Facial Hair Solutions

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Dermatologist Laurie Polis answers viewer's questions!

Dear Dr. Polis:

“My body is experiencing some major hormonal changes that are making hair growth on my chin and upper lip a problem. Can you tell me how laser hair removal works? Is it better than electrolysis?”

Cindy R., St. Louis, MO

Hi Cindy!

Laser (or intense pulsed light) hair removal works by having directed wavelengths of light which are absorbed by the hair and the hair producing bulbs located deeper in the skin and destroying or traumatizing them. since there are three phases of hair growth, one usually needs at least three session of laser, and usually more, to achieve long term hair reduction. Electrolysis is risky in the wrong or inexperienced hands as it can scar, (as can laser if done by an inexperienced practitioner).

If your hair growth is caused by hormonal input then you have a harder mountain to climb and I might consult a dermatologist as well as a gynecologist to consider hormonal therapy, while you proceed with your laser or light source. There are topical hair reduction prescriptions as well, but they only work for as long as you apply them. They are particularly good for white or light hair. Laser/IPL, I feel, is better than electrolysis for areas of multiple hairs as its "footprint" is more postage stamp size as opposed to the needle and hair by hair approach of electrolysis which I feel is better for a stray hair here or there.

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