Q: What is the best way to permanently remove the facial hair above my lips? I am a senior woman who has shaved for years; however, it would be wonderful to safely and permanently fix this problem.
—M.M., Huntsville, Ala.
A: Unwanted facial hair in women is a difficult condition to treat. If there’s a treatable cause for the problem (birth control medication, polycystic ovarian syndrome, use of Minoxidil or having Cushing syndrome of the adrenal glands), we can control the unwanted hair growth. Unfortunately, most cases of facial hair in women are seen in otherwise healthy women without cause. If you’re post-menopausal, ovarian problems cannot be the cause. If other women in your family have had unwanted facial hair, the problem may be rooted in your genes.
I wish I could offer you a permanent solution, but the best options I know are laser hair removal and electrolysis. They’re not cheap, nor are they covered by insurance. But they’re much more effective than shaving, bleaching and Nair facial hair products. Vaniqa cream is a prescription cream that stops facial hair growth with fair results. It does not remove hair, but after two months of use, you might see less facial hair.
Q: I recently developed a hernia in my right groin for which I’m going to have outpatient surgery in two weeks. It seems like, after talking to two of my friends who have also had hernia surgery, that hernias occur much more often on the right side than the left. Is that really so, or is it just a coincidence?
—P.L., Cherry Hill, N.J.
A: About two-thirds of the inguinal (groin) hernias doctors see are indeed on the right side. Men are 25 times more likely to have a groin hernia than women. Men’s testicles descend from the abdomen through the inguinal canal in the groin into the scrotum. A defect in closure of the inguinal canal during development in the womb predisposes a male to develop an inguinal hernia. Another factor is genetic susceptibility: Researchers theorize that a congenital deficiency of collagen fiber results in weakened connective tissue that cannot stand the stresses of normal activity.
There are those who lift and strain daily and never develop a hernia, and those who develop a hernia after a brief coughing spell.
With that said, why do inguinal hernia occur more on the right side? When the testicles descend into the scrotum, the left testicle typically descends first.
When there’s a delayed descent of the right testicle, there is delayed closure of the inguinal canal and a greater risk of an eventual right inguinal hernia.