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Laser Treatment and Re-Growth

By: Richa Bhatia - Updated: 26 Apr 2012 | comments*Discuss
Laser Hair Removal And Re-growth

Laser hair removal may be a miracle for some and for others; it may not achieve the desired results. It is important to be aware of the fact that laser hair removal is not a completely permanent method of hair removal, but only a long-lasting one and that the results vary from person to person.

The main problem with laser hair removal is the high frequency of re-growth observed after treatment. Since it acts by targeting the hair follicle, ideally, it should not be causing any re-growth, but, in reality, it does, because of various other factors affecting hair growth and laser efficacy.

Re-growth after Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal actually causes a ‘permanent or long-term reduction in hair growth’, not a ‘permanent removal’. A study defines long-term hair reduction as a ‘‘significant reduction in the terminal hairs after treatment, for a stable period longer than the complete growth cycle of the hair follicles on that particular body part’’.

The re-growth that appears after laser hair removal is paler and finer. The density of hair re-growth varies from person to person. Since laser hair removal is a very new technique and only a couple of years have passed since its inception, it has not been possible to evaluate the re-growth rates after a number of years of treatment.

Studies Documenting Hair Re-growth after Laser Hair removal

  • A study conducted by the University of California, USA on patients using Ruby Laser has demonstrated that ‘‘the mean percent of re-growth after the first treatment was 65.5%, 41% after the second treatment, and 34% after the third treatment. Overall, regardless of skin type or targeted body region, patients who underwent three treatment sessions demonstrated an average 35% re-growth in terminal hair count compared with baseline pretreatment values 6 months after initial therapy’’.

  • Another study done by doctors at the Wellman Labs of Photomedicine, Harvard Medical School, using pulsed diode lasers demonstrated that there were “two different effects on hair growth: hair growth delay and long-term reduction. A measurable growth delay was seen in all patients (100%) at all fluence/pulse width configurations tested; this growth delay was sustainable for 1-3 months. Hair re-growth stabilized at 6 months at all fluences; there was no further hair re-growth between 6, 9 and 12 months. In addition to statistically significant hair reduction, treatment with the laser also showed reduction in hair diameter and reduction in colour of re-growing hairs. Long-term hair reduction occurred in 89% of the patients. Many patients had nearly complete, long-term hair reduction after two treatments, while a few had little or no long-term hair reduction”.

These studies shed light on the general re-growth patterns, but, the re-growth rates essentially vary from individual to individual and so, no clear, fixed data can be used to predict laser efficacy and re-growth rates for individual cases.

Factors Affecting Re-growth after Laser Hair Removal

The re-growth rates are variable, depending on a number of factors like the responsiveness of the individual to laser, colour of hair, body area treated, the type and intensity of laser beam used and the efficiency of the laser professional. Other factors that also contribute include previous methods of hair removal used for the treated area, phase of growth cycle of the hair being treated and any underlying medical condition.

Like electrolysis, the re-growth that appears a few weeks after a treatment session is mostly due to hair that was not treated in that session as they may not have been in the right phase of the growth cycle, i.e., the ‘anagen’ or growth phase.

The following are some of the factors affecting hair re-growth after laser hair removal:

Body Area Treated

The re-growth rates vary depending on the body area treated. There are some laser candidates who respond well for certain body areas, while exhibiting significant re-growth for other body areas. For example, the hairs on the chin are usually more stubborn, so this area may show more re-growth or may not be as responsive to treatment. Upper lip hairs, in most people, respond extremely well, and around 95 per cent hair reduction is reported by most patients after 2 years of treatment.

Colour of Hair

Dark haired people are the ideal candidates for laser hair removal. Laser is not effective for red, grey or blonde hair.

Responsiveness of the Individual

The variation in results between individuals is also because the responsiveness to laser hair removal differs greatly in different people. A small percentage of patients may not respond at all. These will typically experience the greatest re-growth of hair. Before undergoing laser hair removal, one should take a proper consultation with a laser specialist to assess his/her suitability for laser hair removal and the result expected.

Any Underlying Medical Condition

If the person has excess hair growth due to any underlying medical condition like polycystic ovarian disease, or a hormonal imbalance due to adverse effects of medication, or any other endocrinological problem, he/she should consult a physician for more advice and evaluation before undergoing laser hair removal.

Previous Methods of Hair Removal Used

Re-growth rates also depend on whether the client has used any other method of hair removal like waxing or epilating in the past 4-6 weeks. These methods remove hair from the root and thus, will interfere with the functioning of laser which acts on the hair root.

Type and Intensity of Laser Beam Used

Re-growth rates also depend on the strength and intensity of laser beam used. A lower- than-required strength of laser beams causes less discomfort to the patient, but, the result is far from permanent. The strength of the laser beam should be tuned by the laser professional according to individual requirements.

Most patients require a small number of additional sessions, to remove the re-growth appearing after a year or so of treatment completion. If you like the prospects of a pain- free, fast and lasting hair removal, you can try laser hair removal and see for yourself whether it suits you!

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