On season 1 episode 5 of TLC’s Bad Hair Day, Dr. Meena Singh sees patient Nellie who has been struggling with Hirsutism (HUR-soot-iz-um) for over 20 years. Hirsutism is a condition in women that results in excessive growth of dark or coarse hair in a male-like pattern – on the face, chest, and back. The extra hair growth often arises from excess male hormones (androgens), primarily testosterone. This condition is commonly found in women of African descent as they are more likely to be exposed to certain hormone disrupting chemicals, which then plays a role in the unwanted hair growth as there are higher concentrations of those chemicals in their bloodstream. The severity of Nellie’s facial hair has had a detrimental effect on her overall mental health and relationships with men.
The standard care for Hirsutism is laser hair removal. Since Nellie has very active hair growth, laser hair removal will reduce the number of hairs, but it may not be permanent. However, there is a topical medication (cream) that will decrease the rate of hair growth. Using the topical medication in conjunction with laser hair removal will yield a better result. Dr. Singh also recommends the use of Spironolactone (pill). Spironolactone doesn’t stop the hair growth, but it does block the testosterone receptor around the hair follicles which will decrease the stimulus for the hair to grow. Doing these three things in combination should result in the best outcome for Nellie.
Laser hair removal does have a higher risk of burning, blistering, or discoloration in people with darker skin because the laser targets pigment. When the laser is looking for pigment, it’s going to find it in the skin. If you use a laser with a deeper wavelength, it will get down into the hair bulb and ignore the surface skin.
Therefore, using a laser with a deeper wavelength allows for penetration deeper into the skin so it doesn’t burn the outside layer of the skin. Not every provider or practice has this particular laser. Fortunately, our laser at KMC Dermatology & MedSpa is precise enough to target the hair follicles and eliminate hair at the root without damaging the skin, no matter the skin type. Laser hair removal is performed by our medical aestheticians and two MedSpa Directors, Ryan Wesley (KCK, Leawood, Mission, Manhattan) and Jaya Challa (Topeka).
When you’re treating a person with laser hair removal, first you must shave the hair down since the laser is directed at pigment. If the hair is already out of the skin, then it’s going to get the top of the hair and won’t actually prevent it from growing back. Since laser hair removal targets the hair bulb itself, we try to laser the entire area that has unwanted hair growth. The laser will hit the hair in different phases of the hair cycle, so some hairs may be gone after just one procedure, but it may take several sessions to get rid of all the hairs. In order to eliminate any pain during laser hair removal, we make sure to make the skin as cool as possible. This is done by going over the skin with a roller that is cold. We will cool the skin down before we start, use the laser, and then roll the skin once more with the cold roller, also using ice packs to decrease the heat. Monthly treatments are recommended until the hair has been significantly reduced. Significant reduction will take anywhere between 6 to 9 sessions, and sometimes more. The ultimate goal is to have less hair every time where there is no need to shave in between sessions.
See Nellie’s final results by watching the full episode at TLC GO.
Ditch the razor for the laser with KMC Dermatology & MedSpa. We are the premier laser hair removal experts offering state-of-the-art laser hair removal with quality treatments and pristine results. Schedule your free consultation today to learn more!