellent board certified dermatologist with experience in laser procedures.  Go to the web site for the American Society for Lasers in Surgery and Medicine as well as the American Society for Dermatological Surgery to find someone in your area.  I am quite confident you will be fine by your wedding and definitely not scarred for life.  

Jacqueline Calkin, MD
Sacramento Dermatologic Surgeon

Laser hair removal burns

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I am very sorry about your treatment. This is quite simply, post hyperpigmentation from high laser settings. Over time, you may need to use a strong Rx like hydroquinone 8-12% to treat the post inflammatory hyperpigmented areas that you have, but I would start here:

1. Wash gently with your hands (do not exfoliate, scrub, pick, use a sponge or loofah, etc.) with a mild soap like Dove.

2. Apply something that will keep the area moist, like Aquaphor, for several days. You can also use hydrocortisone if you have any redness, either over-the-counter or prescription strength. Make sure you apply both of these with your skin damp.

3. Do not pick your skin. If you have any scabs, you need to place a cool rag on those spots and gently remove them. Do not pull them off; do not allow them to stay there. Scabs in the general sense, equate to scars.

4. Hopefully in the next few days these brown pigmented areas may start to lighten. If not, please call a dermatologist and get the prescription that I listed above - hydroquinone. It targets brown pigment.

5. Keep the area out of the sun and use a good sunscreen with good ingredients. Your newer skin will be more susceptible to burns so be very, very careful in the sun!

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.