It’s a little known fact that the hair on your body doesn’t sprout up all at once. At any given moment, each hair is at different stage of its life cycle. There are actually four phases of the hair life cycle, which the main reason why laser hair removal requires multiple sessions spaced out over time.
How much hair grows and how fast it grows varies from person to person and is based on a number of factors, including genetics and hormones. However, at some point, all hair will move through each of the following four stages.
The anagen phase is the active stage of hair growth, and describes the time that a newly formed hair follicle starts to grow. Hair grows continuously as new hair cells form in the follicle. Growth rates vary according to location on the body as well as from person to person. For example, the anagen growth phase can last as little as several weeks for facial hair, or as long as several years on the scalp. Much to their dismay, some people notice that their hair grows at a much faster pace than others.
It is only during this phase of active growth that laser hair treatment works. The light energy from a laser beam targets the follicle during the anagen phase, permanently impairing it and preventing future hair growth.
The second stage of hair growth, the catagen phase, marks a transition when active hair growth slows down and prepares to come to a stopping point. During this time, the hair follicle begins to shrink. Approximately three percent of hair is in the catagen phase at all times, which typically lasts between two to three weeks.
The telogen phase is the third stage of hair growth, and is known as the resting phase. During this time, the hair follicle is completely dormant. The telogen stage accounts for about six to eight percent of all hair. While the hair that’s already formed rests, a new growth phase is about to begin.
Two things happen during the final exogen phase: fully formed hair falls out, with anywhere from 25 to 150 telogen hairs shed each day, while new hair continues to grow. The exogen phase is also known as the shedding phase.
Hair Growth Phase and LHR
Understanding that hair grows in stages can help to shed light on why laser hair removal is a process rather than an overnight, instant remedy. Laser hair removal sessions need to be spaced out over a period of weeks and months, because hair follicles in a potential treatment area may be in different stages of growth. Knowing this is one of the most important steps to follow for laser hair removal success.
Multiple sessions are necessary to ensure that every follicle is treated during its active growth phase. Although a number of sessions are required for optimal results to be seen in a treatment area, most people experience a 10 to 20 percent reduction in hair after only one session.
Individuals vary in terms of rate of hair growth as well as hair density, but typically an average of six to nine sessions of laser hair removal offers overall permanent hair reduction.
Finally, the best laser hair removal results come from working with the right technician. Choose a certified, experienced laser specialist. The right practitioner should be able to answer any questions you may have about hair growth phases, and ensure that your laser hair removal experience is a safe, effective and positive one.
Caroll Delo is a board certified laser technician at Simply Smooth Laser Center in Tampa, a niche practice that focuses specifically on laser treatments. Simply Smooth Laser Center offers the most advanced options in laser hair removal, laser skin rejuvenation and laser tattoo removal.