Abnormal hair growth can be caused by heredity, irregular levels of hormones and some medications.

There are also other rare causes of abnormal hair growth.

How is the hair removed? The traditional method of hair removal on the face is electrolysis, which is like an electric needle that burns out the unwanted hair follicle. The new hair removing lasers can erase unsightly hair with greater efficiency, less pain, less long term cost and better results.

How does the laser work? This remarkable new treatment destroys the hair follicles with a light source or true laser. This laser produces a high energy flash of light that passes safely through normal skin. The light is then absorbed by the follicle and converted into heat, destroying the follicle. Lightly pigmented or normal untanned skin absorbs very little of the light energy and is not damaged by the laser.

How are the laser treatments performed? A cool gel is placed onto the skin, the laser then is placed over the gel and a flash of light is triggered.

How many treatments do I need? Face, armpits and bikini areas require approximately 3-4 treatments at 6-8 weeks apart. For all other areas, treatments are spaced at 3 months apart for 3-4 treatments.

Does it hurt? The treatment feels like a rubber band snapping the skin with a temporary stinging sensation afterwards. Anesthetic cream can be used for this discomfort if you would prefer. Most patients require no medications for the treatments. Applying ice off and on for 20 minute intervals for 3 hours after the treatment minimizes redness and puffiness that can occur.

What does the area look like after treatment? The treated area may be red and puffy and rarely some blisters that will form looking like a sunburn – this lasts usually 12-24 hours and disappears by itself. After the laser treatment the area treated feels smooth like having a wax treatment however there may be residual hair in the follicles looking like a dark spot and this can usually be rubbed off gently during bathing and showering. Once the hairs have been expelled there is a temporary hair removal of all the hairs in the treated areas for 6-8 weeks on the face, armpits and bikini area and up to 12 weeks for the rest of the areas such as trunk and extremities.

Can all hair types be treated with lasers? Black hair on light skin does the best. Unwanted hair on any area of the body may be treated. Hair treatments should not be used on people with darkly tanned or those who form keloids (thick scars). The newer hair lasers can be used in patients with darker skin “but not if you have a sun tan.”

Will the hair grow back? In some patients hair will regrow and not respond at all. Removal of brown, white, or tan hair is less successful than removal of black hair.

There are many new hair lasers on the market. Be careful that you choose a laser and a centre that is experienced and has the proper laser equipment.

Dr. B. Kent Remington