Permanent Hair Removal

Jodie Michalak

As any woman who regularly removes hair from unexpected or unwanted places can attest, permanent hair removal is a necessary luxury. Thanks to technological advances, permanently smooth skin is within reach.

Understanding Growth Cycles

Before embarking on any sort of hair removal venture, you'll need to understand hair growth cycles and how they affect the long term outcome of removal methods. Hair growth cycles will affect how often you go in-between treatments, as well as the length of time you'll need to continue treatments to reach desired results. The three phases of hair growth include:

  • Anagen: 85-90% of all hair is currently in the anagen phase growing at an active rate of 0.34-0.4 mm. a day for an average of 2-6 years.
  • Catagen: Nearing the end of a hair growth cycle, the catagen phase lasts 1-3 weeks, just enough time for the dermal papilla to detach from the hair and tell the fibers to stop growing.
  • Telogen: As the last phase of hair growth, the telogen period is where any uprooted hairs from the catagen phase release and fall out during normal activities such as brushing and combing the hair. The shedding phases may last 1-3 months.

Since removal processes will be affected by growth cycles, you'll probably need to establish a plan that works best for your individual needs, as hair growth varies individual to individual. On average, most laser treatments continue for 6 to 8 sessions spread over a period of several months to ensure all phases of hair growth are treated. If for some reason you require more sessions, be advised more charges will likely incur. A free consultation beforehand will help you establish a treatment plan without any financial surprises.

Hair Removal Options

Although many companies claim their hair remover is permanent, definitions of the word can vary. Some may mean that customers can go several weeks between shavings or waxings; others may mean months or years. Very few define the word to mean that hair will never return. Make sure you read the fine print to determine exactly what permanent means. In many cases, "long-term hair removal" is a better description.

Laser Hair Removal

For most clients, laser treatment drastically reduces hair growth. The FDA has recently approved several machines for permanent hair removal, but there are no guarantees. On the plus side, any regrowth is typically lighter and sparser than the original hair.

While hair removal by laser can be quick, gentle, and effective, the technology is not right for every client. Use of a laser on inappropriate candidates can cause permanent skin problems. These issues make it even more important that the practitioner is fully trained.

In proper candidates, most areas can be treated, including:

Please note that areas near the eyes should not be treated by laser.

Candidates

Not everyone qualifies for laser hair removal. Improper use on poor candidates can cause problems. Candidates must be screened by a properly trained practitioner, but general guidelines include:

  • Hair must be darker than the skin. Clients with pale blonde hair are not ideal candidates since the laser will be unable to distinguish the hair from the skin.
  • Excessively tanned individuals are not good clients as their darker skin tone will make it difficult for the laser to target hair .
  • Extremely dark-complected clients are probably not candidates for the same reason as above.
  • In general, the best candidates will have dark hair and light skin so that the laser can "see" the hair and work with optimal performance.
  • Laser typically is not a good option for gray hair as it blends too closely into the skin and makes it more difficult for the laser to treat.

Possible Side Effects

When laser removal is performed by a qualified practitioner and on a good candidate, there are no serious side effects. Trouble arises when untrained or unskilled individuals perform laser treatments. Other problems come from inadequate patient screening. In these cases, the following side effects are possible:

Please note that eye protection must be worn during treatment.

Finding a practitioner

It is important to check the credentials of any practitioner you consider. At a minimum, the practitioner should meet or exceed your state's requirements. Also ask for verification that he or she has attended an accredited school or training program. If possible, speak to past clients for feedback.

Electrolysis

Electrolysis is currently the only method that can promise truly permanent hair removal. However, most people require multiple treatments in order to reach the full benefit. In order to be effective, electrolysis must be performed by a well-trained practitioner. Electrolysis can be safely used on most body parts, including:

  • Eyebrows
  • Upper lip
  • Lower lip
  • Chin
  • Cheeks
  • Sideburns
  • Bikini line
  • Legs
  • Underarms
  • Breasts
  • Stomach
  • Toes

The Method

In electrolysis, a small probe is inserted into the hair follicle. Electricity flows through the probe and into the follicle, causing damage to the hair root. When performed properly, this prevents the root from generating new hair.

Possible Side Effects

When electrolysis is properly performed, side effects are rare. Although it would be an overstatement to say it is completely painless, most customers do not require pain relief. Additionally, about 10 percent of clients do not respond to treatments; for these people, hair will return.

There are a few temporarily bothersome signs that skin is healing, including:

  • Slight redness
  • Scabbing
  • Swelling of treated areas

Any real side effects of electrolysis stem from misuse of the equipment. If an untrained or unskilled individual attempts the procedure, the following problems could arise:

  • Infection
  • Permanent skin damage
  • Hair regrowth

Finding an Electrologist

There are several ways of finding an electrologist:

  • Word-of-mouth: This is one of the best ways to find a skilled practitioner. Ask your friends and relatives for referrals.
  • Doctor referrals: Ask your doctor if he or she knows of a highly trained electrologist. Dermatologists, especially, may be able to offer recommendations.
  • Yellow Pages: Many electrologists advertise in the Yellow Pages. While it is fine to find electrologist candidates in the Yellow Pages, try not to be swayed by advertising. No matter what the ads promise, you must still do your research.

When you have narrowed your search to a few promising candidates, check their credentials. Follow the following steps:

  • Check your state's specific requirements.
  • Speak to other clients to get their feedback.
  • Ask for proof that the practitioner has attended an accredited school or training program. This is especially important in states that do not have formal licensing or certification requirements.

Drastic hair reduction or hair removal is possible, research is vital. Carefully screen practitioners you are considering. Check for customer feedback. Also check with your state's licensing organization. For proper candidates with treatment from qualified individuals, hair can be reduced if not permanently removed.

Permanent Hair Removal