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Cosmetic procedures: Hair removal

Unwanted hair is common on the upper lip, chin, cheeks, back, legs, fingers, feet and toes. It can be caused by a variety of factors including genetics, certain medicines such as hormones or steroids, and even medical abnormalities such as higher androgen (male hormone) levels or conditions of the endocrine system such as polycystic ovarian syndrome. 

Many people try plucking. Most people can get used to this painful method but it won't work effectively on large areas covered with unwanted hair. There are several hair removal methods but none are 100% permanent.

Hair removal methods

There are several ways to remove unwanted hair including over-the-counter products and those administered under a doctor's care. With most of these methods, the hair eventually grows back.

Shaving

Your hair growth rate will determine how often you have to shave the affected region. Shaving is best for legs, arms or facial hair. However, this hair removal method can cause ingrown hairs in the pubic region.

Plucking

Plucking is the most painful method, but may be the most worthwhile when there are just a few hairs you want to remove. Examples include reshaping your eyebrows or pulling out those few stray hairs that may appear on your face, especially for a woman. You should not use this hair removal method for large areas because it can cause ingrown hairs and scarring.

 

Depilation

Be cautious when selecting hair removal creams over-the-counter as not all creams are the same. For instance, a hair removal cream for pubic hair should not be used on the face. The chemicals in these products dissolve the hair shaft and can also cause superficial burns. If you have a history of allergic reactions, you may want to seek the advice of your doctor before trying any hair removal creams.

 

Hot waxing

You can do this at home or you can have it done in a beauty salon. Hot waxing can be messy and may leave some hairs behind because they can break off. Infection is one side effect to watch out for. Still, many women use this hair removal method for their bikini line and for hair on the upper lip.

Laser hair removal

This is one of the longest-lasting methods and generally requires at least three treatment sessions.

A laser beam or light pulse works to destroy the hair bulb itself. The treatment can be expensive and sometimes painful. Make sure you choose a doctor or technician who is highly trained and knowledgeable. You may require several sessions, but it can be used on many parts of the body where unwanted hair may appear.

 

Electrolysis

There are two main hair removal methods of electrolysis: galvanic and shortwave diathermy.

  • Galvanic chemically destroys hair follicle.
  • Diathermy, also known as thermolysis or thermolytic, uses heat to destroy the hair follicle.

Whichever type you opt for, make sure you find a professional who is highly trained and knowledgeable about the type of hair removal method you want. Electrolysis can be used on all parts of the body to remove unwanted hair.

Oral medicines

If none of these hair removal methods seem to address your particular problems, ask your doctor about oral medicines to inhibit hair growth. 

One topical cream which can slow the growth of facial hair in women is eflornithine. This cream slows growth but will not remove the hair.

 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on May 03, 2012

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