Hair Growth Cycles:
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, 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 (Figure 1): 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 to three weeks.
Catagen (Figure 2): 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 laser since a 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 (Figure 3): This is the
final stage, the "resting" stage. The hair is neither developing nor
growing. It can not be treated during this stage, as it usually is 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 6 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 same hair in a week. These cycles can vary
somewhat from individual to individual, and render individual patterns that are
"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 can not 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 can not be achieved. Laser treatments are
scheduled for 6 – 8 weeks apart to coincide with the Anagen cycle.
Please keep in mind that your
electrologist/laser technician is a dedicated professional who is eager to help
you achieve your goal of permanent hair removal.