Is Laser Hair Removal Permanent?

August 13, 2010 in Hair Removal 101,Laser hair removal,Electrolysis

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Whether laser hair removal is permanent or not is widely discussed, and there are those who claim that it is absolutely is, while others say that no hair removal is forever.

Laser hair removal did not appear on the market until the 90’s and has consistently improved in terms of effectiveness,  so in medical terms it is still early to discuss permanent or life-long results. However, the concept “long term results” is a common way of describing what can be expected. Long term results usually means that after an observation period of 10 years or more, there has not been a recurrence of hair growth. No one can promise life long results, though long term results can be satisfactory enough.

While it is possible for the hair to disappear with laser hair removal, this is not a guarantee. Scientific studies with follow-up periods of up to 2 years after treatment show satisfactory results. The result, however, does not include hair that appears due to hormonal changes in the body.

The goal in laser hair removal is to send enough heat down the hair follicle so it can be destroyed. If this is not done properly the hair follicle will continue to produce hair, even though the hairs might appear less visible. Laser hair removal will not work well on everyone, though a person with dark hair and light skin can usually expect better results than others. Results may also be different in different areas of the body and can vary with age and hormonal status. For example, beard growth is more difficult to treat than the hair on the rest of the body. The hair follicles that are destroyed are not likely to appear again, but it is theoretically possible for new hair follicles to emerge. Therefore, the occasional maintenance treatment is likely to be needed.

Certain types of hair need more treatments, and the exact number of treatments required depends on your skin color, hair color, thickness of hair and the treatment area. What type of laser you choose is also important in deciding how permanent the hair removal will be. Some lasers are more effective than others.

Hair grows in different phases: the active growth phase, transition phase, and resting phase. It is only the growing hair that can be destroyed. The hair that is in resting phase is not affected by the laser. When passive hair follicles become active you will need a new treatment. A minimum of 3 to 5 treatments is needed, and there should be 6-8 weeks between treatments to avoid skin irritation.

It is important not to have unrealistic expectations when it comes to laser hair removal, as hair cannot be vanished in a short time frame. Laser hair removal is a long term procedure, and several treatments are needed before satisfactory results can be seen. However, when the hair is gone, you will appreciate never having to shave, wax or pluck again, or at least for long.

Photo via Pak Gwei

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