What Happens If You Don't Complete Your Laser Hair Removal Sessions?

Laser hair removal can be extremely rewarding, often ridding the treated area of unwanted hair for months or even years. In some cases, laser hair removal results are even permanent. This form of hair removal makes the skin smoother as it alleviates certain hair-related skin conditions and gets rid of ingrown hairs for good. However, the process is not a clear-cut path suitable for all. The effectiveness and amount of strands removed can vary greatly depending on hair amount, texture, hormonal changes, skin type, and even hair color. Not to mention the discomfort, in-between periods, and the cost.

The price of laser hair removal is not exactly recession-friendly. In 2020, the average cost of this procedure was $389, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. This is still dependent upon how many treatments you need and the size of the area. Some dermatologists suggest receiving six to eight sessions for best results, while others recommend four to six. In addition, treatments must be completed every four to six weeks. With so many directions to follow, laser hair removal can be a major commitment. Therefore, this could make it very easy for patients to fall off after a few sessions. So what happens if you don't make it to all sessions recommended by your provider? Will your skin suffer? Is the hair now doomed for life? Well, not exactly.

Skipping future laser hair removal appointments may reduce its effectiveness

You run the risk of decreasing its potency if you skip a hair removal session or opt to stop after one or two treatments. During the weeks-long period in between appointments, your hair goes through a regrowth period. These stages are anagen, catagen, telogen, and exogen. Since hair removal is most effective during the anagen phase, too much time between your sessions can result in hair moving onto the next regrowth stage, deeming it untreatable.

Another thing to consider is the laser's purpose is to damage hair follicles, preventing hair from growing. Hair that does develop is usually thinner. Failing to complete every treatment may not completely kill or destroy follicles, meaning the hair will grow back to its original state over time. If at any point, you recover from your laser burnout and give it another try, you may have to undergo additional treatments.

Your pain tolerance for laser hair removal could decrease

Though laser hair removal is a fast process, especially in smaller areas, some pain is still associated with it. Different regions of the body tend to be more painful. Dermatologist and founder of Capital Laser & Skin Care, Elizabeth Tanzi, explained to Teen Vogue that the bikini area, underarm, legs, and back tend to be the most painful spots, comparing it to a "deep needle." Other hair laser providers say it resembles a rubber band snapping against the skin. Vogue Contributing Editor Chloe Malle calls the process" excruciatingly uncomfortable," even admitting that she'd prefer actual rubber band torture than undergoing the burning sensation felt by the laser. 

Novus Spine and Pain Center says frequent exposure to pain increases your tolerance for it. If you've been going through a few rounds of laser hair removal, there's a big possibility you have grown accustomed to the stinging sensation. Choosing to stop treatments prematurely may decrease the tolerance you've built. If a year or two goes by, and you decide to give the laser another try, you may be a bit squirmish. 

Ultimately, abandoning your laser hair removal is not the end of the world. With such a strict regimen needed to see maximum results, don't feel guilty if it's simply not for you. Other common hair removal methods to consider are waxing, shaving, hair removal creams, plucking, and threading. Whatever you choose, remember, it's just hair.