Laser hair removal gone wrong

I am new to this website & wish I had read this before I went for laser hair removal. I am a fair skinned, dark haired woman with excessive hair growth. I believe I’m type III. It’s mainly vellus hairs over my entire body, but they are noticeable since the hairs are dark. I started getting laser done on my side burns in April 2005 and went until March 07 - with about 6 weeks between treatments. It worked great on the side burns. But then the vellus hairs on my cheeks, adjacent to where the side burns started growing longer and darker. It also was growing along my jaw line. I went back and the tech told me it has happened before to others and she would just go over the new hair with the laser and it would clear up. Not knowing enough and just wanting it gone, I went for about 9 more treatments on sides of face. The hair seemed to have stayed the same. My last treatment was on June 9, 2009. About 2 weeks after my last treatment I started noticing fine, white hairs under my bottom lip and all over my chin and down my neck (fine, but dense) where there was no hair before! I have no idea how this could have happened as this is not an area I have had treated. I’m really upset and wish I had never started laser in the first place. I have an appointment with a cosmetic dermatologist tomorrow who also does laser hair removal. I am freaking out over this new growth. I’ve dealt with hair my whole life but this was one spot I never had to worry about. This is starting to affect me mentally/emotionally. I have read a few posts that say electrology is the preferred method for getting female facial hair treated. I’m just scared to do anything now in case the problem becomes worse.
Any advice on what I should ask the dermatologist or advice in general?

Join the Laser Stimulated Hair Growth Club. Yet again, another unfortunate consumer reports what was thought to be a rare occurrence in the beginning years of laser hair reduction. It is continuing to show that it is not so rare. We once thought it was, but these kinds of posts appear here on hairtell on a frequent basis.

All you have now is electrolysis. We electrologists are getting busier and busier these days cleaning up laser induced hair growth. It’s hard work what we do - very technical - working on those thin colorless hairs. Electrolysis will not make your problem worse. You are already experiencing “worse”. Electrolysis will make it better if it is properly performed and yo are patient.

You need a modern electrologist who uses modern tools of the trade. She/he needs to use the faster forms of thermolyis and you will need to donate several hours on the table to tone this down. Speaking of “donate”, will the clinic that caused this mess donate the hundreds of dollars you will need for your electrolysis care? They should know about your mental anguish and disappointment.

I don’t know how many people (percentage)get this unfortunate side effect in regard to lasing facial areas, but we sure hear about it on hairtell too often. I am amazed tha laser clinic’s are not warning their clients that this could happen, or are they?

Do not fear electrolysis. It works. It’s all you have. Search carefully for a modern electrologist that has good speed with great tools. You have a permanent option if you hook up with a skilled electrologist.

Thing is, we mostly hear about it only when there is a problem and since this forum address a large number of people, it’s impossible to tell the percentage of this occurrence.

By the way, you didn’t mention, how old are you?

A dermatologist is really not the best person to consult. They’re not trained in hair removal. If you’re curious whether you have underlying hormonal issues causing the growth in the first place, you should see an endocrinologist.

Otherwise, to really deal with the issue you should start looking for a good electrologist, since with that type of hair, that’s the only method you should have been using in the first place.

Laser is only for coarse dense growth such as on bikini and underarms.

How old are you btw?

I’m also not positive that the white hairs you’re noticing are necesarily from laser.

Thanks for the answers/advice. I am 33 years old.
The dermatologist I am seeing later is actually trained in laser hair removal. I didn’t really know who I should see about this.
I did visit my primary doctor and she does not believe it’s a hormonal issue. I don’t have any of the other symptoms associated with PCOS. I am not overweight, my periods are like clockwork, etc…
I did do laser on my underarms & bikini as well and it worked great. I was not aware of the potential risk of growing hair in adjacent areas, otherwise I would have never gotten it done on my face.
I am assuming that the light hairs under my bottom lip and all over the chin & underneath chin were from the laser because of the fact that I have experienced hair growth adjacent to where my sideburns were. Then the technician moved over to that area to do the laser and now chin hairs!? LAgirl, what are your thoughts on how these lighter hairs appeared?
I’m also curious about electrology. If it is a permanent method then why do so many people still have issues with unwanted hair? Why wouldn’t everyone get electrology done? I’m not trying to sound snarky, I really want to know.

