How Does Hair Grow Back After Laser Hair Removal?

Close-up of a woman having a laser hair removal procedure in a spa setting. (Image: AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images)

Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal isn't a permanent solution for unwanted hair, so you'll eventually experience hair growth after a procedure. This is largely due to the fact that this method of hair removal only forces the follicles into a prolonged dormancy. It doesn't remove the follicle from the skin. According to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, the laser emits a low-energy beam of light that penetrates the skin. This energy is then absorbed by the melanin responsible for the pigmentation of the hair, heating the follicle and essentially destroying its structure. The hair is removed, but the follicle remains intact. The number of visits required varies from person to person based on a number of different factors, including skin tone, hair color, removal location and personal expectations.

Hair Growth

The Mayo Clinic says it should take between six to eight sessions to achieve the desired results. Sessions are administered every four to six weeks. This is because only hairs affected by the laser are those currently in the anagen phase, which is the active phase in which your hair grows in length. Any hairs in the catagen or telogen phase aren't necessarily damaged to the point of growth reduction. This means you can expect to see hair growth after your first session, though it will generally be much less dense. Each treatment should cause a reduction of between 10 percent and 25 percent in hair growth, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Texture and Color

Although laser hair removal won't permanently stop hair from growing, you can experience many years of "hair-free" skin, especially when you go in for periodic maintenance appointments. Maintenance appointments are similar to standard appointments, because the doctor or dermatologist targets the laser over previously treated areas of the skin. The hair that does eventually grow back typically returns much finer and lighter than before, as indicated by the American Academy of Dermatology, so areas that were once problematic may be less bothersome even when the hair grows back.

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