Laser epilation damages or completely destroys the hair follicle.
Laser Hair Removal
Laser epilation damages or completely destroys the hair follicle. It is a form of long-term epilation. However, hair may regrow, especially if the follicle was damaged and not destroyed during laser hair removal. For this reason, many doctors now refer to laser hair removal as long-term hair removal rather than permanent hair removal.
How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
When the hair root is destroyed, laser hair removal is permanent. The light travels down the hair shaft and into the hair follicle. The heat of the laser light destroys the hair follicle and no more hair can grow from it.
Hair follows a unique growth cycle that includes periods of rest, shedding and growth. Newly removed hair that is at rest will not be visible to the technician or laser, so the person may have to wait for the hair to regrow before removing it. For many people it requires several sessions over 2 or 3 months.
Is Laser Hair Removal Permanent?
Epilation in a worn hair follicle is permanent. However, people who have epilated can expect some of the hair in the targeted area to regrow.
Over time, it is possible to re-treat the area to reduce the number of regrowths. In some cases, it may even be possible to remove all hairs. Hair regrowth depends on many factors, including the type of hair that regrows and the person’s ability to remove hair.
Most people find that when the hair regrows, it is lighter and less noticeable than before. This is because the laser can still damage the hair follicle even if it fails to destroy it.
If a hair follicle is damaged but not destroyed, the hair will eventually regrow. It can be difficult to destroy every single hair follicle, so most people will find that the hairs regrow. It is possible to re-treat when the hairs regrow, so people who want to remove all the hair may need several treatments. In some cases, the hairs may be too light, too short, or resistant to treatment. In these cases, the person may choose to use other hair removal methods, such as plucking.
How Long Does Laser Hair Removal Take?
Laser hair removal is permanent when the hair follicle is destroyed. When the hair follicle is only damaged, the hair will eventually regrow. The time it takes for the hair to regrow depends on the individual’s unique hair growth cycle. Some people have hair that grows faster than others. Hair in the resting phase grows more slowly than hair in another phase.
Most people can expect their hair to regrow within a few months. When this happens, they may opt for more lifting treatments.
Does Skin Color or Hair Color Matter?
People with fair skin and dark hair may need less treatment than others. Hair removal works best for people with fair skin and dark hair. This is because the pigment contrast makes it easier for the laser to target the hair, enter and destroy the follicle.
People with dark skin or light hair may need more treatment than others and may see more hair regrowth. To permanently remove hair, the technician must know how to target hairs and choose the right type of laser.
What are the Side Effects and Risks?
Some people may experience burning, stinging or discomfort during laser epilation. For this reason, many technicians apply numbing cream to the area they are treating. However, some people may have an allergic reaction or skin irritation in response to the numbing cream.
Minor side effects are common and may include:
- Changes in skin color that are usually temporary, especially in dark-skinned people
- Skin redness
- Blistering or crusting of the skin
Sometimes the irritation associated with epilation can cause scarring. Damaged skin can also become infected. Providing a detailed medical history and discussing the risks and benefits can help the provider determine the right treatment and reduce the risk of serious side effects. After epilation, the person should avoid sun exposure.