Many people don’t need to see an endocrinologist straight up. The number of endocrinologists are decreasing and they certainly don’t need the masses from hairtell calling about unwanted hair, which is most likely normal genetic happenings. Your family physician or nurse practitioner can do a basic work up and then you can go from there if necessary. Were baseline tests performed when you visited your family physician or did she look at you and say you are fine?


Laser hair reduction is absolutely awesome for underarms, bikini line and lower legs if you have dark, coarse, dense hair, the correct laser and a skilled laser specialists. Anything outside this realm gets trickier and riskier. The consumer should be told this. When the consumer has a complaint, the consumer needs to set up firmly and verbalize and document the complaint to the business or clinic. Take pictures. Let there be no doubt that this happened to you and firmly suggest that they put this rare or not so rare side effect in big print on the contract, warning the next customer after you that working on the facial area could result in MORE hair appearing in an adjacent area. THen they can decide if they want to risk that.

Electrolysis has been in existence coming close to a century and a half. Yes, that’s what I said. Electrologists have been serving the hairy for 141 years! Why??? because it simply works. Vast improvements in equipment has been made in the long time line, so it has gotten better and better very time.

Electrolysis is PERMANENT hair removal for any color of hair, on any color of skin for any structure of hair. The laser industry markets their product very aggressively. People that market their products have to stand on the neck of their competition, which in this case is electrolysis. The electrolysis industry does not have the money to market aggressively and quite simply, we don’t need to go the glossy route because we know eventually, the laser failures will find out about us and seek us out when they realize that laser hair reduction did a pretty good job, but they still need help for the hair that laser could not effect or in your case, for the adjacent areas where more hair grew that wasn’t a problem before.

If there were more highly trained elecrologists WORLDWIDE, using the best epilators, magnification and lighting, working mainly with the faster forms of thermolysis, no one would need laser hair reduction for areas other than underarms, bikini and lower legs, IIIIIIIFFFFFF they are good candidates. Even then, a skilled electrologist can still remove hairs effectively on the underarms, bikini are and lower legs. Both laser and electrolysis are options for these areas indeed.

Peruse the electrolysis forum and you will gather some good information about electrolysis. Then, get consults with short treatment, go home and see how you heal. For all the hair you describe, you need an electrologist that can remove more than 200 hairs per hour. Many, with the best set up, can remove between 500-1,200 hairs per hour just to give you perspective as you sort this out.

I’m way too long here, but hoped this gave you some guidance.


Hi Dee:

I think the reason that people opt for laser is because
they would rather buy the promise of getting rid of their
hair in 6-9 sessions of laser rather than the
number of hours electrolysis might take to do the job.

A number of years ago I enquired about electrolysis
for my face and was quoted a price tag of $35,000.
Then along comes laser and I am quoted a fraction of that.

I did the laser and came to the realization that it
wasn’t good enough for what I required as far as facial
hair clearance. In fact I still had some substantial
amount of dark hair returning plus the greys. It did
reduce the amount of hair somewhat though, so I looked
at that as a partial victory.

Next I started on electrolysis and even though it took
a lot of hours compared to laser, it has actually worked,
so that now I don’t have any facial hair, dark or grey

But when people are looking for a quick fix they won’t
listen to people like myself who’ve actually been through
it. To them I’m probably just trying to shatter their dreams.
They would rather buy the dream than the reality.
Unfortunately when they finish the laser and have to start
electrolysis they are pretty devastated. Like I was.
Welcome to the club.


To answer your question about electrolysis, most people just don’t know what’s out there. And before Internet was around, it was pretty difficult to find this information, especially in an unbiased forum like this one. Electrologists also are usually sel-employed with modest income and do not have the funds to advertise the way some laser chains do nowdays. They simply do not have the profits that laser clinics do.

Plus, electrolysis requires committment on the part of the customer for at least 12 months of regular treatments. Most people just want the hair to be gone and are not ready to commit. Those who truly care to get results because it’s necessary for their lives, like transgendered people, have been using electrolysis for 100+ years.

