Laser Hair Removal 101: The Body Hair Growth Cycle Explained

Hair: We all have it, and it grows in a wide spectrum of colors and textures, with each person’s hair unique to their head and body. But what really is the function of hair, and why does it grow the way it does? The Western Dermatology Consultants team offers laser hair removal and other forms of cosmetic dermatology for the Albuquerque area. When it comes to laser hair removal, in order to achieve optimal results, it’s helpful to be aware of how hair grows.


What is Hair? 

Your hair consists of keratin: the same hard, protective protein that is abundant in the nails and skin. Each hair consists of two aspects: holes or cavities of cells known as follicles located in the epidermis, and the visible shafts that project from the follicles. The number of hair follicles we develop all over the body as a growing fetus (approximately five million) remains the same throughout our lives.  

It’s normal for people to shed around 100 strands of hair a day. However, there are various hair conditions—like androgenetic alopecia—that may cause men and women alike to experience hair thinning or loss at some point in their adult life. Stress, aging, hormonal shifts, genetics, ethnicity, pregnancy, diet, and the use of certain chemicals or hair products can all impact hair growth and loss.  

An individual hair is pushed up and out of a follicle to extend over the surface of the skin. As it grows, hair receives essential oils that keep it soft, healthy, and shiny. There are two basic types of hair produced by follicles, structured in a similar way: the light, barely visible fuzz known as vellus hair, which covers most of the body, and the longer terminal hair that grows on the head and other areas, such as the armpits. Sometimes, vellus hair changes into terminal hair—for example, when boys go through puberty and develop darker, thicker facial hair.  

Follicles play a role in forming the texture of your hair and whether it turns out straight, wavy, or curl, as well as its thickness, as determined by the size of the follicle. The coloration of each hair is influenced by pigment cells contained in the follicle. Nourishment for the cells is provided by small blood vessels located at the base of the hair follicle.  

The rate of hair growth varies, depending on the individual. Generally, the length or a hair increases by around half an inch each month. The three stages of the hair growth cycle are anagen (the active growth phase, which can last between three to five years), catagen (the transitional phase, during which the hair follicle collapses and separates from the blood vessels), and telogen (the resting/shedding phase, when older hairs fall out).


How Do Lasers Remove Body Hair? 

Many men and women are self-conscious about the unwanted presence of excessive, coarse hair on their body, especially in areas where it wouldn’t typically appear. at the very least, a good number of people find it inconvenient to routinely shave, pluck, or wax it away. Genetics and hormonal activity are some of the main contributors to this problem. Laser hair removal reduces hair growth from the inside out. The follicles that create and hold hair shafts can be damaged by lasers. Heat from light energy transmitted by the device “hits” the melanin in actively growing hairs and is absorbed. When the temperature gets high enough (which happens quickly), the follicle loses its ability to routinely produce hairs in the future. While body hair isn’t permanently eliminated, the growth of body hair slows, and any new hairs are thinner, finer, and less noticeable.  

Some of the areas where laser hair removal can be administered include the face, legs, underarms, Brazilian/bikini line areas, and back. Many patients prefer the ease and convenience of laser hair removal, as it reduces the need for razors, waxing, tweezing, and other traditional methods of hair reduction. 

To discover more about laser hair removal and other techniques for cosmetic dermatology in Albuquerque, contact Western Dermatology Consultants. Call 505-855-9267 or submit a contact form to book an appointment.