Hair Removal

Remove unwanted body hair

A variety of medical techniques can be used to achieve permanent hair removal, including intense pulsed light (IPL), laser hair removal and electrolysis. Common sites for hair removal include the eyebrows, upper lip, armpits, abdomen, chest, legs, back and pubic areas, and both men and women are good candidates for treatment.

The Cost of Body Hair Removal

Your costs depend on the hair removal method you choose, the area of your body that you want hair removed from, and how much hair you want removed. Electrolysis is generally billed in increments tied to time, while IPL and laser treatments usually have flat fees associated with each body part to be treated.

Expect electrolysis treatments to cost between $50 and $100 per hour. IPL and laser hair removal treatments can cost anywhere from $50 to $750 per session; the larger the body zone to be treated, the higher the cost. Generally speaking, IPL is more affordable than laser hair removal, but has decreased overall reliability.

Patient Evaluation

Before treatment, you will meet with the doctor or licensed technician to have your hair growth evaluated and to discuss your expectations. Today, many clinics offer multiple treatment options, and the professional who evaluates you will suggest the one that is most likely to generate the results you want.

Electrolysis is easiest to apply to localized areas with relatively thin, manageable hair growth. Mostly, it is used for eyebrow and facial hair removal.

Laser hair removal and IPL present additional challenges; because they can affect skin pigmentation, they are usually reserved for light-skinned people. However, specialized lasers have been developed which decrease the chances of post-procedural pigmentation alterations, and these are safer for use on darker-skinned individuals. Lasers tend to work best on darker hair; if you have light, fine body hair, your doctor may suggest IPL instead, though intense pulsed light treatments can be uncomfortable for individuals with thick hair growths.

An Overview of Hair Removal Procedures

Here's how each of these three popular techniques works:

  • Electrolysis is performed with the assistance of a hair-thin metal probe, which is inserted into each individual hair follicle. Electricity is passed through the probe, which damages or destroys the hair follicle, preventing future growth. To achieve complete and permanent hair removal, patients must be treated over the course of several phases to prevent the damaged follicle from regenerating. Most patients experience some hair regrowth, though the new hair is typically finer, thinner and lighter.
  • Most laser treatments are designed to selectively target melanin (in people with dark hair) or pheomelanin (in people with light hair). These compounds are responsible for the coloration of hair. When they are targeted by lasers at the hair follicle level, the result is a cessation of hair growth without damage to the skin and other nearby structures.
  • Intense pulsed light (IPL) approaches to hair removal are said by some to be equally effective as laser treatments, while others contend that they are less effective. Either way, they are more affordable, and tend to achieve the best results when applied to finer, thinner hair. IPL focuses broad-spectrum pulses of light through the skin and into the hair follicle, where hair strands and roots are vaporized once the light converts to heat energy. It can also be used as a skin treatment to rejuvenate sun-damaged skin or skin affected by rosacea or acne scars. However, as a hair removal method, is primarily affects the uppermost levels of the skin and does not destroy the hair roots as effectively as lasers or electrolysis.

Both laser and IPL treatments can be used to achieve general body hair removal as well as pubic hair removal.

The Risks Associated With Permanent Hair Removal

Electrolysis is considered very reliable and safe; the only side effects you're likely to incur include redness or swelling of the treated area. If you have particularly sensitive skin, you may develop blisters during the course of your treatment. Should this happen to you, cease treatment and choose another body hair removal method.

The risks of laser hair removal include burning or discoloration of the skin, temporary or permanent changes in skin pigmentation, scab formation, acne flare-ups, and redness, tenderness, swelling and pain in the treated area.

Blistering and sunburn-like skin discomfort can result from IPL treatments. Pain can also occur. These side effects are more pronounced if this technique is used to treat sensitive areas, such as the chest, face or pubic zone.

Recovering from Hair Removal Treatments

Your recovery should be swift. In most cases, you'll only need to apply topical creams or ointments to soothe irritated skin, as directed by your doctor or the technician delivering treatment. It is important, however, that you do not wax or bleach a treated region, as scarring can result. If you notice any pigmentation changes, report them to your caregiver during a follow-up session. Seek prompt medical attention if you are alarmed by the suddenness or severity of post-treatment skin discomfort, discoloration or pigmentation changes.

Alternatives to Medical Intervention

Most professionals advise patients to try alternative hair removal products before resorting to electrolysis, laser hair removal or IPL treatments. They can be hard on the skin and they are not entirely pain-free, though advancements have been made to improve patient comfort.

Hair removal wax and hair removal cream have long been used to achieve excellent, though temporary results. These are readily available at your local pharmacy if you'd like to try an alternative to shaving but aren't yet sure about electrolysis, IPL or laser treatments.