Laser Hair Removal Burns: How to Prevent Scarring?

Hi. Recently I traveled to China and recieved laser hair removal treatments for my legs. I believe the machine used was an IPL machine. All of my cousins recieved the same treatments but none of them received any burns from it. The burns do not seem superficial and there were crusting and blistering. The blisters have popped wth no infections and some of the crust have fallen off. What can I do to prevent scarring. The doctor only recommended hydrocortisone and vitamin E. Please help!!!

Doctor Answers 3

Burns from IPL laser hair removal

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Choosing proper IPL filters and settings for any procedure requires both extensive knowledge of the equipment, its capabilities and a thorough analysis and skin typing of the patient.  Incorrect parameters in any of these can lead to side effects such as this.

Also, there must not be any sun exposure for a month before and a month after the laser hair removal, as that can lead to side effects as well.

The burns that resulted from the IPL treatment you received look fairly extensive and there is a possibility of scarring, that is permanent change in the texture of the skin.  Most of the time, the skin texture remains the same but the color change either lighter or darker than normal skin color can last a long time or may evey be permanent.  Again, most of the time, the color changes also resolve.

At the moment on your photos the skin still appears to be inflamed.  It may be that the burns have not healed yet or you may have an allergic contact dermatitis from the vitamin E you are using.  Vitamin E does not help scar resolution and is well known to cause allergic skin reactions.  It is less likely that there is an infection of the skin.

I recommend that you stop the vitamin E and consult with a dermatologist as soon as possible for a more definitive diagnosis and treatment.

Short Hills Dermatologic Surgeon

Laser hair removal induced blisters and pigmentation

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As bad as the photographs look, it is possible to improve the outcome compared with no treatment.  You should see a dermatologist who can examine your skin. Is this a second degree or focally third degree burn in some tiny areas? Will the post inflammatory hyperpigmentation reduce itself or will it stay dark brown forever? Will the texture of the skin become white shiny and thin? Will there be white centers, depressed with scars and surrounded by dark brown pigment? Wound care may help immensely.  Different physicians have different techniques for treating wounds. Unfortunately the legs heal just about the poorest of the body locations and have the highest chance of permanent postinflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Laser Hair Removal: complications

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The deeper burns must inevitably scar. The more superficial ones may cause discoloration. The key here is to make the best of the situation and try to minimize the adverse results. I suggest you consult a certified dermatologist as soon as possible.

Hugh McLean, MD
Mississauga Plastic Surgeon

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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.