No one says it’s a quick and easy solution. But it’s the only one that works on fine and light-colored hair at this point in time.

The big money is in laser hair removal and if it was shown that one machine can do harm, then the next laser to come next month will promise it won’t happen again, it’s an endless cycle which doesn’t pay attention much to induce hair but rather to treating all types of hair, so far even though many will claim that their laser can do the job, there is no answer for that.

I think also lots of lasers are operated by people who have only been using them for a short while and really don’t know an awful lot about skin and side effects in general only the mantra that they have been told to repeat. It’s certainly my impression of the young women in the clinics here in th UK.

But there again many years ago i also had some cases of bad electrolysis which put me off.

Thanks to boards like this I have discovered that laser is brill for the bits already mentioned and I have had done. But to take a wide berth when it comes to the face and find a good electrologist. I agree it seems as though it will take for ever but I have now discovered that just few hours of it can provide hope and a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel. Yes it’s not cheap but hey in my case i’ve decided it’s the cost of a couple of holidays. Which when I am hair free i will be able to enjoy a whole great deal more. As for the time well I’ll just have to spend less time sitting in front of the telly!

(I don’t know how to do the information below the line bit)

Female Face electrolysis lots of v. fine long dark hair - Diathermy old machine 4 hours on forehead and sides of face. So far looking good and know that the effort will be worth it.

It’s not a line you put in. You go to your profile, and put that info in your signature area. :slight_smile:

dfahey - I think good clinics do. It’s more a matter of clients not being aware enough in regards to Laser so they can’t judge very well between different clinics.

Certainly, when I went for my laser consultation, I was very surprised that they mentioned ‘reactive growth’ as a side effect and it put my mind at ease about the clinic.
Even now, the other day when I had my full leg treatment the aesthetician asked where she should draw the cut off line on my upper thigh. Obviously, I indicated just up to where the hair growth was thicker. She commented that she was glad and would have recommended the same because of induced growth, but that some clients insist on having it all treated.

I see that you found the signature portion in your profile. This is a time saver for those that answer your questions, so thanks much. Keep it updated, okay?

Glad your clinic mentioned ‘reactive growth’ to you. That is a term I had not heard before. I’m not sure many would understand that term as well as laser induced hair stimlation.


Went to the cosmetic dermatologist yesterday and was somewhat comforted in the fact that she agreed laser can in fact stimulate hair growth. However, she also said that I could benefit from more laser treatments to treat the new growth. I really don’t know what to think. She also mentioned putting me on Spiro, which I don’t know too much about and am not looking to go on drugs that are not needed. I’m confused about what this would do for me. Anyone have insight on Spiro? The hair I do have on my chin, cheeks, and neck is not terminal hair. It’s dense, fine hairs.

The derm also gave me a good article on hair stimulation following laser treatments:
It describes exactly what happened to me. Supposedly if you ice the areas not being treated while undergoing laser, there is less possibility of stimulating new growth. I really wish I had known about all of this beforehand. Another case of hindsight being 20/20.

I’ve also been reading a little more on elecrolysis since it seems like it may be the only avenue I have left. Do you have to grow your hair out to a certain length in order to get electrolysis? And what does the hair look like in between sessions? I’m worried about doing any type of hair removal on my face now since there seem to be possible bad side effects with everything.

I would NOT recommend treating this growth with laser. There is no point and you will be consistently disappointed again. Your hair will NOT get coarse enough for laser.

You need electrolysis, if you want it gone for good. Period.

The hair needs to be just long enough to grasp with tweezers, so it doesn’t have to be long at all. And you would come in as often as needed to leave hairless every time.

What kind of side effects are you worried about with electrolysis? I think the best way for you to do this is to start testing out a couple electrologists for 15 min sample treatments.

Spiro is mostly for those with PCOS. Did she think you have it? It controls hormones that produce NEW growth. It doesn’t do much to the hair that’s already there.

Clinics should not even be offering laser hair removal services to the general public and the average hirsute simply because the hair isn’t thick and dark enough. The only people suitable enough for it might be ‘wolf people’ (sorry, can’t remember medical term), but really that’s it. It beggars belief that even well reputable places offer such services to absolutely anyone.

