Dr. Andrew Weil on laser hair removal


#1

A good concise comment on the subject:

http://www.drweil.com/app/cda/drw_cda.html-command=TodayQA-questionId=263501

</font><blockquote><font size=“1” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>quote:</font><hr /><font size=“2” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>

Is Zapping Hair Safe?

“How do you feel about the safety and effectiveness of laser hair removal? Are there comparable natural alternatives?”

– Ruth Rillo

(Published 05/29/2003)

First, I should tell you that I know of no natural hair removal alternatives that would be comparable to laser hair removal (or electrolysis, which is another option). Laser hair removal is done with a low-energy laser that passes through the skin, permanently disrupting hair follicles in the treated area. Several different types of lasers are used for this purpose. The advantage of lasers over other forms of hair removal is that a larger area of the skin can be treated at one time than with electrolysis, which uses direct current to destroy the follicles.

Laser hair removal really should be considered hair “reduction” rather than permanent removal. If the procedure is done correctly, you’ll probably see a reduction in the 60 to 80 percent range. This is because hair growth is cyclical, and the laser treatment doesn’t interrupt the cycle for all of the hair in the treated area. The procedure works best if your hair is darker than your skin. If your hair is blonde, gray, white or red, it may not work at all. This is because dark hair absorbs more laser energy and is therefore easier to treat. Conversely, the darker your skin, the more difficult treatment is likely to be. You’ll need more treatments, and results may not be as satisfactory as they would be for those with lighter complexions. If you have a tan, you’ll probably be advised to wait until it fades before trying laser hair removal.

As far as risks are concerned, all medical procedures present some element of danger. Here, if the equipment isn’t top notch and well maintained, and the staff isn’t well trained and doesn’t take proper precautions, you can end up with burns, scars, or pigment changes. If you decide to go ahead with the procedure, make sure the doctor who treats you is board-certified in dermatology or plastic surgery and has a good track record in the use of lasers for hair removal.

Dr. Andrew Weil</font><hr /></blockquote><font size=“2” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>


#2

I think the growth cycle factor is what prevents laser from getting every hair. If the laser affects the growth cycle and it keeps changing (just a theory) there may be some hairs that don’t get treated in the right cycle. Of course changing treatment intervals may help. Either spacing the treatments further apart or closer together may help hit stubborn hairs in the growth stage.

But then again isn’t electrolysis only effective on hairs in the growth stage also?

RJC2001


#3

</font><blockquote><font size=“1” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>quote:</font><hr /><font size=“2” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Originally posted by RJC2001:
<strong>I think the growth cycle factor is what prevents laser from getting every hair. If the laser affects the growth cycle and it keeps changing (just a theory) there may be some hairs that don’t get treated in the right cycle. Of course changing treatment intervals may help. Either spacing the treatments further apart or closer together may help hit stubborn hairs in the growth stage.

But then again isn’t electrolysis only effective on hairs in the growth stage also?

RJC2001</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size=“2” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>RJC,

I have been thinking about as well, I think that if the laser does indeed reset or in any way alter the cycle of regrowth, that it may be hard to get certain hairs if the treatment intervals are always kept the same…I’m thinking about spacing my treatments further apart after a few more treatments (maybe going in every three months instead of every two), but I don’t know if that will help (i.e. maybe I should have the treatments closer together). The exact way to do this still remains a mystery to me, but let us know if you have any insight on this!

Another concern for me right now is the sheer number of fine hairs that are growing back.

I’m wondering whether I’m just going to be stuck with lots of fine hairs on my upper lip after my course of treatments.

Also, if these fine hairs aren’t eliminated, I have a feeling that some of them will turn back into terminal hairs after a while (i.e. if they’re not completely killed off, it may grow back as thick as before). Most of these fine hairs seem to be on my cheeks and especially on my upper lip.


#4

With only 60 - 80% permanent reduction, won’t this mean that I’d still have to shave? Still debating very hard whether to start laser treatments for my underarms.

My whole goal is not to have to shave at all under there - the problem is that I always end up with cuts from my inept technique.

To others on the board who have had underarm removal: do you still shave?

cheers,
fuchsia


#5

Underarms can be cleared in as little as 6 hours in 9 to 12 months in electrolysis if your practitioner can work fast enough, and you co-operate with scheduling the appointments properly.

That would be permanent hair removal.
That would also give you little to no healing time needed, and you would always have full clearance after the first full sweep, should you do your work on the proper schedule.


