Elena welcomes the confidence of smooth skin
For most preteens and teenagers, it goes without saying that puberty is a difficult time in life. There are the social pressures of trying to fit in with different circles. There are the family dynamics of becoming a young adult and learning your boundaries and discovering who you are as a person. And there are also the body changes. Hormone fluctuations, genetics and related issues can make a person feel insecure and awkward: acne, physical development, vocal changes and hair growth.
For Elena of Long Island, New York, adolescence marked the beginning of a long and difficult struggle in her life with unwanted and excessive hair growth. At school, her challenge was painfully obvious. Classmates cruelly called her names like "Elvis," making fun of her embarrassing sideburns. "After that, I started shaving," Elena confesses.
Suffering alone, her self-esteem plummeted
Elena's mother was busy, working hard to support the family as an RN; she didn't have much time to help Elena through her struggle. So as a teen with few choices, Elena resorted to combing her hair over her face and hiding her true self in shame. As so often happens with teens struggling for acceptance, she made some unhealthy choices in the quest to belong.
"I started feeling awful, and I actually started going with the wrong crowd because I had such low self esteem," Elena said. "Thank God it's over now. Everything is so different." The cause: a genetic condition called hirsutism.
Elena is far from alone in her struggle with unwanted hair. In fact, hirsutism, the technical name for excessive hair growth, is a common problem among both men and women. In some rare cases, excess hair growth may indicate a more serious health problem, but for many people, it is simply the benign result of heredity or hormonal changes. Elena says her excess hair growth is the result of her Puerto Rican heritage and genetics, which she saw firsthand when she visited relatives in Puerto Rico.
After years of struggle, Elena - at age 17 - finally began to explore electrolysis as a solution to her unwanted hair. A mentor recommended Arlene Batz, CPE, an experienced electrology practitioner and educator, and the treatments began with a few hours twice a week. "Arlene was like my second mother," said Elena. "She really lifted me up in many ways."
Electrolysis is the only FDA-approved permanent hair removal solution. Hairs are removed individually, and due to different growth cycles for hair, treatments take time. Elena's patience and willingness to continue treatments paid off, and over time, electrolysis worked for her. She said, "I was walking with my head held high."
Tried and true solution
After marriage and the birth of her children, Elena again struggled with excess hair. While the earlier hair was permanently removed, hormone fluctuations stimulated previously dormant hair follicles. "With my second child, even more grew, in places where I didn't have hair before, like my stomach, back and shoulders," she explained. "I was basically hiding from the world. I would comb my hair and my bangs to cover my face. That's how I used to walk around in high school too." This time, Elena knew just what to do.
Elena turned again to electrolysis and is now focusing on bringing an end to her troublesome facial hair. "I have this outlook in life that I just have to keep walking, no matter what. After electrolysis, I feel like I can conquer the world! To me, it's a blessing." she said. Over time, she plans to explore options for removing her unwanted body hair as well.
Elena is a single parent now, so her budget can be tight, but she believes electrolysis is worth the investment in herself. She sees Arlene at Breier Hair Removal & Skin Care in Queens regularly for her treatments. "It is important to take care of yourself, especially because we give so much as women, so I'm making electrolysis a priority for me."
People see the confidence
For Elena, electrolysis not only enables her to show her true outer beauty to the world, but also the inner beauty of her personality, which takes a back seat when her self confidence drops. "People can tell the difference when I have the treatments. I do tend to hold back a little bit and not get near people," Elena said, admitting that she often will stay home rather than show her face to the world. "But the day after I get electrolysis treatments, I tie my hair back and put on makeup, and I'm much more outgoing. People say, "Wow, Elena, what did you do differently? Your face is glowing!"
Elena highly recommends electrolysis for people like herself who struggle with unwanted hair. She points out that it's important to have patience. "It works - slowly but surely, it works. It's not all in one shot, but over time the hair keeps getting thinner and you can see the excess hair going away."
Elena said although the topic of unwanted hair can be a sensitive issue for many people, she feels she's been blessed and she wants to share the wisdom she's gained through her experience with electrolysis to help others. "I'm a strong believer," she said. "Taking care of yourself is such a good investment."