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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Hair Removal

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

Hair Removal - Electrolysis
Question: What is your opinion on electrolysis?

Answer: I rarely see patients who have electrolysis and have never seen one with complications, although I'm sure they occur. Recently, there was clearance by the FDA for use of a laser to remove hair. Many dermatologists and plastic surgeons have this device. It may take 2-3 applications and will be slightly more expensive, but it is permanent and relatively risk free.

Hair Removal
Question: My problem is finding a hair removal method that works for me, especially on my legs. After I shave my legs, you can still see the end of the hair under my skin, so it doesn't look as though they have been completely shaved. In-grown hairs are also a common occurrence for me. I've tried creams such as Neet and body sugaring, but nothing seems to work. I don't particularly want to wax, and at the moment, electrolysis is pretty much out of the question. Do have any ideas?

Answer: The plastic surgeons have a new laser that is supposed to be very effective in hair removal. It will require a couple of treatments and your legs will have the equivalent of a major sunburn. The cost varies, but it isn't cheap ($3000 or so depending on the market). Insurance will not usually reimburse for this purpose. It will be permanent.

Hair Removal
Question: I am looking for a way to rid my face and head of all my hair, other than shaving twice a day. I have checked into the laser removal, electrolysis,and waxing. I would like to find a drug, other than chemotherapy, that could help get rid of this hair. Places that I've talked with say it won't work on men.

Answer: Electroysis is about the only way to permanently remove hair. For a while, a ruby laser was approved for use by cosmetic and plastic surgeons, which was supposed to eradicate hair follicles. However, it was removed from the market before I have had any experience with using it. Systemic spironolactone is the time honored treatment - mainly in women. Some physicians have used topical spironolactone to avoid the breast enlargement seen with this drug, but this is not an FDA approved indication.

Laser Hair Removal
Question: Is removing hair by laser or by using very strong light is safe? Can it cause dangerous side-effects? Maybe cancer? Is there any safe way to remove hair for good?

Answer: The laser treatments seem safe to date-no long term(greater than 8 years or so ) data is available. It also is permanent-although, several treatments may be necessary due to some hair follicles being in a "rest" state. This seems to be the best answer from my prospective; but, I can't guarantee long term safety.
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