A laser hair removal package always comes in six sessions. Does it sound like a random number to you? It is just an industry standard. You will need six sessions of laser hair removal at least. Does that mean that those six sessions will be enough for effective laser hair removal? Not always. Indeed, factors may interfere with a treatment and incur the need for more sessions. Furthermore, everyone is different, therefore laser treatments will be unique to each patient.
At Infinity Laser Spa, we believe in transparency. It is important that you know exactly how laser hair removal work and what your treatment actually entails. While we believe laser hair removal is the best hair removal method available, we are know that the experience and results will vary from one person to another. A number of things and factors will determine how many sessions you will need for effective laser hair removal.
1. How does laser hair removal work?
Laser hair removal uses a concept called selective photothermolysis. A specific wavelength will match a pulse duration to safely obtained a desired results on a targeted subject without damaging the surrounding tissues. When it comes to laser hair removal, the target is the hair and the result hair removal.
The laser will target the pigments in the body hair. The light energy produced by the laser will travel through the hair down to the follicle. There, it will turn into thermal energy and damage the follicle. Since hair follicles can regenerate with time and repair themselves, it is important that they are damaged beyond repair.
This means that the blood vessel feeding the follicle must be cauterized so that the follicle does not get any fuel to carry on producing hair. Only then will you achieve effective laser hair removal. As per the FDA, laser hair removal is not considered a permanent hair removal method but a long-term hair growth reduction method. However, most patients do experience permanent hair removal.
2. Why do I need to wait 6 weeks between sessions?
Effective laser hair removal requires that patients wait six weeks between each session. Why? First, to let the skin heal and regenerate. Although laser hair removal is safe, the light energy used still leaves the skin more sensitive after a treatment and more vulnerable to outside aggressors. Therefore, it needs time to get back to its stronger self.
Another reason is the hair growth cycle. Laser hair removal can only be effective on body hair in the anagen phase of growth. Indeed, it is the only time when hair and follicle connect, thus allowing the energy to pass from the former to the latter. Unfortunately, not only does each hair has its own unique growth cycle, but only 20% of all body hair is in the anagen stage at any point in time.
Thus, one session of laser hair removal can only target 18 to 20% of the hair on the specific area. Waiting six weeks will allow hair that is not grown yet or in another phase of growth to move into the right phase of growth. The laser will then be able to target them and effectively treat the area.
3. Is laser hair removal for everyone?
It is the contrast between hair and skin that help the laser easily pick out what to target. As a result, laser hair removal typically works better on light skin and dark hair, since they offer the sharpest contrast. Thus, for a very long time, we believed that people with dark skin or blonde hair could not get laser hair removal. Or at least that it would not be as effective.
Why? Because it is the contrast between body hair against skin that will allow the laser to target the strongest source of pigments. Unfortunately, dark skins offer a very low contrast against dark hair. The same goes for blonde hair on fair skin.
Thus, the risks of getting burnt by the laser was higher for dark skin and fair hair. However, laser technology improvements changed that. Indeed, the invention of the ND: YAG lasers made effective laser hair removal possible for people with dark skin or fair hair. Indeed, ND: YAG lasers are not as highly absorbed by melanin as other lasers. Therefore, it can treat all types of skins. Indeed, it deposits energy deep into the dermis without relying on melanin to do so.
4. What factors can influence the treatment?
A few factors can come in the way of effective laser hair removal. For example, despite the coming of ND: YAG lasers, people with dark skin and blonde hair may need additional sessions. Although they can undergo laser hair removal, the lack of contrast between hair and skin can still make it harder for the laser to target the hair. Ginger and grey hair are also quite poor in pigments, and thus the treatment may take longer.
The hair growth cycle is regulated by hormones. Thus, if you are taking a hormonal contraception, undergoing hormone therapy or going through transition, your treatment may take a bit longer as well. Hormones may stimulate hair growth a bit more or disturb the cycle altogether. It will not add more than a session or two to the treatment though.
Genetics, hair texture and coarseness may interfere as well but not to a very high level. At worst patients will only need a couple of additional sessions. Pregnant women should not undergo laser hair removal. They should pause their treatment, which can interfere with its efficiency. Not all medications can be taken in conjunction with a laser treatment. Antibiotics increase photosensitivity for example.
5. How many sessions do you need for effective laser hair removal?
The number of sessions a patient needs for effective laser hair removal will vary. Indeed, some patients may only need six sessions to be rid of all their hair on their full legs while the same person will need four extra sessions to be satisfied with the results of their bikini laser hair removal. Hormonal areas require more sessions to ensure satisfying results.
Skin color, hair texture, hair color, hair growth cycle, genetics, pass hair removal history will all interfere with the treatment. For example, if you waxed for ten years prior to switching to laser hair removal, some of your hair follicles will already be damaged. Indeed, waxing contributes to long-term hair growth reduction. People with blonde hair, that is harder to target, may require additional sessions.
A laser hair removal package will always include at least six sessions. As mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, it is the industry minimum and standard for a treatment. However, most patients need between eight and twelve sessions to achieve close to permanent results. While some will be completely rid of their hair after eight sessions, some may need an additional session after the end of their initial treatment.
Indeed, there may always be some hair that was never in the right stage of growth during the initial treatment or whose follicle was not damaged enough and regenerated. To ensure effective laser hair removal and achieve the best results, we advise that you go for six sessions at first and add two additional sessions after the end of your initial treatment.