It’s a beauty problem facing many women: unwanted facial hair. Legendary beauties like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor both shaved their faces to remove ‘peach fuzz’ – a method few women would choose today.
The fact is that all women have facial hair. But how much is too much, and what is the best way to deal with it? Dr. Sachin Chitte, board-certified plastic surgeon and co-founder of The Ottawa Clinic, answers your questions:
Q: Is there a ‘normal’ amount of facial hair for women?
‘Normal’ can be somewhat subjective. I would say, though, that a small amount of soft, fine hair around the mouth, on the cheeks, forehead and sideburn area is considered quite normal.
Due to natural variation, some women have less facial hair, and it may be finer and lighter in colour. For darker haired women, the hair tends to be more visible and gives the illusion there is more of it.
Q: Is facial hair a sign that something is wrong?
For women, hair growth on the face isn’t inherently dangerous – and in most cases the reasons for it are benign. However, certain genetic and medical conditions are associated with excessive hair growth, and can result from changes in hormone levels which can then lead to male-pattern hair growth.
Q. What kind of medical conditions are you referring to?
Excessive hair growth can point to underlying medical problems such as hirsutism or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a health problem that can affect a woman’s hormone levels and ovulation. Hirsutism is a condition that is characterized by coarse, dark hair growth on the face and body. It’s always best to check with your doctor if you are concerned.
Q. What are some of the non-medical ways women can treat and remove facial hair?
Tweezing, waxing, shaving and depilatories (chemical foams) are options, but they require continual treatment because the hair will grow back within days or weeks. Chemicals can also cause skin irritation. Electrolysis is another option that involves the removal of hair using an electric current. This method uses a fine probe to treat each hair follicle individually, so the sessions take time.
Q: The Ottawa Clinic offers laser hair removal treatments. How do these treatments work?
Hair removal treatments are done using Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) technology. In simple terms, IPL uses concentrated light rays to damage hair follicles. Damaged follicles can’t produce hair, and the hair that remains falls out.
We use the Icon™ Aesthetic System, a state-of-the-art hair removal system. Sessions with Icon™ last between five to 30 minutes each. Following a session, hair thickness gradually decreases, and fewer hairs grow in the treated area.
Q: Is this system safe for the face?
Yes. The Icon™ device sends light energy to the target area to destroy the hair follicles without damaging the surrounding skin.
Q: Is laser hair removal a permanent solution?
Laser hair removal can provide permanent or near-permanent results. Since the light energy can only target hair when it is in its active phase of growth, I typically recommend an average of four to six treatments to achieve optimal results. In some cases, I may also prescribe a medication cream like VANIQA® which can be effective in reducing and slowing the growth of facial hair in women. The two treatments combined – laser hair removal and medicated cream – can be very effective for some patients.
Q. Finally, what do you want women dealing with excessive facial hair to know?
I’d want them to know that it’s more common than they may think. We are committed to providing our patients with the safest, most effective treatments available to enhance their self-confidence and beauty.
To learn more about laser hair removal, please contact us to schedule a consultation.