OK, seems a lot of young men with regrowth problems here! I went to a top dermatology and hair center in NY and saw a team of MDs.
They believe that in young healthy males laser hair removal produces more of a temporary “laser waxing.” In young male patients they’ve seen most hair eventually regrew within two years.
They explained that even when the cells of the follicle and dermal papilla (root) are completely destroyed the cells lining the lower third of the hair shaft will migrate and regenerate the hair. This process is influenced by age, gender, diet, exercise, genetics, unknowns, etc.
It tends to happen in men since we have more cells lining the follicle, more cells in the dermal papilla, thicker hair to begin with, more testosterone, etc. Being young is perhaps a bigger factor since 1. cellular regeneration rate is higher and 2. the 20s is actually the time when most men experience the highest rate body/facial hair growth (although this an average and the age of maximum growth is highly variable depending on the individual). That would mean a lot of hair growth is new hair that was never targeted by the laser.
They said the process happens much slower in an older and female patients. They have less hormones, less cells lining the follicle, slower healing, etc.
They said one “problem” with lasers is that the majority of patients getting it are older women, on whom it is most effective. But when young verile men get the treatment they see poor results. Since so few young men get the treatment, they are often dismissed as those few percent of patient’s that “don’t respond.” The science of why is never looked at.
It is also never explained to patients what is meant by “permanent.” Permanent only means the laser company showed the FDA that it reduced the total number of growing hairs for one growth cycle! They said that longitudinal studies with every laser have showed increasing regrowth over time, but no studies measure longer than 18-24 months. Most of the MDs agreed that without touch-ups most patients (even female) would see complete regrowth within several years.
When I asked why electrolysis works they explained that the damage is delivered directly into the deep follicle and subcutaneously (beneath the skin). The follicle is thus scarred. They explained that with lasers, this selective and total “fibrosis” is very difficult to achieve. There reasons seemed to differ. One said it was because any amount of laser energy strong enough to scar the inside of the follicle, but delivered above the skin would scar the epidermis. Another disagreed with that and said since laser targets melanin in hair he thought it was possible to achieve the proper strength but that it would be far too painful, especially in sensitive areas like face and pubic. He also thought that since it is delivered above the skin it is unlikely to reliably reach the dermal papilla unless performed on areas with little subcutaneous fat and thin skin. Even then it is losing energy as it passes through hair and skin.
I was told since I saw regrowth at only a few months it was likely that I’d have a full face of hair again in a year or two. I asked about topical steroids to speed the process, but they said I really don’t need that. They said that given enough time everyone will see regrowth of lasered hair.