Facial Hair, Managing It During & After Pregnancy

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Facial Hair, Managing It During & After Pregnancy
July 26
11:45 2016

There are many causes of facial hair growth in women, including genetics and the medication that you are taking. For pregnant women though, excessive hair growth is mainly hormone-related.

“Most women will probably notice increased hair growth in the late first trimester,” said Dr. Julia Carroll of Compass Dermatology in Toronto. “When you are pregnant, you will notice it more around the abdomen and nipples. Post-pregnancy, it can occur more on the chin and sometimes, on the other areas of the face as well.”

Laser hair removal is one of the most popular esthetic solutions for reducing facial hair. According to Dr. Carroll, the ideal candidates who get the quickest results from the treatment are lighter skinned people with darker hair. Laser treatments can provide beneficial results to people with darker skin types as well, but these patients should make sure that their doctor has experience treating darker skin types with the appropriate technology.

The number of treatments necessary depends on the area being treated and the person’s skin and hair colour.

Though laser hair removal can provide you with long-lasting results, Dr. Carroll defines this treatment as a permanent hair reduction, which means you’ll have less facial hair than you used to prior to the treatment, but will need to repeat the procedure to maintain the results.

Facial Hair, Managing It During & After Pregnancy

Facial Hair, Managing It During & After Pregnancy

According to Dr. Carroll, risks associated with laser treatment may include scarring, blistering and pigment changes. This procedure requires substantial training and experience to perform.

“It’s very important that people understand,” Dr. Carroll emphasized. “I call it laser surgery, and it really should be managed and supervised, preferably by a dermatologist.”

Patients who may not be candidates for laser hair removal for a number of reasons, including their hair and skin colour, can receive long-lasting or even permanent results with electrolysis. While laser treatments target pigment in the hair, electrolysis aims at gradually destroying the hair follicle with a low-level electrical energy pulse emitted through a needle inserted into the skin.

Electrolysis is associated with some level of discomfort during the procedure, but is a low risk procedure if performed by an experienced doctor.  Common side effects may include temporary redness and soreness of the skin, but scars and pigmentation can also occur. Some people may also experience soreness during the treatment.

The prescription cream Vaniqua® is another viable option for decreasing the growth of facial hair. This treatment doesn’t give permanent results, but provides permanent maintenance, requiring regular application. It is generally used in combination with other facial hair removing techniques. Improvement is obtained gradually – usually, in one to two months of treatment.

“People do notice results with this,” Dr. Carroll explained. “I use it mostly in the facial area, lower face and neck for people that don’t want laser hair removal or for people that have had laser hair removal but they have ongoing hormonal issues. It  helps for maintenance.”

Facial Hair, Managing It During & After Pregnancy

Facial Hair, Managing It During & After Pregnancy

The side effects listed for Vaniqua® are “acne, folliculitis (hair bumps), stinging or burning of the skin, headache, dry skin, itching or tingling of the skin, redness or irritation of the skin, indigestion, rash, hair loss and dizziness.” If you are prone to allergies, Dr. Carroll suggests testing the product on the inside of your arm for five days to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction to the medication.

Hormone blockers may be prescribed in some post-pregnancy cases, especially for patients that have polycystic ovary syndrome, as this condition tends to provoke facial hair growth. Dr. Carroll also encourages those people to consult an endocrinologist and have their hormones evaluated.

Moreover, hormone blockers usually decrease the new hair growth, but generally don’t affect the amount of hair you already have on your face. As with any oral medication, there is a risk of allergy. Other potential side effects include dizziness, breast tenderness and some spotting between periods.

Though many women prefer plucking, shaving or waxing to seeing a dermatologist and using proper treatments, Dr. Carroll mentioned it may be quite traumatic to their skin, particularly, for women with darker skin types, because they start to get scabs and then, scars leftover from removing the hair.

“I think it’s important for women, when they start to get this problem, whether it’s during pregnancy or after, that they establish a good routine and try to do as limited amount of damage as they can to their skin, and if they start to notice they are getting marks or scars left behind, then they should seek help so that we can address this.”

Though plucking, shaving and waxing are not ideal, these are the only relatively safe ways for pregnant patients to get rid of their facial hair. As regular treatments have never been tested on pregnant women, there is no guarantee that they are completely safe to the fetus, so it may be wise to wait this problem out.

While very often facial hair disappears shortly after delivery, many women are looking for a proper solution months after they deliver.

“There’s still hormone fluctuation after pregnancy,” Dr. Carroll explained. “It can go up and down while you are pregnant and it can go up and down after you deliver and are breast feeding.”

Dr. Carroll recommends seeing a dermatologist if facial hair is still bothering you one year after the pregnancy. A specialist will be able to determine a course of treatment that best suits your needs.

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