Women shave, wax and tweeze to maintain satiny-smooth skin, but the same stubborn problem always resurfaces: unwanted hair.
For some-particularly those who struggle with excess facial fuzz-laser hair removal can be a life-changing experience. "There is a small group of women who come in and say, 'You have changed my whole life,' " said Dr. Kristen Kenney of Premier Aesthetic and Laser Centre in Delaware.
The method destroys individual hair follicles, providing permanent results after a series of sessions under gently pulsing lights.
"The convenience of not having the hair far outweighs the little bit of sting that you might feel," said 44-year-old Amy Goebel of Dublin, who is a patient at Westerville Dermatology's Aderma Skin Care Center. "My goal is to never have to buy a razor again."
Though convenience is a major selling point, many women who choose this cosmetic treatment discover that eliminating excess hair also boosts their self confidence. As women age, hair often emerges in new and unexpected places.
Birth control pills, pregnancy, menopause and other hormonal changes can trigger the growth of new hair, particularly on the face, chin and upper lip. Medications and genetics also are to blame. More women seek to remove hair from their face than any other area of the body, said Dr. Nina Deep, who routinely performs laser hair removal treatments at her Westerville practice, Nina Deep Aesthetics.
"Sometimes women come in and they're mortified because they've got a full beard, essentially, and they don't realize they're not alone," Deep said. "I really think it's empowering for women to get rid of embarrassing hair. For some women, they've never let their kids touch their faces." Deep and other doctors aren't easily fazed when it comes to hair-removal requests. Kenney said there isn't an area on the body that she hasn't treated with lasers, from belly buttons to toes.
For women, the chin, upper lip, bikini line and underarms are the most popular areas. About 10 percent of Kenney's clients are men, who usually want to de-fuzz their back, eyebrows or ears.
Lasers are safely used on all skin tones and types, but experts say the treatment is most effective on patients with dark, coarse hair and light skin. The process requires patience-it typically takes several laser sessions to completely kill all of the hair follicles.
Treatments are generally spaced four to six weeks apart to give dormant hair time to surface. And touch-ups are necessary. Even though laser hair removal is considered a permanent treatment that lasts for years, there's always a chance that a small section of hair will be missed or that new hair will grow over time.
"There is some maintenance involved," Deep said. "I tell my patients, 'Just plan to see me once a year. Every time you get (the treatment), even less will come back.' "