WHY DO MEN WANT HAIR REMOVAL?
Hair removal in men has a long history in Western culture. Removal of facial hair has long been the norm with only a minority of men choosing to have a beard. In today’s world it has become totally acceptable for men to have treatments such as laser hair removal in order to improve their appearance and increase their self-confidence. Terms such as ‘manscaping’ (man specific landscaping) have become common use.
The reasons men seek laser hair removal and the areas they want treated are usually quite different to that of women.In modern Western society whilst hairiness in women is often regarded as masculine, hairiness in men is seen more as being primitive and unkempt. Over time there has been a shift in the perception of body hair in men, as whilst having a hairy chest at one time was seen as a sign of masculinity, surveys now find more women prefer male chests to have minimal hair and look ‘silky and smooth’.
Athletes are a particular group of men in which laser hair removal is very popular. For certain athletes it is a practical decision such as in footballers and soccer players who get lower leg hair removal to allow taping of ankles to prevent injuries. In other athletes it can be to try and improve performance such as swimmers and triathletes who remove body hair to reduce drag in the water. Other athletes choose to remove hair for the aesthetic of looking better such as body builders and gymnasts.
There are some men who are advised to look at long term hair removal for medical reasons such as men who develop repeated ingrown hairs which can become infected and cause scarring notably in the beard area ( Pseudofolliculitis Barbae) and the lower back ( Pilonidal cysts).
WHAT AREAS DO MEN HAVE HAIR REMOVAL ON?
The commonest areas that men seek laser hair removal for are the back, shoulders and chest. In menbecause of the higher levels of male sex hormones (androgens) it is often a case of using lasers to control hair growth by long term and permanent reduction rather than permanent removal. The chest area in men seems to be particularly responsive to laser hair removal with most men getting great long term clearance.
BODY HAIR REMOVAL IN MEN
Body hair, particularly back hair in men, is often perceived in modern day Western society as being primitive and untidy looking and hence it is not surprising that laser hair removal of back hair in men has become a very frequently requested procedure.
The chest area in most men responds more effectively than back hair to laser hair removal. This may relate to the hair roots on the chest being more superficial and consequently more susceptible to laser hair removal.Typically there is a gradual and progressive thinning of chest hair with each laser hair removal session and many men are happy to just thin chest hair rather than try to totally remove all chest hair.
FACIAL HAIR REMOVAL IN MEN
Facial hair has become an increasingly popular area for laser hair removal in men. Localised treatments such as between the eyes to remove the ‘monobrow’, targeting unwanted nasal or ear hair, or to target hair high on the cheek above the normal shaving line are all very popular. Unwanted hair on the front of the neck between the beard line and chest hair is also a popular facial area for men to treat by laser hair removal.
Full face laser hair removal in men is popular in certain situations. In occupations that are unable to have facial hair, such as firefighters, laser hair removal of the full beard area as a long term alternative to daily shaving is a fairly common request. Men who develop chronic ingrown hairs in the beard area after shaving (called Pseudo Folliculitis Barbae) often are recommended to have laser hair removal, as this condition cannot only be quite painful and unsightly but can cause scarring. Men who are transsexuals or who are undergoing gender reassignment surgery typically also wish to remove male pattern hair on the face.
ARM HAIR REMOVAL IN MEN
The main area on the arms that men request for laser hair removal is the upper arm and shoulder region. This is often done in combination with laser hair removal on the upper back. Typically men request hair removal to the T-shirt line of the upper arm. In situations where the lower arm and forearms are quite hairy it is important, for the best aesthetic result, to blend the treated and untreated areas so that there is not a prominent demarcation line.
UNDERARM HAIR REMOVAL IN MEN
Underarm laser hair removal is not as frequently asked for by men but it is equally as effective in men as it is in women. One group of men who do ask for underarm laser hair removal are athletes especially triathletes and gymnasts.
LEG HAIR REMOVAL IN MEN
It is a common practice for manymale athletes to remove hair from the legs. Professional footballers and cyclists remove hair from their lower legs for practical reasons such as to allow for strapping of ankles to prevent injury, better treatment of injuries should they occur and to facilitate the regular massages they need. Professional swimmers commonly remove hair from their legs for performance reasons as it is thought to reduce drag from water. Bodybuilders remove visible hair from all exposed areas including the legs for aesthetic reasons to better highlight their muscular definition. Not surprisingly many athletes have quickly become converts to the longer term results offered by laser hair removal.
BUTTOCK AND GROINHAIR REMOVAL IN MEN
The buttocks in men are less commonly treated by laser hair removal than the back and chest but significant thinning can usually be achieved with only 2 or 3 treatments. One particular group of men where laser hair removal in the buttock region can provide fantastic results, are men who have had a Pilonidal cyst. This is a particularly painful condition of an ingrown hair almost always located near the tailbone at the top of the cleft in the buttocks. It occurs mainly in young Caucasian men (15-35 years) with thick dark hairs and the risk is higher if sit for prolonged periods of time like truck drivers. If the Pilonidal cyst becomes infected it can form an abscess or sinus and be extremely painful and require surgery. Pilonidal cysts tend to be recurrent which makes laser hair removal in this area a very worthwhile treatment option.
Athletes especially those involved in water sports such as swimming, water polo and triathletes look to laser hair removal in the groin area, as a more effective option than shaving, without the issue of rashes and ingrown hairs. Cyclists also can suffer from irritation in the groin area from hairs and ask for laser hair removal to this region. Some men request laser hair removal in the genital hair, and whilst this is safe and can be very effective, it is a much more sensitive area to treat by laser and can be uncomfortable.
CAN ALL HAIR COLOURS BE TREATED IN MEN?
It is important for men to realise that laser hair removal will not work well on removing hair if the hair has turned grey or white. Laser hair removal relies on the laser beam being attracted to the pigment in the hair for it to be effective. Grey hair has less pigment and white hair has no pigment. In time every ones hair turns grey because of age and genetics. As we age a failure occurs in the ability of pigment cells in the hair follicles to produce pigment. This failure occurs at different rates in different hair follicles and in some hairs will occur rapidly whilst in others it may occur over decades. The age at which the first grey hairs occur is largely genetic, and most men are likely to get their first grey hair at the same age as their parents or grandparents started to get grey hair. Some factors can increase the rate of greying such as smoking, thyroid disease, Vitamin B12 deficiency, Vitiligo and auto immune diseases. Typically most Caucasians start to go grey in their mid30s whilst Asians start to go grey in their late 30s. Half of men have a significant amount of grey hair by the time they turn 50. For laser hair removal to be most effective in men it is best to start before too many hairs turn grey.