One of the most common misconceptions about laser hair removal is that it’s a one-and-done type of thing. Okay, okay… maybe most now know it’s not ONE and done but let’s say SIX and done. The reality is laser for hair removal is deemed “permanent hair REDUCTION.” This sometimes can feel like the super tiny print in a contract we may skim over but realistically never read.
Let me break it down for you…
It’s important for me that you understand and set proper expectations for yourself when it comes to your dream of being hair-free both aesthetically and financially.
Here’s a look at the science first:
There are many forms used to destroy unwanted hair follicles but for the sake of this blog, we will talk only about lasers. (I can shed some light in another blog on the difference between IPL, laser, and electrolysis.)
Lasers work by producing a concentrated beam of light to essentially damage the hair follicle. The laser light targets the melanin (pigment) in the hair and causes a heat reaction inside the hair follicle at the root. This damages the follicle and dries up the nutrient supply which gives the hair life.
Not all of our hairs are in what we call the “growth” stage.
In order for the laser to effectively destroy the hair follicle, it must be still attached at the root. Here is a little visual to show you the 4 stages of hair growth. See how in all but the first photo the bulb of the hair is detached and moved away from its nutrient supply? This means that the laser energy will be absorbed in the wrong part of the hair follicle…which ends up causing little to no damage to the hair root.
Different body parts have different stages of growth and different percentages of hair in each cycle. This is the exact reason why it is unfortunately not a one-time thing. Seriously, can they not just invent a full body zap. I picture the security pod at the airport just scanning be from the eyebrows done and voila- bye bye hair. A girl can dream, right?
Although the process of laser hair removal effectively delays the hair growth cycle for long periods of time, it usually will not result in 100% permanent hair removal. Our body, as I mentioned before in previous blogs, likes to repair itself. Over time, these follicles can come out of their dormant state and future sessions are required.
What should you realistically expect?
On average most patients require 6-8 sessions for what we would consider successful completion of laser hair removal. This original series is done over the course of 12-24 months.
Immediately after your session, you can expect to see normal growth for 7-14 days. Then whatever hairs were in the anagen phase will begin to fall out, and the new growth will be less.
After each session, you should see your hair start to become finer, lighter, grow slower, and eventually have significant areas with no hair at all.
We consider laser hair removal to be successful when 80+ percent of the hairs do not grow back. The remaining 20% will be comprised of smaller blonde baby hairs and about 10% of random stubborn fine yet possibly darker hairs. For example, on my underarms, I have about 8 hairs that grow at a very slow pace that are not noticeable to others unless you are well within my personal bubble, lol.
Timing is everything….
Making sure that you stick to the schedule we create for you is key to successful treatment. When we say come in 8 weeks, it is not a suggestion it’s a guideline based on best practices to get you optimal results. So, do your absolute best to stay on schedule if you want to catch those hairs at the right time, and save yourself needing additional sessions.
Unfortunately, as not all areas have the same growth cycle that means, for those looking to treat multiple areas, you may be making extra trips to the clinic.
Here is a recommended guideline per area based on our EliteIQ laser
I’ve finished my initial series, now what?
You’re done, and super stocked about the lack of hair in your life, now it is time to protect your investment. My general rule of thumb for anyone under 40 is to come once a year for maintenance. I personally do mine every May so I am good to go all summer. I’m going on 15 years since I first lasered my underarms, and the only time I ever felt I got a bit of an influx of hair was right after I had my son.
Hormonal changes are the biggest factor in causing the hairs to come out of their dormant state. This is why men usually are pretty good with very minimal maintenance. I have a few that come to me every 4-5 years for touch-ups on their back or chest, but regrowth is minimal. For women post-menopause, as long as we aren’t talking about the face, it is rare they ever feel they need a touch-up.
Stay on top of it…
Watch your hair and come in if you feel you have a surge of growth AND try not to shave all the time. Sometimes I find we have this bad habit of just shaving all over in the shower when we really don’t need to. Look at the area, shave where needed and let the rest be.
Still, even with having to do my yearly maintenance, I can’t tell you how nice it is to go on vacation and not have to worry about shaving.
The good thing is that your hairs usually will never go back to full growth and thickness. So even if you did laser years ago, but never did any maintenance, you can still get back to hair-free life in usually only 2-3 sessions.
If you are interested in laser hair or have questions—Let’s talk!
As always, Your Skin Revival,