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A leading Chief of Dermatology called me one day to refer a patient. He stated,
Katie has a case of idiopathic hirsutism, due to increased ovarian androgen production. She has also developed acne vulgaris, pseudofolliculitis, and ingrown hairs as the side effects of temporary hair removal. Katie has seen an endocrinologist for the glandular problem that caused the hirsutism. Now she is ready to have the hairs removed permanently. Katie called in soon afterward and we booked a 30-minute consultation for the upcoming week.

Katie was very stubborn at the beginning. She just came in and announced, I’m only here because my doctor wants me to be here. What can you do for me? I explained what kind of skin and hair care routine she would have to follow, and examined her skin. The poor woman was a disaster. Katie had coarse dark and white hairs on her chin, upper lip, cheeks, back of the neck and breast. Her skin was sore, singed, tender and raw. She had a beard, folliculitis, acne and pigment problems. "I’m a dentist," she disclosed. I cover my face with a mask all the time at work. I clean kids’ teeth all day, and I don’t want them making fun of me. But I didn’t want to deal with the expense of electrolysis—didn’t believe in it. Finally, I went to my doctor, who recommended you."

She was not treating the hair properly. She had decided to treat the hair growth with a readily available one-touch electrolysis kit. Unfortunately, the only needle included with the kit is size large. Katie had hairs of all sizes, small, medium and large. As she tried to remove the unwanted hair, she couldn’t see exactly where the opening was in the skin. She kept poking around on her face, guessing whether she was in the right place or at the right depth in the follicle.
Then Katie would turn on the current until she couldn’t stand the pain. She was distorting the follicles and developing ingrown hairs, and scarring her skin at the same time. Katie also never wore sunscreen. The sun and pollution caused severe hyperpigmentation (dark spots) and acne. Not only that, but she had plucked every hair. She would grab both skin and hair with her tweezers, leaving her skin all spotted up.

I gave her strict instructions.
To get rid of this problem, you have to get rid of the magic hair-removing device right away. Also, no more plucking, waxing or picking at your skin. You can trim longer hairs with scissors, but only if you leave them long enough for electrolysis. Katie asked, "Will it clear up in two visits?" I replied, "More than that. Look, this is going to take me about a year or so." "A year?" "That’s right. It could take me up to six months just to take care of the pigmentation. I’m being honest with you, Katie". You can go to some other electrologist, who might promise to have you done in three months. In truth, the first 3-6 months are the worst. But if you do it right, you’ll have less hair re-growth and clear skin. After 6 months you will start to notice the improvement. It takes that long for all the hairs to come out. You’ll still get hairs, but they will be sparser. Your skin will be lighter and look better. You shouldn’t have any acne, because you’re not going to tweeze anymore. And I’m going to do the electrolysis, so you’ll have less ingrown hairs. We’re getting rid of this problem altogether."

Katie didn’t believe that it could happen. Three months into treatment, her condition was coming along. But she was sick of me and sick of electrolysis. Have you finally thrown away your kit? I asked her. "No, Katie said, I think I’m going to go back to using it." It became very emotional for both of us. I pleaded, Please don’t use it. You didn’t invest all this money the first three months to give up now. You’re almost at the halfway point. It gets easier after that. The electrolysis isn’t going to be as painful, because the hairs won’t be as coarse. It’s going to be wonderful. She started crying. Then I started crying. I said, "What is going on? Why are we getting like this? I’m going to help you. You’re going to be better." I still had to prove that I could get rid of her problems. If I was intimidated, then what kind of a professional would I be? I told her, "Absolutely. I’m going to clear this up."

Nine months into treatment, Katie’s skin and hair had improved considerably. She asked me to treat her sideburns after about ten or eleven months because she was happy that the rest of her face was done. Another six months from that point, we finished it all, removing a few more scraggly hairs on the sides of her face.
It took us about a year and a half to finish Katie completely. Now she can live the rest of her life with perfectly clear white skin, not all marked up or covered with acne. It was a big psychological boost for her. Katie’s not afraid to take her mask off and let people see her face now. She can feel confident about going out in public. I feel confident that I made a big impact on her life.


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