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How Many Sessions Do You Need for Successful Laser Hair Removal?

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Dr. Hardik Soni

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Laser hair removal can be a huge relief to anyone who has struggled with their unwanted body and facial hair for years. With a few laser hair removal sessions, you can say goodbye to shaving, waxing, threading, and all the pain and hassle that come with these other hair removal methods.

But exactly how many sessions of laser hair removal do you need for permanent results? The exact number of laser hair removal treatments a patient needs depends on a case-by-case basis – factoring in the size of the area being treated and the density of the treated hair – but patients can generally expect 4-6 sessions for best immediate results.

For permanent results, you will then need maintenance treatments once or twice a year after.

Why Do You Need Multiple Laser Hair Removal Sessions?

Many patients of lasers ask why multiple sessions are required. If laser hair removal works, why can the entire treatment not be completed in a single session? To understand this, we must understand how the hair growth cycle works. Hair growth occurs in three cycles, and lasers can only successfully treat hair once it’s in the right cycle for treatment.

The three cycles of hair growth are:

  • Anagen: The anagen phase is the first and most visible stage of the hair growth cycle. This is the stage when lasers work best, as the follicle is most exposed because the body hair is above the skin.
  • Catagen: The catagen phase is between the growth stage (anagen) and the rest stage (telogen). During this stage, hair will leave the papilla, or the protrusion from your skin where the hair is attached. This is when people typically shed their hair and it comes out during sleep or grooming yourself. Laser treatment typically doesn’t work during this stage, as the hair detaches before the lasers can travel down it to the follicle. This is the shortest stage, lasting just 2-3 days.
  • Telogen: The telogen phase is known as the rest phase, when the hair sheds and the follicles become dormant. Unlike the other phases of the hair cycle, the telogen phase can last as long as needed – sometimes it can last just a few days, other times it can last a few years. Lasers cannot affect the follicle at all during this stage.

To successfully treat an entire part of the face or body of all skin types with laser treatments, all of the hair must be treated while it is in the anagen stage. Typically, you can expect anywhere from 10% to 25% of your hair to be in the anagen at any time, which is why patients generally see a 10% to 25% reduction of hair growth after a single session.

This is why laser hair sessions are spaced 2-4 weeks apart, depending on what your doctor thinks you need. This spreads the sessions enough to give your hair enough time to move from one stage to the next to properly get rid of it. As some hair can stay in the telogen stage for months if not years before growing hair again, some patients see slight unexpected hair growth several months after their series of laser sessions.

Why Maintenance Laser Hair Removal Sessions Are Necessary

Laser removal is often touted as a permanent hair solution, so why are maintenance laser hair removal sessions required after your initial round of sessions to get rid of hair? There are two main reasons for this.

The first is that the telogen stage can last for a long time for some of the hair in a treated area, meaning even the initial round of treatments can’t destroy all the hair follicles even if timed appropriately. It may take several months or years to completely destroy all the hair follicles in a treated area.

The second reason is that hair follicles can heal after some time and start growing hair again. With the right nutrition and enough time, the body tends to repair damaged hair follicles. Without maintenance treatments, patients may start experiencing lighter and thinner growth a year or so after their first treatments. Maintenance treatments are important to maintain the level of removal in your treated area.

However, if light hair growth doesn’t bother you, you can maintain the hairlessness in a treated area with light shaving or waxing a year or so after your last laser hair treatments. The growth will never go back to its level before the laser treatments were performed regardless of where it is, the upper lip, the legs, or anywhere else.

What Happens During a Laser Hair Removal Session?

The office visit for a laser hair removal session typically doesn’t last too long, although this depends mostly on the size of the area being treated. Areas such as the chin and the upper lip typically only take a few minutes, while areas like the legs and back can last an hour.

The treatment itself is quite simple. The patient will be asked to sit or lie down, and a cooling gel will be applied to the treated area. This will protect the skin from the heat of the laser while allowing it to travel down beneath the skin to destroy the follicles. After the gel is applied, the laser machine is applied to the skin where it zaps the treated area.

The zaps will feel relatively painless, like rubber band snaps against the skin. The pigmentation from the hair attracts the laser heat, and the energy travels down the hair into the hair follicle, thus destroying the hair follicle. The entire area will be treated to target as many of the vulnerable hair follicles as possible.

How to Prepare for a Laser Hair Removal Session

Once a patient has gone through the laser hair removal consultation and understands the best laser type for their skin tone and hair, they can begin preparing for their first session. To prepare for the treatment, please follow the following tips:

  • Shave: Shave the area to be treated a day before or on the day of the session. It is important for the hair to be shaved, not waxed, so that the laser heat can travel down the remaining hair and into the hair follicle.
  • Avoid Tanning: Tanning can make your session less effective, as it lessens the pigmentation difference between your skin tone and hair tone. It also leaves your skin more vulnerable to damage.
  • Avoid Products: On the day of your treatments, make sure not to use any products for your skin. This includes deodorants, lotions, and other products you might apply to your skin.

It is essential that you follow these tips before every single laser hair treatment, not just your first one. In some cases, patients forget to follow these guidelines before follow-up sessions, making the treatment less effective.

Laser Hair Removal at Ethos Spa

If you are interested in learning more about laser hair removal or getting laser hair treatment done in the New Jersey area, contact us at Ethos Spa, Skin and Laser Center today. 

We are the premier destination for laser hair removal and other skin and laser procedures in and around Summit, New Jersey. Our team of specialists have assisted countless patients of all skin types with achieving their dream hair and body goals.

Book your appointment on our website and get laser treatment today, and finally get rid of that unwanted body and facial hair for good.

Read more: How Permanent is Laser Hair Removal?     

Dr. Hardik Soni

MD, Founder/Lead Physician

About Dr. Hardik Soni

Dr. Hardik Soni is the founder and Medical Director of Ethos Aesthetics + Wellness. His primary focus is on minimally invasive and non-invasive cosmetic procedures including botulinum injection (Botox and Dysport), dermal fillers (Juvederm, Restylane, Radiesse), laser hair removal, chemical peels, and laser skin rejuvenation. Dr. Soni believes in a more conservative approach and his first goal is education. Clients are able to determine the ideal treatments after discussion with Dr. Soni regarding the expected outcomes, cost, as well as risks.

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