Long-Lasting Solutions to Hairy Situations and When Medical Attention is Needed

Christina Smitley, FNP-C

In recent years, there has been a flurry of innovation in long-term hair-removal techniques, both in lasers, as well as with other procedures.

Bathing suits are arriving and hairy body parts can no longer hide. “The extra attention that beach season typically brings,” notes Christina Smitley, a board-certified family nurse practioner specializing in dermatology with Advanced Dermatology PC, “is even greater now, and people are looking for solutions to unwanted hair.”

Men and women have long removed hair with maintenance approaches: regularly plucking, waxing, shaving, and using depilatories. “Fortunately,” continues Smitley, “the advances we’ve made in dermatology offer increased access to long-lasting solutions to unwanted facial and body hair.”

In the United States, most men and women engage in some degree of hair removal. “As part of regular grooming,” says Smitley, “those with normal levels of hair often remove some to achieve a desired appearance. And, in cases of medical hirsutism, women may contend with increased amounts of hair due to an underlying medical condition, such as a hormonal imbalance.”

In recent years, there has been a flurry of innovation in long-term hair-removal techniques, both in lasers, as well as with other procedures.

“Today’s choices,” observes Smitley, “offer options for all skin tones and hair colors, and include built-in technology to increase comfort and decrease side effects. Unlike the ongoing maintenance of tweezing, waxing, or shaving, they can offer a long-term solution to unwanted hair on our faces and bodies.”

To help people make informed choices, Smitley offers the following suggestions:

Six Tips for Long-Lasting Hair Removal:

1. Ladies, first rule out an underlying condition: “Women with excess hair on their faces and bodies – backs, chests, abdomen or inner thighs – should work with their doctor to make sure that an underlying medical problem is not the cause,” emphasizes Smitley. “In some cases, women may produce excess hair – medical name ‘hirsutism’ – due to conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome or Cushing syndrome.”

2. Experience matters: “Today’s increased options,” notes Smitley, “accentuates the importance of working with a skin specialist who can customize the most effective approach and who has experience with different procedures. Lasers, for example, are extremely effective and safe when used correctly, but, in less experienced hands, can fail to produce results or cause damage.”

3. Dark-haired? Today’s lasers have you covered: “Lasers use light energy to destroy the hair follicle,” explains Smitley. “They are effective for dark hair because the light energy is absorbed by the hair follicle’s pigment. And today’s lasers – for example, the Ellman Cheveux, the Apogee, the GentleLASE, and the Soprano – allow the specialist to vary the wavelength so that dark hair can be eliminated regardless of skin tone. In terms of comfort, options include built-in cooling that can also increase efficacy.”

4. Light-haired? There’s a choice for you, too: “An exciting addition to our hair-removal procedures is the miraSmooth, which eliminates hair through microwave energy,” says Smitley. “This works for all shades of hair, giving silvers, blondes, and redheads a choice as well. And it can be a BOGO, as, if used for the underarm area, it also reduces sweating.”

5. DO follow the ‘before’ and ‘after’ Dos and Don’ts: “Pre- and post-treatment,” Smitley advises, “stick with the plan. With laser treatments, for example, that means refraining from hair removal before starting and being extra careful about sun exposure until after the entire process is fully completed.”

6. Time it right: “With lasers,” states Smitley, “a series of treatments – typically three to seven – is needed to have a long-lasting effect. This is to cover the varied growth cycles of all of the hair follicles in the area being treated. The number of treatments and the time between each is based on individual characteristics, so you’ll want to make sure that you understand your specific timeframe and plan your treatments so they’re a good fit with your calendar.”

“Thanks to dermatologists’ hair removal options,” concludes Smitley, “putting away the tweezers and razor can be a liberating part of our new normal.”

Bio: Christina Smitley, FNP-C, is a family nurse practitioner with Advanced Dermatology pc, is board-certified through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

Advanced Dermatology P.C. and the Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery (New York & New Jersey) is one of the leading dermatology centers in the nation, offering highly experienced physicians in the fields of cosmetic and laser dermatology as well as plastic surgery and state-of-the-art medical technologies. http://www.advanceddermatologypc.com

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