In the last decade, the quality of laser technology has been on a steady rise. As a result, the efficacy of laser hair removal has increased exponentially, making it one of the most in-demand treatments in the cosmetic industry.
Despite this, there are cases where patients complain that their laser hair removal seems not to be working. This can be very frustrating, especially if laser hair removal is your last option after other hair removal methods fail.
Read: Turning To Laser Hair Removal When Other Approaches Fails
So, why does this happen?
Well, different factors influence the kind of results you can get. More than that, some in specific might seal your fate to dismal results. Sounds scary? Don't worry!
Below we will cover 4 reasons why your laser hair removal may be failing and offer recommendations on what to do instead.
1. Incorrect Timing of Treatments
One of the first things that your laser hair removal practitioner should explain is the life cycle of hair. They should also help you understand why several spaced out treatments are necessary.
Your hair grows in cycles of three phases, namely, Anagen (growth), Catagen (regression), and Telogen (resting) phases. Laser hair removal can only target hair follicles in the first phase, the growing stage.
This means you'll need a couple of sessions to target all the hair follicles as they go in and out of the growing stage and stop hair growth at its track.
Therefore, by correctly spacing the laser hair removal sessions, you ensure the maximum efficacy of the treatment. If you leave a gap that is too long or short between sessions, the treatment is likely to be visibly less effective.
The challenge is the hair growth cycle isn't an exact science. Sometimes the hair growth rates can vary from person to person, making it difficult to time the treatments perfectly.
So what is the solution?
First, you need to embrace that laser hair removal requires a time investment. The average wait period between treatment sessions is 4 weeks for facial hair (as it grows back faster) and 6 weeks for body hair.
Considering that a typical course of treatment for laser hair removal is 4-10 treatments, that's at least 6-9 months or more. So, maybe you just need to be a bit patient and give the treatment some time to work.
That said, you could also request your laser technician to re-evaluate the time gap between the sessions. If they are experienced and qualified, they should be able to account for this themselves. More on that later.
2. Hormonal Imbalance
For women suffering from hirsutism, laser hair removal is probably their best hair removal option. However, if you have a really fast hair regrowth rate—sometimes the case with PCOS—laser hair removal on its own might be insufficient.
Laser hair removal works on the skin's surface and thus can't influence internal hormone irregularities within the body. Also, with PCOS, hair growth is more persistent and resilient.
If you suspect that your excess hair might be related to hormonal imbalance, consider having a medical evaluation prior to your laser treatment.
Treating the underlying issue generally can prevent new terminal hairs from developing and may slow the growth rate of existing hairs.
For example, if PCOS is confirmed, a properly designed hormonal therapy implemented simultaneously with laser hair removal treatments offers the best chance for satisfactory results.
It's important to note that women suffering from hirsutism will need more laser hair removal sessions to achieve their desired results.
Also, regular maintenance treatments may be required several times every year to keep the hair regrowth at a minimum. As everyone's hormone profile is different, the frequency and number of these treatments will vary greatly. During your consultation, we can discuss your situation and tailor a treatment plan specifically for you.
Related: Laser Hair Removal For Hirsutism/PCOS.
3. Unqualified Laser Technician
While you might assume that everyone in the United Kingdom offering laser hair removal is equally qualified, this is rarely the case. Non-surgical laser treatments are currently not regulated by the UK government.
On the internet, you'll find horror stories from patients who experienced laser burns and scarring after their treatments went devastatingly wrong.
Some technicians, especially those working at salons or beauty spas, only know the basic knowledge of laser hair removal or aren't equipped with the latest devices on the market.
For example, some still use laser devices that pose a significant risk of swelling and burning skin. This is despite the fact that cooling attachments are now a staple in the latest laser hair removal devices.
Like most products and services, price (while certainly important) shouldn't be the only factor you consider when making your choice. After all, you do get what you pay for.
So make sure to research your potential laser hair removal practitioner before undergoing treatment. Look for reviews from past clients and ask the technician questions during the consultation to gauge their level of understanding and expertise.
Make sure to ascertain that your potential laser hair treatment practitioner is equipped with the latest devices in the industry.
Some questions you can ask include:
- What type of laser technology do you use? / Is it medical-grade and FDA-approved?
- What are the possible risks or side effects / What is normal and not? And how do you address them?
- What are your qualifications as a laser technician / How long have you been providing treatments?
Their answers should give you the peace of mind that you're choosing the right person for your needs.
4. Paradoxical Hypertrichosis After Laser Therapy
One rare but significant side effect of laser hair removal is paradoxical hypertrichosis. Simply put, this is a condition whereby there's reactive hair growth in neighbouring areas adjacent to the laser-treated areas.
Paradoxical hypertrichosis usually starts a few months after a laser hair removal treatment session. The most commonly affected areas are the face and neck. This probably explains why some people experience hair regrowth after laser hair removal.
Sadly, the cause of this phenomenon remains widely unknown. For example, one train of thought points to the activation of dormant hair follicles by the intense pulse light therapy. Instead of destroying the hair follicles, the treatment stimulates the hair to grow!
We've had cases where patients have come to our clinic for laser hair removal after experiencing disappointing results with intense pulse light therapy. Like laser, this method also involves heating up damaging the hair follicles with light energy. However, laser hair removal is more aggressive than IPL hair removal as it penetrates deeper into the pores resulting in a more optimal effect.
Is Laser Hair Removal Worth It?
Laser hair removal has been available since the late 1990s, and the technology has only improved since that time. It's now possible to treat different hair colours and more skin types effectively. Also, today's precision lasers can target hair anywhere on the body, including the legs, bikini area, back, chest, face, and underarms.
With the right approach, there's no reason why you can't benefit from all laser hair removal has to offer.
Have you been disappointed by your laser hair removal treatments in the past? We would love to talk to you and see how we can help.