If you’re interested in getting rid of your unwanted hair for good, then you’ve probably considered laser hair removal. This method doesn’t just target the hair you can see. It goes beneath the surface to deal with hair at the “root” level by disabling hair follicles. It’s a long-term solution, and for some people, it can even result in permanent hair loss! At O’Donnell Vein & Laser in Annapolis, MD, we can give you the information you need to make an informed decision: including understanding how long this solution will last.
How Long Can Laser Hair Removal Last?
The short answer is that there’s a possibility your results will be permanent, and many more people only require very occasional, infrequent touch-up treatments to remain hair-free. Most people will need between four and eight treatments to see the best results, and the biggest factor in whether your results are completely permanent will be your own hormones.
Our hormones control our hair growth, and if you experience a significant change, your hair may come back. Assuming that your hormone levels remain steady, however, you can probably expect to be stubble-free for at least six to 12 months. To understand this timeline, as well as the possibility of permanent results, it’s crucial to understand the process itself.
How Laser Hair Removal Works
Lasers use light to destroy or damage hair follicles. The light is emitted in a brief pulse and travels down the shaft of your hair till it ends at the follicle. Once there, it generates heat, and it’s this heat that damages the follicles. Follicles can only be effectively damaged when they’re in the actively growing stage, and the hair everywhere on our bodies is continually cycling through growing, shedding, and resting cycles.
At any given laser treatment session, your treatment will target only a percentage of the hair–the hair in the active growing stage. It will take several sessions to get all the hair as each follicle cycles round to the growing phase in its own time.
Damage vs Destroy
The laser energy will always damage follicles in the active growing stage, but it might not destroy them all, and especially the first time around. Destroyed follicles will never grow hair again, but damaged ones may eventually start growing hair. However, that hair will usually be lighter, thinner, and slower growing than it was before treatment.
Whether the laser is able to fully destroy follicles depends on several factors.
Number of Treatments
The more treatments you have, the better the chance that you’ll fully destroy the follicles, and even if you see regrowth in a year or two, a few maintenance treatments might do the trick in the end. On average, repeat treatments can reduce hair permanently by 80% to 90%.
Your results also depend on the skill and knowledge of your laser hair removal specialist. You should always seek treatment only from a professional with plenty of experience.
At O’Donnell Vein & Laser, we’re led by board-certified vein specialist Dr. Kelly O’Donnell, MD. Dr. O’Donnell holds a medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and completed an internship in general surgery from the University Hospitals of Cleveland and a residency in anesthesiology from Johns Hopkins.
As a Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT) and a Registered Physician of Vascular Interpretation (RPVI), Dr. O’Donnell works with lasers on a daily basis for vein concerns and is a member of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery. Dr. O’Donnell leads a team of highly skilled professionals who offer superior care in every aspect of therapeutic and cosmetic medicine. At O’Donnell Vein & Laser, you can be sure of getting the most qualified laser hair treatment available.
The darker your hair, the more efficiently it absorbs the energy from the laser. In the past, laser treatments were only effective on those with very dark hair. Today, modern lasers can treat a wider variety of hair colors, but it’s still important to know that lighter hair can’t absorb as much energy. That means it will take more treatments to get enough heat to destroy the follicle.
If you have red, blond, white, or strawberry blond hair, you will need more sessions to get rid of your hair than someone with dark brown or black hair. You’re also less likely to see complete and permanent destruction of the follicles.
FAQ About Laser Treatments
Will It Work for Me?
Early laser treatments were only suitable for people with dark hair, but also only for those with light skin. The lasers weren’t sophisticated enough to target the melanin in the hair without also hitting the melanin in the skin, meaning anyone with darker skin could be at risk for burns or hyperpigmentation issues.
Today, the advanced lasers used to remove hair work well on lighter hair and darker skin. The treatment is now safe for those with darker skin because the lasers use longer wavelengths of light and less energy. If you’re unsure about whether laser treatments are right for you, contact us to set up a consultation. We’ll meet with you and discuss your goals to find the right choice for you.
Does It Hurt?
No one wants to go through a treatment that hurts, and the good news is that we’ve come a long way in reducing the discomfort of these treatments. In the past, the pulses could feel a lot like having a rubber band snapped against your skin–unpleasant, but bearable. Today, it doesn’t even feel like that anymore.
