Excessive Facial Regrowth After Laser Hair Removal

I’m not sure if my facial laser hair removal results can be considered normal or if there may have been a way to prevent what is happening to me. I have very fair skin and dark hair (ideal for optimal results). I completed my hair removal treatment two years ago (8 treatments using Alexandrite). I felt, at the time, that it was a success and was happy with the results. However, about a year ago, I started to experience re-growth, which has gotten exponentially worse in the last year.

I have known from the get-go, that “permanent” doesn’t really mean forever in the laser hair removal world. That’s fine, I anticipated some upkeep. What concerns me is the rate and thickness at which the hair has re-grown. Had I known that the hair would be twice as thick and grow 3x faster two years down the road, I might not have undergone the treatment.

My doctor has run just about every medical test available to rule out an underlying medical condition such as PCOS or Thyroid Dysfunction, so I know that’s not what is causing my hirsutism. The only other link I can come up with is a medication I used to take. I was treated with Valproic Acid (Depakote) for several years in my twenties (now almost 40), but permanently discontinued the medication well before undergoing laser treatment.

At this point, I am considering a new course of laser treatment, but want to vent out my concerns over the long-term effects of these procedures. I haven’t even started setting up consultations because I feel like I need to be armed with some research going in and, frankly, I am doing some avoidance because I remember how grueling it was to fight off the “hard sell” every time I went for a consultation.

Any thoughts? Do you think a different laser might bring a different result? Could it have been operator error? Or is this a completely normal outcome?


Doctor Answers 2

Hair growth increase after laser hair removal

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What you have outlined is relatively rare, but does happen. Our experience is that this phenomenon occurs most often with patients that have undergone low fluence (low energy) IPL treatments.

We would suggest finding another physician in your area that uses the Lumenis Lightsheer as this is the most commonly used laser for your skin type. The Alexandrite is a good laser for you (but obviously it did not work well) and the Nd:Yg laser is better suited for darker skin types.

One final note. Did the treatments hurt or sting? One commonality with hair overgrowth seems to be using settings that are too low. Laser hair removal - when done correctly - does involve some pain, like pin pricks or sharp rubber band snaps. If you did not experience this, it's possible that the settings used were too low.

Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
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Paradoxical hair growth after laser hair removal is a rare but increasingly reported complication

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Paradoxical stimulation of facial/body hair growth after laser hair removal is a rare but increasingly reported complication from hair laser treatment. Most reports involve hair laser utilizing Alexandrite or IPL technology. I would seek out a board-certified dermatologist who is experienced using spironolactone to control hormonal trigger of hirsutism and to consider Nd:Yag based hair laser removal.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.