a) For most people, this is due to genetic or familial factors. There is no underlying medical cause for the excessive hair growth.
b) Rarely, excessive hairs maybe due to underlying medical problems. These conditions are associated with hormonal disturbances resulting in extra hair growth. Besides excessive hairs, these patients may have other signs and symptoms of hormonal disturbances such as weight gain, deepening of voice and menstrual irregularities,
c) Occasionally, excessive hair growth maybe due to medical and surgical treatments. Certain medications, such as cyclosporin A ,which is used to treat various medical conditions, may cause excessive hair growth as part of its side effects. Certain surgeries, such as tissue grafting, may result in excessive hairs at unusual locations due to the use of hairy grafts.
Your doctor will go through the medical history and examination with you thoroughly to rule out underlying medical problems.
The extra hairs can indeed be left alone. Most people want to remove the extra hairs for cosmetic reason. For some people, the extra hairs have also caused much embarrassment and psychological distress.
There are various methods available for hair removal, some of them only result in temporary hair loss while some other methods result in more permanent hair removal.
The temporary methods remove the hair shafts but leave the hair follicles and haif roots intact. The commonly used temporary methods Include shaving, waxing, application of depilatory creams and even plucking. There is also a new cream which helps in slowing down hair growth and is used in addition to other temporary hair removal methods. Given time, hairs will grow out from the hair follicles again and the process need to be repeated indefinitely.
The permanent methods remove the hair shafts and also result in destruction on the follicles and hair roots. For a long time. electrolysis was the only permanent method. However, laser hair removal has emerged as a better method in recent years.
Electrolysis involves the application of electric current via a fine electric probe into individual hair follicle. This will result in destruction of individual follicle. However, electrolysis is extremely time consuming and may result in scarring of surrounding skin due to the nonselective destruction of tissue.
Laser hair removal make use of intense light source of specific wavelength to heat up and destroy the hair follicle selectively. The special light is absorbed by pigment within the follicle and the heat generated in the process is enough to “burn” the hair follicle without causing much injury to surrounding tissue.
- cause selective destruction of hair follicles.
- Achieve long term hair reduction after multiple sessions of treatment.
- Cause some minor side effects such as swelling and pigmentation of skin In a minority of patients. These are more common among patients with darker skin.
Lasers DO NOT
- Achieve permanent hair destruction after one single treatment.
- Work equally well for all patients. In fact, different laser systems may work differently for patients with different skin types. Generally, patients with dark hairs and fair skin respond best to laser hair removal.
Before the laser treatment, you should
- Avoid waxing and plucking of hairs for 2 weeks
- Avoid excessive sun exposure 4 weeks before treatment. Your doctor will want you to lose the tan if you had prior sun tanning. This is to avoid damage to the overlying skin, as the tanned skin will also absorb the laser light.
- Shave the hairs short on the day of laser treatment.
- Consume the medications prescribed by your doctor. Some antiviral medications maybe needed if certain body areas, such as the lips or bikini lines are treated, especially if the patient has prior history of herpes infection. Bleaching agents maybe used for some patients with very dark skin.
After the laser treatment, you should
- Continue the medications prescribed and complete the course of treatment.
- Continue to practice sun protection.
- Take good care of the treated sites to avoid any possible infection. Your doctor may prescribe you with some ointment to sooth the skin and to prevent skin infection.
You will need multiple sessions of treatment to achieve significant hair reduction.
The treated areas may not be completely empty after laser hair removal treatments.
However, the remaining hairs may be lighter in color and finer in texture.
There may be small risk of pigmentation of skin after laser treatment, this will usually resolve with time if you practice proper sun protection.