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If you’ve had a laser hair removal treatment and noticed almost immediately after that you had numerous red, raised bumps, you can take a deep breath and relax—this is totally normal! It is a phenomenon known as “follicular edema” and it’s basically swelling around the treated hair follicle. It may look worrisome, but it’s actually a good thing when you see it because it means that you got a great laser treatment!
First, it’s important to note that follicular edema is temporary. It should last a few hours to up to a day or so after your treatment. Anything lasting longer than that is something else that you need to talk about with your laser practitioner. Here’s why it happens. During the laser hair removal treatment, the laser concentrates a large amount of heat on the individual hair follicles. This energy causes changes to the follicle which can make it swell and become red. Thus, the term edema (swelling) is used because it’s exactly what is happening in each follicle.
While follicular edema is normal after laser hair removal treatment, blistering (or more severe burns) or prolonged redness or brown discoloration after treatment are not. These changes signal that either the wrong device for your skin type (color) was used or that the energy settings on the laser were too high. You can avoid these unwanted side effects by getting to know your laser practitioner and practice before you begin your treatments. Make sure you choose an experienced practitioner with the right laser for your skin type.
Let your laser practitioner know if you had follicular edema following your treatment. Many will ask as it helps guide their decision-making process when planning the safest and most effective laser settings to give you the best results.