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Is Laser Hair Removal Permanent?

When waxing becomes too expensive and shaving too inconvenient, there comes the time to change your hair removal method. But what for? Surely chemical creams are the thing. Why switch for an equally inconvenient method? Laser hair removal on the other hand is safe, convenient and cost effective. Is it permanent though?

That is the question isn’t it. There are a lot of myths about laser hair removal but no one can agree on whether or no the treatment is permanent. If you are about to spend your money, you need to have an answer. We get you. At Spektrum Laser Spa, we care about your happiness and to be transparent with you.

So, is laser hair removal permanent or not?

How does laser hair removal work?

Laser hair removal is a fairly new hair removal method. Major findings started to show back in the 70s. However, it is at the end of the 90s that the FDA approved the first laser for laser hair removal. From then on, the technique has only grown in popularity and is now a great alternative to waxing or shaving.

Laser hair removal uses a concept called selective photothermolysis. It is the matching of a wavelength and a pulse duration that will allow the laser to target a specific object. This object will match specific conditions. No surrounding tissues will be damaged by the laser. In the context of laser hair removal, this object is the melanin in the hair.

During a laser hair removal session, the light emitted by the laser targets the pigment in the hair. When the melanin absorbs the energy, the latter will travel all the way down to the follicle. There, the light will turn into thermal energy and anchor itself to the follicle. The heat will damage the follicle, preventing any further growth.

The hair growth cycle, six weeks and six sessions

One step towards knowing whether laser hair removal is permanent is to know the hair growth cycle. What is it? Simply the three phases of growth through which each hair goes. The thing with laser hair removal is that it is only efficient when the hair is in the anagen phase of growth. 

Indeed, it is the only time when the hair and the follicle connect, allowing the energy to travel from the former to the latter. Unfortunately, only 20% of all body hair is in the Anagen phase of growth at any point in time. Therefore, one session can only treat up to 20% of hair. This explains why a treatment always includes several sessions.

Patients must wait six weeks between each laser session. This will give time for the follicle to  produce a new hair. The latter will be in the Anagen phase of growth during the next session and will be treatable. The unpredictability of each hair’s growth explains why patients need multiple sessions every six weeks.

Is laser hair removal actually permanent?

Now, back to the topic at hand. Is laser hair removal actually permanent? According to the FDA, it is not. Indeed, laser hair removal is a very recent hair removal method. Much newer than electrolysis which has been around for over a century. Not only has the method perfected but also been the subject of a lot of long-term research.

As of right now, there is not enough long-term research on laser hair removal to guarantee that its results are indeed permanent. For laser hair removal to be permanent, the treatment would need to completely destroy the follicle. It does it for some, but will only damage some others. Successive treatment will achieve a result close to permanent.

Furthermore, even after your initial six sessions, it is no guarantee that you are rid of all your body hair. As explained above, the hair growth cycle occurs in phases. It can also be influenced by hormone levels and medication. Not only is it possible that some hair may have slipped through the net but that some patients may need additional sessions.

How long does it last?

As per the FDA standards, laser hair removal is not permanent. However, that does not mean that patients cannot achieve a permanent result. Some patients will achieve permanent hair removal after six sessions. Others after eight sessions. Some others will need touch-ups sessions once a year.

The results of a laser hair removal treatment depends on many factors. Genetics, skin tone, hair color, hormone levels, medication, past hair removal history, etc all play a role. Laser hair removal is a long-term hair growth reduction method. It can reduce hair growth by up to 95%. People who have been waxing for years and already have damaged follicles may see faster results.

To ensure the efficiency of each session and of the overall treatment, there are a few precautions to take. First, patients should stop waxing. Waxing removes both the hair and the root, leaving nothing for the laser to target. Patients must stay away from the sun during the 15 days prior to and after their session. Artificial tanning puts the skin into an exciting state, which can interfere with the treatment.

Can hair growth start again after a treatment?

Laser hair removal is not permanent. It is a hair-growth reduction method that will damage the hair follicle. However it is possible that years later, a follicle regenerates and starts producing new hair again. Fortunately, when that happens, the hair that grows back is very thin and light, and therefore not as noticeable.

Other factors may trigger hair growth, such big hormone level changes. Transitioning male to female will incur high hormone level which can have an impact on the hair growth cycle. Pregnancy triggers high levels of hormone, even in areas where there was no hair before. In case of a pregnancy, patients need to pause their treatment.

Other small growth can be dealt with with a touch-up session one or so a year. Even if laser hair removal is not classified as permanent by the FDA, a lot of patients do indeed achieve permanent hair removal. This again will depend from one person to another, their hair color, skin color, etc.

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