#6

fuchsia-

I have a friend who had laser hair removal for her underarms and she no longer shaves at all except one little place under one arm. She had three treatments a year ago, and is the one who inspired me to go – she is a friend that I trust and I know if she said that it worked, it did.

I have had three treatments so far and have seen a huge improvement. I probably had much more hair than she did to start with. I used to shave everyday or sometimes even twice a day. Most of the hair under my arms is gone now. I’m currently shaving about once a week, and I believe that I am going to require more than three treatments to get it all. (I purchased a “package” of 5.) The most wonderful thing is that even BEFORE my weekly shave, my underarms look cleaner than they did immediately AFTER shaving before I started treatment. The hairs are much finer and softer now.


#7

James,

Thanks for the advice about electrolysis. What perplexes me is choosing an electrologist. I don’t know anyone who has had electrolysis performed, and so don’t have a natural recommendation, and have called practitioners and they all sound similar based on phone conversations.

Whereas, with the laser, at least I’ve been able to identify a dermatologist’s office where the person performing the hair removal is a registered nurse, and my test patch from her did not result in any complications.

Subjectively, the idea of electrolysis makes me more frightened than the laser. I heard that it is more painful too.

Maybe I should head on over to the electrolysis board for some insight…

fuchsia


#8

My experience with electrolysis was extremely painful. I had to abandon treatments because of the excruciating pain and slow clearance. I interviewed a lot of electrolysists and tried three different ones, all had years of training and were totally legit. All of them understated the pain involved, and I have a fairly high pain threshold. They seemed to be very conserned that lasers were driving them out of business, and I can see why. My problem is lasers don’t work well with my hair color (yet). If you have dark hair, you should DEFINITELY try laser FIRST.


#9

fuchsia: I think you should try electrolysis for those underarms. I am a male who had all the underarm hair removed 3 years ago. I can tell you once it is gone it is gone. If you had to shave again,that would be a miracle. As far as pain is concerned, I found that is was something I got used to. The longer the session,the less it bothered me. It usually was only the first 15 minutes that was bad. Also if you just keep thinking of the goal to get hairless pits, the pain will seem worth it. Sometimes I would have 2 hour sessions and would almost notice no pain after the first 1/2 hour.


#10

I find the pain levels of laser and electrolysis to be about the same, especially when thermolysis is used. Of course I have been treated at high fluences (45J) with laser.

RJC2001


#11

Thanks all for your accounts - at least I can go in knowing to expect pain. I too am very stoic, having survived an excruciating root canal (yes, more than the board wanted to know…). So, it’s useful to hear you talk about how the pain was intolerable despite a high tolerance level.

During my test patch for laser, I did not find the pain to be terribly awful, but then again perhaps the technician used a low setting.

Lessened shadow under the arm from laser would be a nice benefit, as my hair is so dark and skin so fair that I always look slightly “unshaven” even though I’ve just ripped my skin apart shaving.

Perhaps I will try the laser first and then get electrolysis for any remainders…hmmm.

fuchsia


#12

Thanks all for your accounts - at least I can go in knowing to expect pain. I too am very stoic, having survived an excruciating root canal (yes, more than the board wanted to know…). So, it’s useful to hear you talk about how the pain was intolerable despite a high tolerance level.

During my test patch for laser, I did not find the pain to be terribly awful, but then again perhaps the technician used a low setting.

Lessened shadow under the arm from laser would be a nice benefit, as my hair is so dark and skin so fair that I always look slightly “unshaven” even though I’ve just ripped my skin apart shaving.

Perhaps I will try the laser first and then get electrolysis for any remainders…hmmm.

fuchsia


#13

Fuchsia, I had laser (Alexandrite) done and TouchSpa (the flashlamp) and I think the flashlamp hurt more than laser.
IMHO, electrolysis is a little bit more painful, but also more effective in the long run than laser, and if you had a root canal, laser is a walk in the park!
Laser does not hurt as much, especially if you take some painkiller before the procedure.

>Lessened shadow under the arm from laser would be a nice benefit, as my hair is so dark and skin so fair that I always look slightly “unshaven” even though I’ve just ripped my skin apart shaving.

Well, while I coudn’t finish my treatment and hence I am “hairy” again there (but not as much as before), one of the reasons while I do not regret as much to not have been able to get many laser sessions is that at least, with what I’ve got, my skin has lightened there, I don’t have the shadow and brown patches that I used to have when I had to epilate too often under my arms.

>Perhaps I will try the laser first and then get electrolysis for any remainders…hmmm.

That’s what I am trying to do when I get to collect enough money :smile: .