How Soon Can Results Be Seen with Laser Hair Removal?
Having taken the decision to invest in a laser treatment program for hair removal, it is perfectly natural to be keen to see the results as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to the question about how soon results can be seen.
This article aims to provide guidelines as to what you may reasonably expect, as well as explaining the reasons why so many sessions will be required and why the desired outcome will take time to achieve.
Why Multiple Sessions are Needed
How Laser Hair Removal Works
In order to understand why results are not immediate, the first thing to consider is how laser hair removal actually works.
Without going into too much detail, the light beam from the laser targets melanin (the dark pigment found in hair and skin which gives it its colour), which is found in concentration around the base of the hair follicle.
This produces heat which damages the follicle, causing the hair to fall out, approximately 1 -2 weeks after treatment. The aim is to cause enough damage to disable the follicle permanently.
It therefore follows that some results may be seen shortly after the first treatment.
Stages of Hair Growth
The next thing to consider is the various stages of hair growth and their significance to laser hair removal.
Basically, hair growth occurs in 3 phases; the growth phase (Anagen), the transitional phase (Catagen) and the resting phase (Telogen), and there are always hairs at each phase at any given time. This cycle repeats itself continuously, with the length of each cycle varying depending on area of the body.
Laser hair removal is only effective on hairs in the growing stage, so at any given time only a certain percentage of the hair in the treatment area will be removed.
It is easy to see from this, why multiple sessions are usually required. Results usually become more noticeable after about 3 sessions.
Factors Affecting Time for Results
Part of the Body Treated
A major factor determining the length of time required to see optimum results is the area of the body being treated.
It stands to reason that the larger the area and the denser the hair being treated, the more sessions are likely to be required.
Also, as mentioned previously, the growth cycle varies depending upon where the hair is situated on the body. This will determine the time likely to be needed between treatments and how long before significant results will be seen.
The table below illustrates average growth cycles by body part
As hair growth is genetically determined, this table is just an illustrative guide as to average growth cycles and may vary from person to person.
The first few treatments are likely to be at intervals of between 4 - 6 weeks, depending on the area, to try to catch as many hairs as possible within the growing stage.
After these initial treatments, timing in between is likely to become longer and based on when new hair growth becomes noticeable.
As previously mentioned, growth cycles are genetically determined, which means that reaction to laser treatment will vary depending on the individual's genetic make-up.
There is anecdotal evidence that some lucky individuals achieve excellent results within a very short timespan, some even claiming to have achieved permanent hair removal.
Conversely, however, there are individuals for whom laser treatment has not worked at all.
This makes it impossible to give a firm guarantee as to how long it will take for results to be seen, and we would advice caution before using any clinic that claims otherwise.
A patch test should be offered at least 2 weeks prior to treatment commencing. This should give an indication as to the likely efficacy of laser hair removal for the individual concerned.
It is important to be aware that laser hair removal is currently not suitable for all skin and hair types i.e. for those with grey, fair or light red hair. For permanent results, electrolysis is therefore likely to be a good option.
In the past, laser hair removal has only been effective for those with light skin and dark hair, however technology has advanced and there are certain lasers e.g. Nd:YAG, that can now effectively treat those with darker skin tones.
Be sure to check that the correct laser for your skin type is being used.
In summary, it is not possible to give a cast iron guarantee as to how long it will take to see your desired results, however:
- Some results will be noticeable from 1 - 2 weeks following the first treatment.
- Results will become more noticeable after each treatment.
- Number of treatments likely to be between 6 - 8 depending on area and body part
- Time between treatments will vary between 4 - 6 weeks
For more in-depth information regarding laser hair removal see our articles: