The desire for permanent hair removal in both men and women has created a worldwide craze – Laser Hair Removal. People are queuing up at clinics around the world hoping for the miracle cure to rid themselves permanently of hair in undesirable places. But for permanent hair reduction, the bare reality is that it is very rare that just one session of laser treatment will give the desired result. And here’s why:
Some say YES, some say NO. Studies show that the best-known method of achieving permanent hair removal is Laser Hair Removal, and if the procedure is performed correctly (using the right equipment), permanency is definitely possible. That’s because laser hair removal actually kills the hair follicle, which impairs it’s ability to grow. But you need to get the hair at the right stage in the growth cycle to ensure permanent hair removal, which means that you will need to undergo a number of treatments.
You see, hair grows in 3 stages, and Laser treatment in the first growth stage (Anagen stage) is the best for permanent reduction. Laser treatment in the other 2 stages (Categen and Telogen) can be less effective, because in these stages new hairs are being formed which may not be target-able by the Laser. So for permanency you will need to undergo a number of laser treatments over time to kill all the hair follicles in that region.
Everyone’s hair grows differently, depending on their age, weight, metabolism, hormonal interactions, genetics, medications and environmental influences. Irrespective of this, hair grows in a cycle which has 3 distinct stages, and the ability of the Laser to target and destroy the hair follicle actually depends on the stage of the hair in the growth cycle. That is because the Lasers used in hair removal actually target the pigment in the hair to “zero in” on the hair follicle. In the initial growth stage of hair, there is more pigment in the hair, thus the Laser is more effective.
Following is an overview of the 3 different hair growth cycle stages, and how effective laser treatment is in each of these stages:
The ACTIVE or ANAGEN growth phase (lasts 2-6 years), comprises approximately 85 % of our body hair at any given moment in time. During this ANAGEN phase, the hair shaft and follicle has an abundance of pigment and is most sensitive to the laser light. So in this stage, permanent hair removal is very likely. The Laser will destroy the hair follicle and no new hair will grow.
The REGRESSIVE or CATAGEN phase (lasts 1-2 weeks) is the period during which the hair stops actively growing but is not shed. This phase often lasts several weeks comprising about 3 – 4% of our total body hair at any given time. In the early part of this stage, you can expect the same results as in the ANAGEN stage. But later in this stage, a new hair might already be forming, and because it will have no pigment yet, it won’t be destroyed.
The RESTING or TELOGEN phase lasts 5 – 6 weeks, at the end of which the hair falls out and a new hair begins to form. Approximately 10-13% of our body hair is in this phase at any one time. Again, the new hair will not have any pigment and the laser will not be able to target it. This new hair will shortly enter the ANAGEN stage, and if it is exposed to a Laser treatment when it has entered the ANAGEN stage, then permanency can be expected.
In summary, each hair on your body will naturally be at a different part of the growth cycle, and that is why it will be necessary in most cases to undergo a number of Laser hair Removal treatments at varying intervals to completely destroy all hair follicles in the region you are targeting. You might be lucky and destroy more than 85% of the hair follicles in the target region with just one treatment, but the statistics point towards needing at least 2 treatments (possibly 3 or more) to totally destroy all hair follicles in any part of the body.