Dermatology may be all about skin, but you’d be surprised how often hair is at the center of our patients’ concerns. Because hair is a modified type of skin—one that protects our flesh and covers most of our body in some capacity—it makes sense.
It’s both an opportunity and a pain that modern society has specific ideas about what kind of hair is acceptable. The idealized woman appears hairless except for a thick blow-dried mane, while men are constantly fighting the dread of baldness.
Because of this social conditioning, we all have ideas of how much hair we’d like, where we want more, and where we want it removed entirely. We’re here to tell you that it’s okay— natural, even—to want to tweak your hair situation one way or another. Even better, there are more methods than ever to give you the hair you want.
Whether you have too much hair or not enough, odds are your local dermatologist has a solution for you. Here are the most common services to address each.
Problem: Too Much Hair
Solution: Laser Hair Removal
Shaving is common routine for both men and women. That said, it has its limits–first and foremost the fact that hair grows back quickly. With professional laser hair removal, by contrast, you can kiss your disposable razor goodbye along with and all the knicks it comes with.
It works like this: intense beams of light are directed at hair follicles in specific areas, rendering them temporarily inactive. The process, called selective photothermolysis (SPTL), causes localized damage that destroys or injures follicles without heating the remaining skin. As a result, unwanted hair is unable to grow for an extended period of time. Depending on your skin pigmentation and the thickness of your hair, this may take a specialized light setting or consecutive treatments.
Laser hair removal had been practiced for 20 years experimentally before becoming commercially available in the mid-90s, and it is now a widely accepted, researched, and available service.
This service has big benefits over alternatives like shaving and waxing, longevity being just one. Because it blasts the follicle at its root, you won’t be left with stubble; you won’t have to endure the repeated pain of wax, or the inflammation associated with both.
Problem: Not Enough Hair
Solution: Various Treatments
A bald head is far from the worst thing in the world; indeed, there are many men (and woman!) who can pull it off beautifully. That said, many are uncomfortable without a full head of hair, or suffer from alopecia. For these patients, there are a variety of solutions available.
But before a dermatologist can treat baldness, they must investigate the situation. He or she will want to discover what the cause is through interrogation, an exam, and potentially a scalp biopsy or blood test.
In terms of treatment, there are two routes to take: medicinal and procedural. Some medicines are available over-the-counter, like Minoxidil, an FDA-approved treatment that stimulates hair follicles. Others require a prescription, like Finasteride, a pill that slows hair loss and stimulates re-growth in men.
In terms of procedures, your dermatologist's recommendation will depend on the extent of your hair loss. A hair transplant takes areas of your scalp with good hair and applies it to balding areas. Hair transplants can be performed with or without other procedures like scalp extensions, scalp reductions, and scalp flaps, all of which aim to reduce balding.
Here at Bobby Buka MD, another procedure we recommend for hair restoration is PHP (platelet rich plasma) Therapy. This takes your blood, separates it in a centrifuge, then injects the remaining plasma into your scalp, stimulating follicle growth.
All things considered, it’s encouraging that neither your genetics nor your skin disorder has to be your destiny. Options like there are available so that you can take control of your follicles to achieve exactly the skin-to-hair ratio you desire.