Shaving, waxing, blasting it with a laser…there’s no shortage of ways to get rid of unwanted armpit hair. And now there’s a new option to add to the list: Microwaving.
(Yup, you read that right.)
The FDA has just cleared miraDry for the removal and permanent reduction of armpit hair. The product, which uses “precisely controlled microwave energy” to remove hair, has been used for years to treat excessive armpit sweat. It will be marketed under the name “miraSmooth” and hits doctors’ offices this month.
For the treatment, doctors use a machine that kind of looks like a grocery store scan gun and essentially run it back and forth across your armpits. The procedure uses local anesthesia to minimize pain, and it takes about 40 minutes, according to the miraDry website. People are usually able to return to work right away and can start exercising again within a few days.
“All patients will experience soreness under their arms for a few days after the procedure,” the site reads, adding that some people have “temporary, short-term altered sensation” in their armpits or upper arms, but it gradually disappears.
MiraSmooth is reportedly different from lasers in that it can be used on hair of all colors, regardless of a person’s skin tone (lasers typically work best on people with light skin and dark hair).
Board-certified dermatologist Ava Shamban, M.D., has used miraDry in her Santa Monica, Calif., office for underarm sweat and says her team already noticed there was a “permanent reduction of hair” along with it.
Shamban says the treatment is safe and points out that she’s “used it successfully” for several years.
But women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, M.D., is a little wary.
“The use of microwave technology has been established for sweating, and the safety and efficiency has been well-established,” she says. “But despite the FDA approval, there's not much long-term information and data on safety and efficacy for hair removal.”
Wider says she doesn’t advise patients to undergo the treatment because she hasn’t seen the long-term effects.
How well the procedure is performed depends on the doctor, says Wider, so you want to make sure you find someone who is experienced and competent at using it.
Something else to keep in mind, per Wider: Microwaves can heat the water and fat in the area, so you can experience redness, swelling, and even burns in your armpits.
If armpit hair is a serious issue for you (and you want to zap sweaty pits in the process), it might be worth looking into this procedure. But if you just want smooth pits…maybe it’s best to stick with your razor.