For one thing, modern lasers are much faster than older models. For another, they now come with cooling technologies that counteract the heat of the laser light. We can also apply a topical numbing cream that will assure your comfort throughout the process.
What Kind of Preparation Must I Do?
Thankfully, there isn’t much you need to do to get a laser hair treatment. The main thing to remember is that you need at least some hair or the laser won’t be able to find its target. If you pluck, wax, or otherwise remove all the hair from the root up, you won’t get good results.
That doesn’t mean you have to let your unwanted hair grow out, however! You’re free to shave as much as you need. In fact, you should shave the night before you get a treatment. That way, there’s enough hair left under the skin for the laser to find the follicle but not so much extra hair that the laser’s light gets wasted.
What Kind of Downtime Should I Expect?
The only thing you need to do is treat your skin with a little extra tender loving care. Imagine you’d spent a bit too much time in the sun–not enough to get a sunburn, but enough to need some extra moisturizer and to avoid the sun for a while. That’s how you should treat your skin after you’ve had a laser treatment.
For about five days before your appointment, and a few days after, protect your skin by avoiding harsh skincare ingredients like:
- Benzoyl peroxide
- Salicylic acid
- Glycolic acid
It also helps to stay well hydrated and eat as well as possible. Both these practices are essential for skin health, and your whole body will thank you for giving it the nutrients and water it needs!
How Quickly Can I Schedule Treatment?
It’s natural to want to be rid of your hair as quickly as possible, but you won’t get great results that way. Your body needs time to cycle more hair into the active growing phase, so be sure to allow about four to six weeks between your treatments. In the end, that will actually get you the best and fastest results.
How Much Will It Cost?
The cost always depends on the number of treatments you need, the size of the treatment area, and unique factors regarding your skin and hair color. The best way to get a good handle on cost is to call us for a consultation.
To save on cost and time, it’s often a good idea to bundle your hair treatment visit with any other cosmetic treatments you’d like to have, like dermal fillers or other injectables, or skin rejuvenation treatments.
Is It Really Worth It?
The initial cost of laser treatment is undoubtedly greater than simply buying a razor and a can of shaving cream, so is it really worth it? It may help you decide when you compare this to other treatment options for getting rid of hair:
Shaving and Depilatory Creams
Both these methods must be repeated very frequently–even every day for some people. Razors can cause irritation to the skin, especially over time, and depilatory creams contain harsh chemicals that reduce your hair to jelly. That’s not something you want to apply to your skin regularly!
The biggest problems with both these methods are time and expense. Yes, one razor doesn’t cost much, but for the average woman, the cost of shaving over a lifetime can easily run to $10,000. And that’s not counting the amount of time you waste shaving over and over again.
Waxing and Plucking
These methods both provide longer results than shaving because they pull the whole hair out by the root instead of simply removing what can be seen above the skin. But compared to laser treatments, there are some serious downsides. They both hurt, for instance, and plucking is a highly inefficient way to work on a large part of the body.
When it comes to waxing, the expense over time is another issue to consider. And both methods force you to allow unwanted hair to grow out to a certain length so it can be removed. This means you’ll constantly be going through periods where you have to cover up while you wait to get your next waxing session.
IPL and Electrolysis
IPL is similar to laser in that it uses light to create heat that targets the hair follicles. But it’s far less efficient because it uses a wider wavelength. That means some of the light is lost along the way. It also means it’s less safe for dark or tanned skin. And the at-home IPL devices you see advertised deliver far worse results than even the professional IPL devices in a spa setting.
Electrolysis is the only way to achieve true, 100% permanent hair loss. It uses electricity to kill the hair follicles, and it does this via a small needle inserted into each follicle. The problem with electrolysis is that it’s expensive, painful, and very time-consuming. Targeting each individual hair with a needle takes quite a long time!
Get the Best Results With Laser Hair Removal
If you’re interested in this treatment and how you can enjoy smooth skin for the long term, reach out to O’Donnell Vein & Laser in Annapolis, MD, to set up a consultation. We can help you achieve the smooth skin you’re hoping for!