How Many Treatments are Needed for Laser Hair Removal?
One of the important decision factors concerning laser hair removal is the number of treatments that are required to see results. Here is what you need to know:-
In A Nutshell: The number of initial laser treatments required is likely to be between 6 – 8, depending various factors (outlined below). In addition, you will probably require annual top-up sessions or, in some cases, twice a year. This should produce permanent hair reduction of up to 80% (FDA recognised) but will not actually result in permanent hair removal.
However: There is no definitive answer due to the fact that it varies, depending upon a variety of factors:
- Area of the body - normal growth cycles
- Hair and skin type
- How much hair is to be removed
- Individual reaction and type of laser used
Read on to learn more about these factors...
Area of the Body
The normal growth cycle of your hair differs depending on which part of the body it inhabits. There are 3 stages of hair growth, namely the growing stage, otherwise known as anagen, the transitional stage, known as Catagen and finally the resting stage, known as Telogen. For more information see our article: “Lifecycle of a Hair and Electrolysis/Laser Hair Removal”.
Due to the fact that lasers are only effective on hairs in the growing stage, the number of treatments required and the length of time between each treatment will largely depend upon the length of the average growth cycle.
The table shown below gives an indication of the growth cycle for each body part but it must be borne in mind that hair growth is genetically determined and so will differ slightly from person to person.
Hair Growth by Body Part
As a rule of thumb, most people will require between 6 – 8 initial treatments, with a gap of 3 – 8 weeks between each, to achieve significant (up to 80%) hair reduction. Using the table, you can see that the gap will, for example be less for upper lip and armpits than for arms and legs.
Hair and Skin Type
Lasers have always worked best on those with light skin and dark hair and although technology is advancing rapidly, this is still generally the case. Lasers target melanin, a dark pigment found around the hair follicle and in skin. There is naturally more melanin in dark skin, and therefore it is more difficult for the laser to focus on its target.
Lasers do not work well for fine, light, grey, red or white hair.
Amount of Hair to be Removed
Unsurprisingly, the number of treatments required to achieve your ideal results are likely to increase in line with the amount of hair to be removed. The initial number of treatments may still be between 6 and 8 but the number of follow up treatments is likely to be more.
This is partly due to the fact that laser hair removal is generally considered to be a permanent solution for reducing rather than permanently removing hair altogether and so, for dense areas of hair you may require more treatments to achieve your desired results.
Another reason is that, although the treated hair follicles may not be regrowing hair, there are some hair follicles that you are born with that lie dormant, and which may spring into life, producing new hairs.
Age and Gender
As an individual grows older, both men and women often see a natural increase in hair growth. In particular, women may experience an increase in unwanted facial hair. It is possible, therefore, that a previously satisfactory area may require treatment over time.
Traditionally, laser treatment has been used for female hair removal, however there has been a significant rise in the number of men seeking treatment. The nature of the hair that most men wish to remove i.e. back, chest etc, which tends to be coarse and dark, on areas of the skin not regularly exposed to sunlight, is ideal for laser treatment.
Individual Reaction and Type of Laser
As previously stated, skin type and hair growth cycles are genetically determined and therefore vary between individuals. This also means that reaction to laser treatment will vary from person to person. The type of laser used, therefore, is very important and it is essential that, when choosing a treatment centre, you base your decision upon the practitioner’s qualifications, experience and reputation rather than cost.
For further information see articles: “How to Find a Reputable Laser Hair Removal Clinic” and “How to Check if a Laser Device is FDA Approved and Safe”
In summary, the number of initial laser treatments required is likely to be between 6 – 8, depending on the various factors outlined. In addition, you will probably require annual top-up sessions or, in some cases, twice a year. This should produce permanent hair reduction of up to 80% (FDA recognised) but will not actually result in permanent hair removal.
There have been reports of some lucky individuals who have experienced permanent hair removal through laser treatment but, equally, there have been others who have experienced complete regrowth of hair in the years following their last session.