Many people have unwanted hair growing somewhere on their body, and if you’re a woman, the chances are good that you have at least one problem area where you would love to be permanently rid of hair growth. Excessive hair growth is classified as either hypertrichosis or hirsutism.
Hypertrichosis is the excessive growth of body hair in a normal or abnormal pattern. It may be genetic or due to medications, hormones, malnutrition, tumors or metabolic problems.
Hirsutism is excessive growth of hair in women, but in a male pattern — such as the beard, mustache or lower abdomen and may be due to hormonal problems, medications, tumors or heredity.
Many treatment options for managing unwanted hair have been available over the years, such as shaving and waxing, but these methods are temporary and offer varying degrees of success.
MEDICAL/PROFESSIONAL LASER HAIR REMOVAL
Dermatologists use lasers to safely and effectively treat larger areas of unwanted hair with minimal patient discomfort and fewer complications than other hair-reduction methods. Most lasers are equipped with a cooling device that reduces the discomfort from the laser light and also protects the top layer of skin from excessive heating and potential changes in pigmentation.
Laser devices send specific concentrated beams of light through the skin that are absorbed by the melanin (dark) pigment present in the hair follicle shafts. Because hair grows in cycles, repeated treatments are necessary to completely destroy all of the hair follicles.
Darker hair responds best to laser hair removal. Lighter-colored hair is least responsive, but topical medications can be used in an effort to increase effectiveness. Patients seeking laser hair removal are advised to avoid tanning and sunless tanners and to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen for up to six weeks prior to treatment.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The percentage of hairs removed per session varies by location on the body, with thinner-skinned areas like armpits and bikini area generally responding better than thick-skinned areas like the back and chin. About 10 percent to 25 percent reduction in hair growth can be expected with each treatment. Any hair that regrows following treatment tends to be lighter and finer in texture.