Hair Falling with IPL Method: "Permanently" Gone?

2 weeks after I had my first session using IPL method in the bikini area, I noticed that most (not all) hair went away without much effort. And my question is: the hair that fell out happened to be in active growth phase and their follicle has been destroyed (so they are “permanently” gone) OR all the hair are meant to fall out and the ones that have been destroyed won't grow back? If the second is true, why haven't all the hair fallen out? Maybe my beauty therapist has missed some spots?

Doctor Answers 4

How IPL Interacts with Hair Follicles

The goal of IPL hair removal is to permanently destroy the hair bulb that will be unable to generate the follicle and then the stem of the hair. The are three phases alternate in hair cycles and their length varies in different parts of the body. The anagen phase is characterised by the formation of melanin, this is the reason that allows IPL to work effectively only on the active hair follicles.

The IPL treatment handpiece is placed on the skin of the targeted area and a bright light is released which travels through the epidermis. Melanin in the hair shaft absorbs the light which is transformed to heat. The heat is conducted to the surrounding follicular cells and thus damages them.

The skin responds immediately to this interaction, Perifolliclar erythema (Edema- swelling) is created. This response is very normal due to the heat in the epidermis. Laser aid (Cooling gel) is applied post treatment to increase the cooling in the epidermis.

The hair is detached from the follicle and falls out after 1-2 weeks. The patient can encourage the hair detachment by exfoliating the treated area after day three of treatment.

In my experience, hair reduction is greatest in patients with fair skin and dark hair. In these individuals, the reduction can be drammatic (over 70% reduction). The pain during treatment is moderate and significant but the effects are lasting.

Burley Facial Plastic Surgeon

IPL Best Results

With IPL hair reduction multiple sessions are needed as the laser effects hair that are in different growth cycles differently.  Hopefully, your provider explained that you would need multiple treatments. Be patient and get more sessions.  Good luck!

Hannah Vargas, MD
Kansas City Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Laser Hair Removal...

These treatment should always be called laser hair reduction not removal... I always like to advise my patients that a series of 4 to 10 treatments is normal depending on the area.  Treatments are usually spaced 4 to 6 weeks apart and they are never to expect 100% hair removal.  A fair expectation is 80% reduction.  You may have to shave once a month or so after a series of treatments but it will never be as hairy as the area was prior to any treatments.

Hope this helps.

Dr. Grant Stevens 

Grant Stevens, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 145 reviews

Laser Hair Removal Utah

You will also want to discuss with your skin care specialist - realistic expectations.  IPL - is more commonly referred to as permanent hair reduction; not permanent hair removal, as it does not get rid of all your hair but will reduce the majority( 80 - 90%) of the hair or cause enough damage to the root making the hair it produces grow in much finer and lighter.

J. Gregory Kjar, M.D.
Salt Lake City Plastic Surgeon
3.5 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

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.