Dermatologist Answers: How Long Does Laser Hair Removal Last?

There is a growing demand among individuals to secure a permanent solution to get rid of unwanted hair. This is why laser hair removal has risen in popularity. However, according to a recent trend, it has been regarded as a scam by some of the users on TikTok. Understanding the duration of laser hair removal is crucial for proper planning and managing expectations. Here are a dermatologist's insights on laser hair removal treatment.

What is laser hair removal?

Laser hair removal is a procedure that makes use of focused beams of light to eliminate unwanted hair. The laser is focused on the pigment in the hair follicles, destroying them, which disrupts further hair growth. This procedure has been widely utilized for hair removal on the face, underarms, legs, bikini line, and other areas as per one’s requirement. Therefore, it is quite a popular option for hair removal as it provides long-lasting results and serves as an alternative to other hair removal techniques such as waxing, shaving, and tweezing.

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Below is a list of some laser types that are used for hair removal:

  • Ruby laser
  • Alexandrite laser
  • Diode laser
  • Nd: Yag laser

Every laser has its own merits and works best according to different skin and hair types. For example, ruby and alexandrite lasers are more suitable for those with lighter skin types; on the other hand, those with a darker skin type should opt for diode and Nd: Yag lasers.

How long does laser hair removal last?

Contrary to the claims made on TikTok, laser hair removal can provide long-lasting results, although it may not be considered truly permanent in all cases. However, the duration of the results may vary from person to person as it depends on various factors, such as hair and skin type, area of the body receiving laser treatment, types of laser being used for the treatment, and underlying hormonal influences.

Laser removal of body hair treatment can yield long-lasting effects after a full course of treatment, which typically consists of 4–6 sessions spaced 6–8 weeks apart. Maintenance hair removal sessions are required after completing the full course but with an increased duration between sessions. In most cases, the regrowth after the full course is fine, sparse, and less apparent. This is because hair follicles are damaged by laser hair removal, thereby making it challenging for hair to regrow.

Facial hair growth usually occurs as a result of hormonal imbalances, like polycystic ovarian syndrome. Facial hair removal with laser can also be long-lasting after a full course of treatment, which typically consists of 6–8 sessions spaced 4–6 weeks apart. Although this is the typical treatment protocol, specialists may recommend a different number of sessions or intervals between sessions based on individual factors. Like body laser hair removal, maintenance treatment sessions are also required for the face after completing the full course.

Factors that affect laser hair removal results

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Laser treatment effectiveness depends on many factors, such as:

Skin tone and hair color

This treatment works well and is best suited for people who have a lighter skin tone and dark, thick hair. It is because the contrast makes it easier to target pigment in the hair follicles.

Hair growth cycles

Laser hair removal procedure is most effective during the active growth (anagen) phase of our hair cycle.

Hormonal changes

Hormonal imbalances and fluctuations lead to an increase in hair growth and regrowth. Several medical conditions, such as menopause, thyroid disorders, and polycystic ovarian syndrome, disrupt effective results after laser treatment.

Treatment intervals

The interval time between sessions of laser hair removal can also play an important role in determining the overall effectiveness of this procedure. The treatments are typically spaced several weeks apart to allow the hair follicles to regrow and be targeted again.

Maintenance sessions

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Maintenance sessions are necessary for maintaining the results of laser hair removal. Such sessions are set several months apart, depending on the hair growth.

Benefits of laser hair removal

Laser hair removal has several benefits when compared to other hair removal methods, such as:

  • Long-lasting results. Laser hair removal offers long-lasting results if treatment is carried out properly.
  • Reduced ingrown hair. The occurrence of ingrown hair is reduced by laser hair removal, which is common with shaving and waxing.

Risks of laser hair removal

Even though laser hair removal treatment is safe when performed by a qualified professional, there are some risks and adverse side effects associated with it, such as:

  • Skin irritation. Temporary discomfort, redness, and swelling may occur after the procedure.
  • Scarring. In rare instances, laser hair removal may result in scarring or changes in the skin texture if not performed by professionals.
  • Paradoxical hypertrichosis. This is also a rare instance where laser hair removal may lead to the growth of thicker and darker hair.
  • Pigment changes. Laser hair removal may cause temporary or permanent changes in skin pigmentation, particularly in people with darker skin tones.

It's important to highlight that laser hair removal treatment is not suitable for people with medical conditions, such as skin cancer or active infections.

What about home lasers?

While home laser hair removal devices are available, they may not be as safe or effective as professional treatments. There is also limited research regarding their long-term hair removal compared to other available treatments. If you’re using a home-based laser hair removal device, it is important to follow the instructions and take precautions to avoid injury, especially to the eyes. Remember to choose only FDA-approved devices for safe at-home treatment.

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Laser hair removal may be an effective solution for long-lasting hair reduction, but it's important to have realistic expectations and understand that results can vary from person to person. By consulting with a certified laser hair removal specialist or a board-certified dermatologist and considering the benefits and potential risks, you can make an informed decision about whether laser hair removal is right for you.

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