Is Laser Hair Removal Permanent? (2024)

Laser hair removal is a popular cosmetic procedure that provides long-lasting hair removal. The laser damages the hair follicle, temporarily halting new hair growth. It does not provide permanent hair removal but users can expect to have results last months to years.

This article will discuss how laser hair removal works, how long results last, and the expected side effects.

Is Laser Hair Removal Permanent? (1)

How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?

Laser hair removal is a noninvasive procedure in which a clinician uses a handheld device that emits a single wavelength of intense light to damage hair follicles. The light is absorbed by the melanin pigment in the hair, which then transfers the light energy to the surrounding hair follicle. This damages or destroys the area that produces the hair.

Lasers only target actively growing hair. Since hair grows in cycles and follicles go through resting phases, it will take multiple laser treatments to successfully treat an entire area.

Is Laser Hair Removal Permanent?

Laser hair removal significantly reduces the amount of hair growth. After a series of laser treatments, most people do not see any hair on the treated areas for months or years. If and when the hair regrows, there tends to be less of it.

On the female face, it is not permanent due to the effects of hormones, but it can be repeated when hair grows back.

To effectively reduce hair growth, most people will need four to six laser hair removal treatments.

Hair that does grow back will be less, thinner, or lighter in color. Some people may have no hair growth for a period of time after a laser hair removal treatment.

How Long Does Laser Hair Removal Last?

Laser hair removal treatments are typically sold as a package of several sessions. They are generally sold in packages because each session will get results in only about 15% to 30% of treated hairs. The American Academy of Dermatology notes that it can take six or more sessions for complete removal.

Results will vary from person to person. Many people find that after all of their treatments, they will not see regrowth for several months or years.

Does Hair or Skin Color Make a Difference?

A person's hair and skin color make a difference in laser hair removal. People with light skin and darker hair tend to have the best results. Whereas, those with darker hair and darker skin or those with light-colored hair may not be candidates for some types of laser hair removal.

The lasers target melanin, which is the pigment in the hair. In people who have darker skin, melanin in the skin competes with the hair follicle for laser absorption. These people are at an increased risk of heat blisters and hyperpigmentation (darkened areas of skin) from laser hair removal. Light-colored hair has less melanin, so the laser has less effect on it.

However, there are newer lasers on the market that are reported to be effective in people with darker skin and darker hair and those with light-colored hair. The nd:YAG laser is effective in people with darker skin and does not cause hyperpigmentation or burns.

Does Laser Hair Removal Hurt?

Laser hair removal is generally well tolerated. There may be some minor discomfort, but it should not produce significant pain.

People who have had laser hair removal report that treatments can sting or feel like a rubber band snapping against the skin. After treatment, the skin can feel swollen and appear red, like a mild sunburn.

Is Laser Hair Removal Safe?

When laser hair removal is performed by a trained professional it is considered a safe procedure. Side effects tend to be mild but in rare cases can be severe. Mild side effects that are felt one to three days after a treatment include:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Discomfort

Other rare side effects are:

  • Blistering
  • Scarring
  • Infection
  • Cold sore outbreak
  • Hypopigmentation (lightened areas of skin)
  • Hyperpigmentation

Follow the instructions of the professional who performed the treatment to avoid side effects.

How Much Is Laser Hair Removal?

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost of a series of laser hair removal treatments is $582. Laser hair removal is not usually covered by insurance.

The cost will vary greatly based on the body site treated. Some sites like the underarms are small and are treated quickly. Whereas, large areas like the legs or back will take longer and cost more.

Summary

Laser hair removal is a procedure that uses a small, handheld device that emits a single wavelength of coherent light that damages hair follicles. This provides long-lasting hair loss in the treated area. Users can expect to see results for months to years after they have received several laser hair removal treatments.

Side effects tend to be mild redness and swelling. Contact a healthcare provider to help determine if you are a good candidate for laser hair removal.

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Gan SD, Graber EM. Laser hair removal: a review.Dermatologic Surgery. 2013;39(6):823-838. doi:10.1111/dsu.12116

  2. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Laser hair removal.

  3. American Society of Dermatology Association. Laser hair removal: overview.

  4. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Laser hair removal: FAQs.

  5. Dermnet. Laser therapy in skin of colour.

Is Laser Hair Removal Permanent? (2)

By Patty Weasler, RN, BSN
Weasler is a Wisconsin-based registered nurse with over a decade of experience in pediatric critical care.

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Is Laser Hair Removal Permanent? (2024)

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