Laser Hair Removal: is 4 Months Between Treatments Too Long a Wait?

I had my first session on my bikini about 3 - 4 months ago and at first the hair fell out and left about 30% hairs only, it was amazing, but now it has all grown back and is as dark and thick as it was before I got treated. The clinic is very busy and it is hard to get time off work so I have left it such a long time between treatments...will this affect the results and be a waste of money in the long run? Thanks to anyone who can help with this question. All advice is much appreciated.

Doctor Answers 10

Laser hair removal works at whatever interval of treatments you can manage

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Each treatment for laser hair removal treats those follicles actively growing hair.  As our follicles are all in different phases of growth, only some are active at any point in time.  For this reason, it is generally not adviseable to have treatments too close together.  Waiting at least 4 weeks between treatments should be enough time for a large group of follicles to have become active and so to become sensitive to the laser treatment.  However, there is nothing to be lost by going longer between treatments except for prolonging the ultimate outcome of maximum hair reduction.  If you really like this clinic, you will not be harmed by waiting until they have availability.

4 months between Laser Hair Treatments

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Yes 4 months is too long.  The recommendations are 8 weeks and based on the growth cycle of the hair follicle.  I would recommend getting your second treatment now and then follow up every 8 weeks.

David V. Poole, MD
Altamonte Springs Plastic Surgeon

Four months is too long between laser hair removal sessions

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Normally hair follicles are in different stages of growth. Only a certain proportion of hair follicles are in active growth phase at one time.  What percentage of them are active really depends on the body area.

Laser hair removal treatments affect only the actively growing hairs.  The first 2-3 laser treatments tend to synchronize the growth cycles of the hairs and the subsequent treatments are more effective.

It is best to do the treatments 4-6 weeks apart.  Longer than that and the hairs go back to their normal growth cycles.

Emily Altman, MD
Short Hills Dermatologic Surgeon

Laser Hair Removal

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Laser hair removal requires multiple treatments performed at 4 to 10 week intervals.  This is necessary in order to obtain the best result. Irregular treatment schedules and prolonged intervals between treatments may reduce the efficacy of laser hair removal. The number of treatments necessary varies per individual, on average 5-8 treatments, although because of numerous variables this medical treatment cannot be guaranteed.  Some hair follicles are stimulated only by changes in hormone levels.  Laser hair removal treatments do not prevent new hair growth in those follicles. Patients may experience hair regrowth from various hormone related causes, such as pregnancy or hormone changes related to aging. Additional treatments may be necessary, if desired, to treat hair regrowth.  Evaluation will be required to determine the appropriate treatment plan.  At my facility, we offer complimentary consultations with both our nurse practitioner and one of our laser technicians.  They are able to answer any questions and address any concerns.  At Blue Water Spa, we use the Candela GentleLase and Candela Yag lasers for laser hair removal.  These lasers are the safest and most effective lasers in the industry.

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 123 reviews

Laser Hair Removal Timing

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Yes, your treatments must be scheduled on regular time intervals from four to six weeks.  If you don't follow a regular time schedule and wait longer than suggested, it becomes difficult to successfully remove all hair.

Michael Sullivan, MD
Columbus Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 93 reviews

Treatment Intervals for Laser Hair Reduction

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Treatment intervals for lasers hair reduction depend on the area treated, and usually range between 1-2 months for ideal results.

Anatoli Freiman, MD
Toronto Dermatologist

Laser hair removal and waiting months in between treatments

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waiting longer in between laser hair removal appointments than 4 - 6 weeks should not adversely affect  your end result. The theory is not to treat you too soon after your last treatment to allow hairs to grow in a new cycle and benefit from the laser energy. By you waiting longer you are ensuring that there will be more hairs in the active growth cycle when you will be treated than if you had it done too soon after the last treatment and treatment during the active cycle is most effective. The more hairs that are growing in the active cycle vs. the dormant or intermediate cycles at a given time, make the laser hair removal treatment more successful.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Treatment Intervals for Permanent Laser Hair Reduction.

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The goal of Laser Hair Reduction Treatments is permanent reduction of hair growth in the treatment area. For this to occur, treatment sessions are spaced to allow for successive targeting of hairs in  active growth phase.  Usually treatments are spaced at a minimum of 4 and as much as 8 weeks apart. Four months is a long time between treatments, which is why you see that the hairs in your bikini area have grown back.

To get to the desired goal of permanent hair reduction, look at scheduling your sessions with the clinic you are going to, well ahead, so you minimize scheduling conflicts. We have patients in our clinic who book their entire treatment series in advance, so they can get their choice of time.

How Long Between Laser Hair Removal Treatments

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Hi Siouxella.  The correct answer to the question is that it depends.  The hair growth cycle is different lengths for different areas of the body.  In some cases, the hair growth cycle can be as short as four weeks and in other cases it can be longer than 12 weeks.  Because we often treat multiple areas simultaneously, we stick to an average of 6-8 weeks.

If we had to err on the side of longer than short, we would err on the side of longer in between treatments.  Doing treatments too close together means the hair that has fallen out previously has not returned and so treatments are wasted.  We would recommend going in sooner than every 4 months, but would still say that you are not wasting your money, as long as the practitioner is using a laser that's good for your skin type (see our link below for a blog about laser and skin types).

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Time Between Laser Hair Removal Sessions

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Great question!   Ideally you should have the bikini area treated every 4 to 6 weeks in order to target hairs that are in a new growth cycle.  Most patients see progressive improvement with each treatment.  It should not matter how long you wait in bewteen treatments, but some hair does seem to regrow with time, even after several sessions space appropriately apart.  You do not want to treat any sooner than 4 to 6 weeks, but spacing it out further should not affect your results.  Make sure it is being done by a reputable and experienced provider.  

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.