Unwanted hair is an extremely common complaint among men and women ranging in age from teen years through adulthood. Women most often are interested in having hair removed from their cheeks, upper lip, sideburns, chin, underarms, bikini area, and legs. Men often seek hair removal from the chest and back although sometimes request treatment of the beard area so as to decrease the need to shave as frequently.
Ways to Get Rid of Unwanted Hair
Most patients who are interested in laser hair removal have already tried other methods on the market and have been unsatisfied. Here are some of the most common approaches used to remove unwanted hair on the face or body:
- Topical Chemical Depilatories: Depilatories, such as Nair™ and similar products, may be used to reduce hair counts irrespective of hair color or thickness. On the plus side, these products are relatively inexpensive, painless, and readily available. The problem, however, is that their efficacy is variable and must be applied daily to exert an effect.
- Electrolysis: Electrolysis is a procedure in which a fine, electrified needle is inserted into hair follicles, one at a time. The electric current injures the follicle, thus preventing hair growth. The procedure may be performed on hair of any color or thickness. It is slow, tedious, somewhat painful and capable of causing scarring. Treating large areas requires numerous treatments, spread out over months or years. If only a few light-colored, fine hairs need to be treated, electrolysis may be an excellent option.
- Waxing and Threading: Waxing and threading involve the mechanical removal of hairs, pulling the hair shaft from the follicle. Any color or size hair may be treated. Large areas may be treated in one session, but, as with several other treatment options, these procedures are not permanent. Waxing or threading never produces long-term reduction of hair growth.
- Vaniqa®: Vaniqa® is a topically applied medical cream that can reduce hair growth with daily application. As is the case with other treatments, results with Vaniqa® use are variable, with some patients achieving significant reduction in hair growth and others seeing less impressive results. This prescription product may only be obtained through a physician. Vaniqa® is often used in conjunction with laser treatments or other methods of hair reduction to achieve enhanced results.
Who Benefits from Laser Hair Removal
Laser-assisted hair removal can produce long-term decrease in both the size and number of hair present in a given area. Some patients will achieve nearly complete removal of hair from a given area while others will still need to manage hair growth to a certain extent. For patients who do have to maintain hair growth after laser treatment, far less maintenance is typically required than was the case prior to treatment.
Ideal candidates for laser assisted hair removal have brown or black hair. Blonde, white, silver, or red hair does not typically respond well to currently existing laser technology. Any color skin can be treated safely if the treatments are performed with appropriate technology and a skilled operator. Although dark skin tones can be safely treated for hair removal, it is extremely important that the skin in the treated area is not tanned at the time of treatment as this increases the risk of side effects.
The most common areas treated with laser assisted hair removal are the face, underarm, and bikini area in women. The chest and back are the most popular areas with men. Other areas such as the beard in men and arms and legs in women are also treated as well.
Laser-assisted hair removal treatments are performed in the office. Topical anesthetic cream can be used if necessary for patient comfort. A series of treatments is required in order to achieve best outcomes. Periodic touch up treatments may be required after the initial series has been completed.