Before you're ready to suck it up and deal with the discomfort that can accompany permanent hair removal, you probably want a response to one important question: How long does it last? The answer depends, of course, on which method you choose.
Laser hair removal is not classified as permanent hair removal, but it does fall into the "permanent hair reduction" category. Typical results show a decreasing number of active hair-producing follicles -- anywhere from 20 to 90 percent [source: Mayo Clinic]. You can expect results to last for a few months to a few years, so wait a year to determine the effectiveness of your laser hair removal treatments [source: WebMD:Surgery]. Regular follow-up appointments may be necessary to tackle areas where hair reappears. Results are also dependent on how well your hair follicles absorb and respond to the laser light. This method is typically not recommended for those with darker skin or blonde, light brown or light red hair, as the laser is less effective at targeting the hair follicle when there's less pigment there to absorb it.
Electrolysis, on the other hand, is often referred to as "permanent." In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has called electrolysis the most effective treatment method for long-term permanent hair removal [source: American Electrology Association]. What does that really mean? Again, results can vary, but research estimates that 35 percent of hair follicles are permanently destroyed through electrolysis [source: Journal Watch]. This method can be used on people of any skin tone and hair color [source: Shenenberger].
If you're tired of razors and routine appointments for waxing, you can contact your dermatologist for a hair removal evaluation and find out if there's a method that's right for you. Read on for even more information about hair removal.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- American Academy of Dermatology. "Laser Hair Removal." (Accessed 8/14/09) http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/cosmetic_laserhair.html
- American Electrology Association. "History of Electrolysis." (Accessed 8/14/09) http://www.electrology.com/historyofelectrolysis.htm
- eMedicine. "Nonlaser Hair Removal Techniques." (Accessed 8/14/09) http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1067139-overview
- Hair Facts. "Permanent Hair Removal Defined." (Accessed 8/14/09) http://www.hairfacts.com/permanent.html
- Journal Watch. "Hair Removal: Laser vs. Electrolysis." (Accessed 8/14/09) http://dermatology.jwatch.org/cgi/content/full/2000/201/1
- Mayo Clinic Staff. "Laser Hair Removal." (Accessed 8/14/09)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/laser-hair-removal/MY00134/DSECTION=why%2Dits%2Ddone
- Shenenberger, Donald. "Removal of Unwanted Facial Hair." American Family Physician. (Accessed 8/14/09)http://www.aafp.org/afp/20021115/1907.html
- Simply Hair Removal. "Depilatory Creams." (Accessed 8/14/09)http://simplyhairremoval.com/Depilatory-Creams.html
- WebMD. "Cosmetic Procedures: Hair Removal." (Accessed 8/14/09)http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/cosmetic-procedures-hair-removal
- WebMD. "Guide to Cosmetic Surgery." (Accessed 8/24/09)http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/cosmetic-surgery-guide-9/hair