Nov. 6, 2008 -- Ever since hemlines started creeping up in the early 1900s, women have been searching for the best way to get rid of the hair on their legs.
Today, waxing, shaving and doctor's office laser treatments represent a $10 billion industry. Last year,1.4 million laser hair-removal procedures were performed by doctors and trained professionals.
But now the FDA has approved at-home, do-it-yourself laser treatments for almost permanent hair removal. "GMA" technology correspondent Becky Worley put her own leg hair at hazard and tried out two of the products: the Silk'n and the Tria.
According to her experience, the Silk'n system, which uses a band of light to targets the hair, worked very well and the Tria, which utilizes a true laser, also showed some success.
"The idea of using a laser at home is a little scary," Worley said. "But the convenience and cost savings compelled me to give it a try. And oh yeah, the promise of never shaving my legs again? Bring on the lasers."
Perhaps even more than time, Worley saved big bucks.
Experimenting With the Laser
Introduced in the mid-1990s, laser treatment promised permanent hair removal, but at a steep price.
According to dermatologist Dr. Doris Day, a doctor's office treatment can cost anywhere from $100 to $150 per visit, meaning up to $3,000 for comprehensive treatment, depending on the surface area.
Performed by a doctor or a trained esthetician, high-intensity light is directed at the skin to destroy the hair follicle.
But the FDA has now made doctor visits optional by approving two at-home products. Both the Silk'n and the Tria cost less than $1,000 and promise safe and permanent hair removal.
According to Day, the lasers work best on people with light skin and dark hair and are not approved for use on the face.
"The FDA approved it's safe," she said, "but I believe it should be done with medical assistance. The risks of any device are burning, redness, even scarring if done inappropriately."
Worley braved the potential hazards and to conduct her experiment, she used each laser every two to three weeks, blasting the left leg with Silk'n and the right with the Tria.
"They do sting a bit," Worley said, "and leave some redness. The day after using the Silk'n, I had what looked like a road rash. It was really light. It went away within the week and didn't scar. The Tria hurt less than the Silk'n, but it covers a smaller surface so doing my lower leg took about 40 minutes. The Silk'n only took about 15 minutes."
After months of usage, Worley appeared on "Good Morning America" to report her findings first hand.
"If I had to qualify the differences in hair growth for me, I'd say that after two weeks of not shaving either leg I have 70 percent less hair on the Silk'n leg and about 30 percent less hair on the Tria leg," she said. "I haven't counted the hairs, but I have twice as much hair on the Tria side as I do on the Silk'n side."
Worley reported even better results in the bikini area.
Day said that she thought the Silk'n and the Tria were about "equally effective" and that there's no scientific data that compares them.
"The companies say after five treatments you have a 50 to 70 percent reduction in hair growth," Day said. "I expect 70 to 100 percent from office devices."
When used according to provided directions, physician-preferred and directed Silk'n offers a safe, fast and effective way to achieve excellent hair-removal results at home.
Most users report a minimal sensation of heat, however Silk'n is designed with 5 energy settings. Successful hair reduction can be achieved without needing to use the highest energy setting.
As with shaving, waxing or any hair-removal system, Silk'n users should be careful not to overlap pulses of the device on their skin to reduce any potential discomfort.
The ultimate test of these devices is how long the results last. Devices that use low powered pulsed light like Silk'N, not laser light like TRIA, and have been shown to deliver great short term results. But the hair ultimately grows back. What distinguishes TRIA is its laser technology and its ability to provide long-term hair removal. That's because TRIA uses the same laser technology preferred by most dermatologists and plastic surgeons to provide long-term hair removal. TRIA's laser safely and comfortably delivers four times more energy than the Silk 'N. It's this higher power that is essential to delivering superior long-term results.
We're pleased to hear that Becky, like most consumers, found TRIA less painful, more cost-effective and more convenient. We're confident that when she completes the full treatment cycle, TRIA will deliver superior long term results.