Cycles of hair growth play a major role in your hair removal treatment regimen. Excessive hair growth can be caused by a variety of things including heredity, stress, medication, and hormonal changes. For women puberty, pregnancy and menopause play important parts in determining hair growth. Many researchers say that there can be as many as 2500 hair follicles per square inch, but less than 100 hairs will be showing at any given time. For these reasons, during treatment, it is extremely difficult for anyone to predict (not even your doctor) the exact length of time before there is no more growth in the treatment area.
ANAGEN: This is the “perfect” stage for treatment. The hair is grown and it is visible above the skin and can be treated. There is plenty of water and salt available in the root area for either thermolysis, or galvanic electrolysis. The hair shaft is attached to the papilla, thus enabling the laser to attack the melanin in the shaft and disable the papilla. This period for facial and body hair can be as long as two weeks.
CATAGEN: The “perfect” stage for treatment has passed. The growth process has reversed itself and the hair is getting ready to shed (this is not the same shedding process as post laser treatment). The moisture, water and salt have begun to dry up. Follicle destruction by thermolysis or galvanic electrolysis is almost impossible (hairs can be destroyed in early Catagen if the needle is inserted into the follicle to the depth of the root). It is still possible to treat with a laser since the follicle treated in the Catagen stage will still produce another hair. This stage is remarkably variable and can be as little as two days.
TELOGEN: This is the final stage, the “resting” stage. The hair is neither developing nor growing. It cannot be treated during this stage, as it usually not visible above the skin. For laser treatment, the hair shaft is fully detached from the papilla, thus not allowing the laser to attack the melanin in the shaft and disable the papilla. This unpredictable phase can be as short as a few days or as long as a few years.
To review, there are three stages of hair growth – Anagen, Catagen and Telogen. The “perfect” time for hair to be permanently destroyed is when it is in the Anagen or “growing” stage. It can take 4 to 12 weeks for a hair to grow from the matrix, or papilla, to the surface of the skin. Therefore, if you tweeze a hair today, it is generally impossible for you to see the exact hair in a week. These cycles can vary somewhat from individual to individual, and render individual patterns that are vastly different.
Your “commitment” to either electrolysis or laser hair removal is very important! Hair can grow approximately ½ inch per month, but the hair on a woman’s lip may reach only ¼ inch above the skin. This means the hair would be visible above the skin, in the Anagen stage approximately 2 weeks. If electrolysis appointments are missed, permanent hair removal cannot be achieved as quickly since some of the hair will have begun to reach the shedding stage before treatment and therefore complete destruction of the papilla cannot be achieved. Laser treatments are schedule 4-6 weeks apart to coincide with the Anagen cycle.
Please keep in mind that your electrolysis/laser technician is a dedicated professional who is eager to help you achieve your goal of permanent hair removal.