Many people desire smooth, hairless skin and prefer to permanently remove body hair in the privacy of their home. Traditional ways of removing hair at home, such as shaving, tweezing, waxing and chemical creams, are only temporary. Electrolysis, laser and pulsed light are the only ways to permanently remove body hair at home.
Electrolysis is the only FDA-approved permanent hair removal method. Electrolysis works by applying a thin metal probe into the root of the hair follicle and turning on a shortwave radio frequency to shock, burn and destroy the hair follicle and prevent re-growth. Electrolysis is a tedious method that requires probing of each hair follicle in a given area of the body. It also can take a long time to treat each hair follicle. Electrolysis is best for small areas such as the upper lip, eye brows and ears.
Electrolysis is painful and has health risks. Unsterile needles can infect the skin and blood. Electrolysis can burn the skin and cause scarring. It can also be difficult to see the tiny pores in the skin, increasing the risk for injury if the needle is inserted wrong.
Electrolysis is best done when someone else administers the procedure, especially in hard to see or reach places. Several types of electrolysis kits are available for home use, including a new galvanic technology that applies electric energy through the skin without use of a needle. This home method is fast, safe and effective for permanent hair removal, according to research published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal.
Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal methods can treat many hair follicles per application, making it superior for large areas of the body such as the back, chest, abdomen, legs, butt and bikini areas. The FDA has approved laser hair removal for stable, long-term or permanent hair reduction through selective targeting of melanin in hair follicles. Laser hair removal works best on people with dark hair and light skin because of the contrast in color between the two and because dark hair absorbs more energy. It is most effective when applied to hairs during their growth stage. Side effects include skin redness, swelling, blisters and scars. People should avoid sunlight exposure on the treated area for 24 hours after the procedure.
There are two types of laser hair removal methods available for home use, diode-laser and intense-pulsed-light.
Diode-laser hair removal delivers a precise wavelength of light to a specific area of the skin, causing the hair follicle to die, fall out and not grow back. Research published in Annals of Plastic Surgery demonstrates that diode-laser hair removal is a safe and well tolerated procedure with high patient satisfaction.
Intense pulsed light, or sometimes called photo-thermolysis, works by introducing heat into the hair follicle so it dies and another follicle does not grow back. According to research published in the Journal for Cosmetic Laser Therapy, home-use of an intense pulse light device provides significant, quantifiable and sustainable reduction in unwanted body and facial hair with minimal side effects.
- Food and Drug Administration: Removing Hair Safely
- "Aesthetic Surgery Journal"; Permanent Removal of Unwanted Hair; Pickens, J.E.; Sep-Oct 2004
- "Annals of Plastic Surgery"; Self-Reported Outcome after Diode Laser Hair Removal; Zins, J.E.; Mar 2008
- "Journal of Cosmetic Laser Therapy"; Hair Removal with Home-Use Intense Pulsed Light Device; Emerson, R.; Jun 2009
Jeffrey Traister is a writer and filmmaker. For more than 25 years, he has covered nutrition and medicine for health-care companies and publishers, also producing digital video for websites, DVDs and commercials. Trained in digital filmmaking at The New School, Traister also holds a Master of Science in human nutrition and medicine from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.