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from the Fall 2007 issue

Permanent hair reduction is one of the more popular cosmetic procedures at The Center for Cosmetic Dermatology. The procedures are easily tolerated and effective. Here, Maria Antesoda and Marcela Ramirez, both registered nurses, answer questions and talk about recent advances in the permanent hair reduction field and the services offered at The Center.

Q. Permanent hair reduction was one of the original services offered when your cosmetic practice opened in 1997. Tell me what’s going on in permanent hair reduction today?

Marcela: In the permanent hair reduction arena, treatments take less time, are less painful and are safer today than when we started. We use the Palomar StarLux system and the Cutera® CoolGlide Vantage laser. We didn’t just randomly select either one. Several months before purchasing each of these technologies, we brought in five or six different types of hair removal machines. We worked with each of the different companies, trying the equipment out and evaluating each machine’s benefits. We questioned the consultants, and we went to seminars. After careful deliberation, we decided on the Cutera and then on the Palomar.

Q. What is unique about the Cutera and Palomar and what are their benefits?

Maria: The Cutera is a versatile laser. As a hair-removal system, it offers permanent hair reduction. Because of its longer wavelength, it is particularly suited for patients with darker skin types.

Marcela: It’s a nice complement to the Palomar, which uses intense pulsed light (IPL) for hair removal and is particularly effective on clients with lighter skin and darker hair. It is also less painful and faster then other IPL machines that are available.

Q. Does the Cutera work on all skin types?

Marcela: Yes, it can be used on all skin types. However because it is an Nd:YAG laser rather than an IPL device, the Cutera is ideal for individuals with darker or tanned skin. The long-pulse Nd:YAG laser beam bypasses the melanin layer and goes directly to the hair follicle. We have used it successfully on our African American, Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern patients and our tanned patients. The risk of superficial burns is greatly lessened, virtually eliminated. Before Cutera, there was a significant risk of burning for darker patients so we would opt not to do the treatment at all.

Q. Where can the Cutera and Palomar be used?

Marcela: Both the Cutera and the Palomar can be used anywhere on the body where there is hair, except around the eyes. We treat legs, bikini area, underarms, stomach, back, chest, arms and face. For women, the bikini, underarm and face are the most frequently-treated areas. Because the Palomar is fast and procedure time has been reduced, more of our female patients are getting their legs treated. They love the convenience of not having to shave and of having smooth legs every day. For men, the back, neck and beard are the most common treatment sites.

Q. What percentage of your patients are men?

Maria: Most of our patients are women, about 80 percent. But more and more men are realizing the benefits of permanent hair reduction. With men, ingrown hairs and infected follicles can produce unsightly bumps and blemishes — particularly on the neck. Using the Cutera or Palomar, these blemishes are pretty much eliminated.

Marcela: And with the Cutera for darker skin, African American men and women can be treated very successfully. African-Americans, men in particular, often suffer with razor rash, and these treatments can eliminate many of the problems related to shaving.

Q. Many places — spas and beauty salons — advertise hair removal treatments. Are these the same treatments you offer here at The Center?

Maria: It’s hard to guess what other establishments might offer in the way of hair reduction, but as RNs with years of experience, Marcela and I both know how to administer these treatments to achieve the best results for our patients. Hair removal is not a guessing game. I have heard stories of technicians reading guidelines and guessing about the level of intensity — that’s not how we operate. Hair removal requires precise calculation. The procedure is important and must be performed safely. It should not be treated lightly as simply a beauty decision. We are both licensed and certified on our hair removal equipment.

Marcela: And, because we are medical professionals — and supported by Dr. Bruce and her team of dermatologists — we know the importance of continuing education and investigation. We both spend time throughout the year at seminars and conferences to keep up with the latest techniques and settings. Dr. Bruce herself is intent on knowing the very latest applications and having the most effective technology.

Q. As registered nurses, both of you are professionals in the medical field. How long have you been with The Center for Cosmetic Dermatology?

Maria: I have been here since 2000. Before joining The Center, I worked for a spa that offered laser hair removal. I have ten years of experience in the field. In fact, I worked with the first FDA-approved hair removal laser.

Marcela: I also started with Dr. Bruce’s practice in 2000 after graduating from Texas A & M with a bachelor of science in health. I received my bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) from the University of Texas Health Science Center in 2003 and have been seeing my own patients ever since.

Maria: We both work closely with the doctors here, offering cosmetic procedures, including permanent hair reduction, for men and women.

Q. Have you been able to help individuals who suffer with too much hair?

Maria: Yes, in most instances, the changes are outstanding. We have women who have come in with excessive facial hair. They are shy and withdrawn because of their appearance. Yet, with just a few treatments, the difference is remarkable and the results life-changing. It is such a joy to have them look at me straight on, not worrying about having too much hair on their faces. We can point to many success stories.

Marcela: One of the things that I hear over and over again from patients is how this treatment has saved them time and money because they do not have to go and get waxed each month for the rest of their lives. Many patients think that waxing is also more painful than the machine treatments.

Q. Is permanent hair reduction a long process?

Marcela: The recommended, most effective method for permanent hair reduction is a series of at least four treatments, each spaced at least six weeks apart. Some salons or spas tell their clients to come in sooner, but that’s really a waste of money. Spacing treatments closer than six weeks doesn’t allow enough time for the hair to grow.

Maria: The treatment is simple, lasting from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the area treated. We generally recommend that an individual use an anesthetic cream, which can be applied at home before the patient arrives or we can do it here in our office. During treatment, the Cutera laser or the Palomar IPL wand is skimmed over the surface of the skin, which has been coated with a gel. There is a sensation, more intense with the Cutera, depending on the area. After the first treatment, hair reduction begins in about seven to 21 days. For three weeks after that, there is no hair growth. Basically, the first treatment results in about a 10-15 percent reduction, which some people say they can see and others cannot.

Marcela: The second treatment is six to eight weeks after the first one and the third, six to eight weeks after that. The change after the third treatment is often dramatic, but that, of course, depends on the patient as well.

Maria: The permanent hair reduction treatments are definitely effective. Our many satisfied patients refer their family and friends. We also get many referrals from other doctors.