Could Laser Hair Removal Possibly Cause Nerve Damage?

Will laser hair removal damage the fine nerve endings attached to the hair follicle? If not, what protects the nerve endings from the heat that destroys the follicle?

Doctor Answers 1

Damage to the nerve from laser hair removal is unexpected and unusal.

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The nerve fibers that communicate with a hair follicle primarily provide sensory information related to the sense of touch. As the goal of laser hair removal is the elimination of the hair, the loss of hair follicle touch sensation associated with the hair is unavoidable if the hair is successfully destroyed. Fortunately, areas frequently treated with LHR (i.e: face, underarms, bikini-area) do not suffer any ill consequences from loss of hair follicle touch sensation. Furthermore, there are no negative consequences to the patient should the sensory nerve associated with a hair follicle suffer damage or even permanent destruction subsequent to LHR. Essentially, symptomatic nerve damage following LHR would be a very unexpected and unusual complication, and would likely only relate to inappropriate laser settings employed by an inexperienced laser provider. In common practice, there is no danger of nerve damage with LHR.

Chicago Dermatologic Surgeon
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