How Long does Laser Hair Removal Last?
There is no simple, straightforward answer to this question as it largely depends on the skin and hair type of the individual, how well the treated area responds at each session and the type of laser used. It is true to say though, that laser hair removal is not, in any case, a one-off treatment.
Conditions for Effective Laser Hair Removal
Who does Laser Work Best for?
Laser treatments tend to work best for those with light skin and darker hair. This is because the light beam of the laser targets melanin, a dark pigment found in higher concentration near the base of the hair follicle. The lower levels of melanin found in light hair contrasts less with the skin, making it more difficult for the laser to detect.
Laser for Darker Skin
Similarly, as dark skin contains more melanin, it consequently has reduced contrast with the melanin found at around the hair follicle. There are now some newer lasers specifically developed for those with darker skin i.e. Nd:Yag and Diode lasers, which have had some success.
What Permanent Hair Reduction Actually Means
The definition of permanent hair reduction is considered to be the long term stable reduction in the regrowth of hairs after completion of a treatment programme. This is not to be confused with permanent hair removal. More information about permanent hair reduction.
How many treatments are needed for permanent hair reduction?
According to the laser hair removal factsheet published by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery it is “truly impossible to determine in advance who will require how many treatments and how long the hair will remain gone”.
Generally, most individuals will need 6 – 8 treatments to produce “permanent hair reduction” as defined by the FDA (US Food and Drugs Administration) and sometimes more.
Factors affecting results
- Area of body
- Normal hair growth pattern
- Skin colour
- Hair colour and courseness
- Genetics and health conditions
Why a Single Treatment is Not Enough
The reason for so many treatments is that there are several stages of growth in hair and all hair follicles are not at the same stage at the same time.
Laser beams target hairs at the actively growing stage, and so not all hairs in the treatment area will be affected by a single session. Read more about the lifecycle of a hair.
How Often Can You Repeat the Treatment
The length of time between sessions will vary between 3 – 8 weeks according to a number of factors. Shedding takes 2 – 3 weeks and works best if it is allowed to occur naturally and fall out on its own.
In general though, the best way to estimate time between treatments is to use the regrowth of hair as a guide e.g. facial hair grows faster than lower body hair and therefore laser removal treatments should be carried out more often on the face (every 4 – 6 weeks) than on the legs (approximately every 8 – 10 weeks).
Hair Regrowth rates by Body Part
Following the initial treatment regime, it will usually be necessary to have follow up sessions at least annually, and in some cases 6 monthly.
Although the FDA recognises laser hair removal as producing permanent hair reduction, some individuals have experienced complete regrowth in the years following final treatment and a majority have at least experienced partial regrowth.