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A Hairy Situation:  What Does Reduction in Hair Really Mean?

Laser hair removal is one of the top, most commonly performed procedures in the billion-dollar cosmetic industry.  However, laser hair removal doesn’t necessarily mean “permanent” hair removal, and hair reduction is often misleading to those hoping for an everlasting end to their stubble trouble.  

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines reduction in hair as follows: “Permanent hair reduction is defined as the long-term stable reduction in the number of hairs regrowing after a treatment regimen, which may include several sessions.”

The number of hairs re-growing must be stable over time greater than the duration of the complete growth cycle of hair follicles, which varies from four to twelve months, according to body location.  Permanent hair reduction does not necessarily imply the elimination of all hairs in the treatment area.  (Source:

And, there you have it.  Hair removal from laser treatments does not guarantee hair in the treated area won’t grow back and consumers should be prepared to see re-growth over time.  How long, exactly, a consumer enjoys stubble-free skin simply depends.  So, what does this mean for the consumer seeking laser hair removal to end their stubble woes and what can they expect realistically from their treatment?

Results are NOT Guaranteed and May Differ Amongst Consumers

Every consumer will have a different experience with their laser hair removal treatment.  Some may experience years of no re-growth, while others may need to re-visit the spa within months following their last session.  There simply isn’t a guaranteed, one-size-fits-all blueprint for laser hair removal success and everyone’s hair regrowth is unique.  

Expect Re-growth to Return to Pre-treatment Levels

A laser hair removal device can still be marketed as “approved for permanent hair reduction” even if the number of hairs in each treatment area returns to the full volume after a certain period.  If a laser hair removal device proves to reduce the number of hairs in a treated area for four months, yet consumers experience full re-growth after six months, then the device unequivocally passes the FDA standard for permanent hair reduction. 

In other words, hair density needs to be reduced for one complete growth cycle in each treatment area for it to be considered “permanent hair reduction.”  To put this in perspective, the growth cycle for hair on the upper lip or armpit area is roughly 4-5 months, while leg hair can have an average growth cycle of one year.  

Some Consumers May Experience an INCREASE in BOTH Hair Re-growth and DENSITY

While most patients require between 5 and 8 sessions per area over 6-8 months for optimal results, a small percentage of patients may experience excessive hair growth in the target areas.  This may be due to follicles in the growing cycle shedding following a laser hair removal session.  If this is the case, consumers are often instructed to gently exfoliate the treated area once swelling and redness has subsided.  It should also be noted that some consumers may experience excessive hair growth and density following laser treatment due to certain types of light radiation, but the incidence is infinitesimal.  

Odds of the Desired Outcome are Probable, HOWEVER “Permanent” Hair Removal is NOT Guaranteed

Many consumers are left confused and often misled when it comes to laser hair removal, as the popular hair-reducing treatment isn’t entirely permanent for many, but is more of a “long-term hair removal” or ‘hair reduction” solution.  Most consumers will experience hair re-growth over time.  Some may experience re-growth within just a few months following their last laser hair removal session, while others may flaunt a fuzz-free figure for 10 years before stubble begins to reappear. 

Either way, re-visiting your laser hair removal specialist will be required to get skin smooth again for the long term.  Hair regrowth taken from various consumers with different skin tones and hair densities has consistently demonstrated a reduction at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months following the last laser session.


Laser technology is still the best, most effective way to keep skin smooth and stubble-free for the long term, especially if you’re looking to get rid of the razor or ditch your time-consuming, pricy waxing appointments.  Most consumers can expect they’ll need 5-8 sessions PER treatment area before they can enjoy up to 80% reduction in growth, but should count on seeing re-growth in treated areas sometime in the future.

Laser hair removal should be considered an ongoing treatment in reducing hair growth, but not necessarily a permanent one. Contact us today.