To the OP: they’re just trying to re-sell their services to you and make more mega bucks, which will go towards advertising their business. Your induced hair growth will not be thick enough, as LAgirl says. It’s shameful that they prey on people in such a way, because laser induced hair growth will most likely occur with every set of treatment. Any company that has not lived up to their promise AND made things worse should be offering an honest solution, or at the least holding their hands up and saying it’s best not to continue, instead of leeching on you like this.

Please go to an electrolysis. It’ll save you peace of mind and will be more cost-effective in the long run. I’m just sorry that you had to undergo this grief.

^smurf, i hope you are only talking about vellus areas.

i am very happy with the results where i have/had coarse hair and i’m sure many others are too.

i agree that areas such as the face shouldn’t really be offered BUT i also know that there are plenty of women with regular facial hair who have had it treated without any induced growth. would i take the risk myself? absolutely not. but if someone is aware of the risk and still wants to go ahead what can you do? it’s the same as all other cosmetic procedures - they all carry a risk and usually it’s the client that makes the final decision.

i have also heard from a few girls, who when they went for laser consultations for the face, they were recommended NOT to undergo treatment as their facial hair was pretty normal and it wasn’t worth the risk. if they still choose to take the risk and sign the consent form, there’s not really much the clinic can do is there?

I am a male with dark coarse hair on my shoulders and back and am sad to read this now. I read this forum for info before anyone was talking about ‘reactive growth’ and was so encouraged with my first 4 trips to laser treatment and one with IPL. The result now, however, is increased hair growth, more than I had before and I feel a bit stuffed now as to what to do. The back is a large area to get electrolysis on! Should I continue with IPL and hope for improvement? Did I stop to soon? No one locally has laser, only IPL.

Unless you are talking about the first months of this board’s existence. we have been talking about Stimulation of increased growth on an ongoing basis. There are just points where the talk is louder, at some points, and lately, those who used to argue that it didn’t exist, at least give in to the idea that it is a reality.

Electrolysis can be used on a back or chest, but the problem is finding someone good to do it, and then finding enough treatment hours to get to first clearance (hopefully in the first six to eight weeks) and then maintaining that level of clearance from there, so you can look like you are finished even while you continue your treatments.

Laser induced hair growth is the ultimate downer. Once that hair gets thinner, it is impossible to effect it with more laser.

ELectrolysis remains the only option and you can get good electrolysis care if you have an electrologist or two in your area that has a certain set up and the willingness to do longer appointments. Briefly, the optimal way to do electrolysis for large areas consists of:

  1. Finding a skilled electrologist.
  2. She/he must have one of the better computerized epilators
    that offer the faster forms of thermolysis in (1,100ths)
    (1/10,000)speed. The upper end Apilus epilators. I use the
    Apilus Platinum and prior to that the Silhouet-Tone VMC,
    but there are other great epilators that fill the bill as
  3. Quality surgical magnification.
  4. A quality light source. LED or halogen lighting
  5. You must have a willingness to devote at least two hours a
    week towards getting an area cleared and then keeping it
    maintained as you move forward. You can do more hours per
    per week if you can talk the electrologist into working
    longer hours.
  6. Speed of the electrologist is important. She/he has to
    have the ability to focus in a methodical way to wipe out a
    chosen section before moving on to the next section.
  7. You and the electrologist are a team and you will be
    together for a several months fighting the enemy - hair.
    A vigorous schedule upfront gets the hair off faster, so
    put in the time and then keep punching away. This can be a
    two year project, with the first year being the hardest.

If you are are not willing to accept a plan like this or can’t find an electrologist with the best setup and speed, then you can find an electrolysis buddy and the both of you can self-learn and exchange work on each other. It may be more uncomfortable and slower, but that is an option as long as you both can insert well and hit the target with enough intensity and timing. You also have to buy the tools you will need.

I feel for anyone that ends up with more hair after laser. Laser is a Godsend for coarse,dense, dark hair, but a pattern has been emerging for some time now, that for some people on some areas it is real gamble. Clinics need to INFORM prospective clients about this possibility IN WRITING so the consumer can decide. Sort of like the warning statement on a pack of cigarettes.