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Hair Removal (cont.)

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What are the pros and cons of laser hair removal?

Laser light is absorbed by pigment in the hair causing the production of heat that can be used to destroy both the hair and adjacent tissues. When done correctly in the appropriate patient, only the follicular tissues are damaged resulting in local hairlessness for an extended period of time. The process may have to be repeated several times before there is any permanent result. Those with contrasting light skin color and dark hair are the easiest to treat where as those in whom there is little color difference between skin and hair can be challenging. Those with darker skin often require lasers that generate longer wavelength light. Occasionally, it may be necessary to add an exogenous pigment to the hair if the hair is naturally uncolored. Laser hair removal is relatively expensive and should only be performed by an experienced operator. Laser hair removal can be painful. Poor results are frequently due to darkening of the treated skin and actual thermal burns. There are laser and light systems (Tria, E-ONE, Silk'n, and No!No! are trade names for use-at-home devices.) available for use at home by the untrained consumer. Whether this is a safe and effective approach to hair removal remains to be seen.

What are the pros and cons of shaving?

Depilation is hair removal above the level of the pore (follicular opening). Shaving is the most popular and cheapest type of depilation, and if performed safely, it results in a satisfactory appearance. In order to minimize follicular irritation (folliculitis), one should move the razor in the same direction that the hairs seem to be growing and pull the razor blade over the skin smoothly and evenly for only a single pass. It is important to use a good lubricant to reduce friction between the blade and the skin. It is also important to use a very sharp blade. Electric razors seem to be somewhat less likely to produce irritation, but repeated passes can produce folliculitis. Safe shaving technique does not produce perfectly smooth skin. There should be a short fragment of hair that remains, extending above the surface of the skin. Shaving must be repeated frequently. There are devices (No!No!) available for home use that "shave" hair by burning it close to the skin surface. This is probably no more effective than shaving.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/13/2016


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