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Treating Unwanted Hair

March 1, 2011

By: Dr. Craig Crippen

Dr. Crippen in Okanagan Life Magazine – Treating Unwanted Hair

There are a wide variety of treatments for unwanted hair. I will outline all of the most common and effective treatments available today.

The most common approach to removing hair is by shaving the hair off at the surface of the skin. Many people also choose to bleach darker hair and make it less noticeable. Since these treatments do not deal with the hair root, hair will continue to grow.

Other common treatments include plucking, waxing, sugaring or depilatory creams(usually cause significant skin irritation). Because the hair root remains intact, the hair will eventually grow back after a few weeks.

Electrolysis is another popular method that works by using electricity and a tiny metal probe to either heat each individual hair follicle or create a toxic solution near the hair follicle to permanently destroy it to prevent future hair growth. Its advantages are that it can be permanent, is only minimally painful, and will work with any hair colour. The largest disadvantage is that a large number of treatments are required which requires a great deal of time.

Laser Hair Removal is a more modern approach to the same goal. This time, light energy is delivered to the skin and the dark hair absorbs that energy which causes the hair root to heat up and become permanently damaged. The hair will not regrow if the heat is sufficient. The advantages to laser hair removal are that large areas can be treated relatively quickly and no hair growth is needed to perform the treatment. The downside of this method is that a number of sessions are necessary, not everyone is a candidate due to darker skin or lighter hair, and complications like blisters and burns can occur if too much heat is delivered by an inexperienced operator.

The main message here is that none of these treatments are guaranteed to be permanent although electrolysis and laser hair removal are pretty close to achieving that goal.

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