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A Closer Look: EpiLight IPL Treatments

By: Alicia Carmichael Park City Daily News

Jan. 20, 2003--When hair grew on Kim Hart’s face after she had a hysterectomy in 1999, she was devastated.

She knew increased amounts of the hormone testosterone was causing her problem and she hated the hair she hadn’t had before.

“People said they couldn’t see it,” she said.

But Hart, who is now 34, feared they could.

So she took action.

She tried the painful process of waxing, which made her skin break out.

Then Hart, who removes facial and body hair for others with hot wax at Essential Skin Restoration, tried an EpiLight treatment at her Chestnut Street office.

With her dark hair and medium complexion, Hart was a perfect candidate for the treatment, which nearly painlessly burns hair away with a quick, intense flash of light.

“It has to be the right kind of hair for this,” said EpiLight technician Stacy Wall at Essential Skin Restoration. “Lighter or red hair doesn’t respond as well. This machine looks for pigmentation.”

With one treatment, Hart could see results, and she felt only what she and Wall describe as like a “rubber band snap.”

Hart said there was “a shock factor” felt with the EpiLight.

“You jump,” she said. “But after that, it’s no big deal.”

Now Hart has no facial hair and she’s not self-conscious.

“It made me feel better,” she said.

EpiLight is administered on clients only after a free consultation with Wall, who will determine if a candidate needs to see a physician first.

Wall may recommend a client see a doctor if they have come to her with a sudden growth of facial hair. Facial hair can be a symptom of one of several illness.

“I have a lot of clients who have polycystic ovarian syndrome,” she said.

Wall sometimes will not administer EpiLight if a client’s skin is too dark. Because the light is attracted to pigment, it can easily burn very dark skin.

Sometimes, if she’s unsure whether a client is too dark for the procedure, Wall will ask them if they’d like to test a small area.

“I don’t want them to try the treatments and not get as good a result as someone with a different hair or skin type,” she said.

For those who are not good candidates for EpiLight, Wall sometimes suggests they try electrolysis, which can be painful because tiny electric jolts are sent into individual hairs with needles. Hair removal by electrolysis takes much longer than it does with EpiLight.

“In 10 minutes I can do a whole face” with EpiLight, Wall said.

With EpiLight, a beam of light is flashed onto the skin through a filter chosen by a technician according to the color of the client’s skin and hair. Several hairs can be zapped at one time and darker hairs need less-intense light to be melted with the EpiLight machine.

But EpiLight isn’t an instant success.

While it can cause a lot of hair to burn, follicle and all, and fall out permanently during the first treatment, the heat flashed at the skin will stay in the skin for seven to 10 days. Hair may fall out at any point during that time. Because additional growing hair may be under the surface of the skin, where the EpiLight’s beam can’t reach a pigment, follow-up EpiLight treatments may be needed.

“Generally, it takes an average of six to eight treatments because of the way hair grows,” Walls said.

But “I’ve had clients who have done electrolysis for years,” she added.

For facial hair removal, one EpiLight treatment is $50 to $100. If a client needs more than four treatments to remove unwanted hair, each additional treatment is half the cost of the first treatment.

Luminus, the company that makes the EpiLight machine, “will guarantee up to an 80 percent reduction” in unwanted hair forever, Wall said.

But some clients, particularly those with medical problems that cause unusually fast and abnormal hair growth, may need to update treatments from time to time.

Wall suggests that those who want to try EpiLight to not try to eliminate the hair themselves right before a visit to have hair removed.

Unseen hairs cannot be eliminated by EpiLight.

Wall said those with medical concerns about EpiLight can talk to Dr. Victor Atalla, a plastic surgeon who owns Essential Skin Restoration, which is part of The Plastic Surgery Center, during a visit.

“I will say that it is very important to have a physician here” in the building, Wall said. “He is aware and here when we do our treatments.”

It’s also important for those who have EpiLight treatments to moisturize the EpiLight-treated skin with aloe vera, Wall said.

Also, because EpiLight’s heat stays in the skin for several days, those who have the treatment are advised to stay out of the sun.

EpiLight treatments are available for the chin, upper lip, cheeks, legs, arms, underarms and back.

Wall sometimes uses EpiLight on the backs of men.

Because the treatments don’t take much time, many of Wall’s female clients “come in and do this on their lunch breaks and reapply their makeup and no one knows,” she said.

The procedure causes little redness.

But it can change the lives of people who feel self-conscious because of unwanted hair.

“I have had probably three or four younger girls who are students at Western who have problems with facial hair and are very self-conscious about it,” Wall said.

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