Younger patients opting for laser hair removal

Posted by Nick Dutton -

NEW YORK (CBS) - Girls in their early teens are no longer rare clients for laser hair removal. "If you see a young person who has issues, especially if it's on a girls face, it's really distressing to them, it's socially devastating to go through school with hair on their mustache area, hair on their cheeks hair on their back," explains Dr. Susan Tanne, who specializes in laser and aesthetic medicine.

Taylor Clarkson, 14, faced those same challenges. "I do a lot of sports and the athletic wear that I wear exposes a lot of my back and I felt a lot of discomfort having a hairy lower back. So I decided to get it completely dealt with at once, so I decided to go to laser hair removal."

Taylor said it was an easy decision for her and her mother to seek out this treatment.

"I don't think it was that far that it was self esteem. I think it was embarrassing and it caused a little too much focus on herself when people would notice it. It's one less thing for a teenager to have to deal with," said Jayde Steckowych, Taylor's mother.

Dr. Ramon Solhkah, director of the Child And Family Institute at St Luke's Hospital, said as long as parents are sure that this is not masking another issue, procedures like this are safe and acceptable for young teens. "So much of our day to day existence is related to our appearance starting from how we comb our hair to makeup. So we're already beginning to think of our appearance at a very early age it does have impact on our self esteem and who we are."

Rebecca Urtnowski is 18, and it was a simple convenience of not having to shave that convinced her to seek out laser hair removal. "I feel as a teenager I'm always going to the beach, going to the pool, always going out and it's one less thing to worry about doing in the morning." She started laser treatments at age 17.

"It's not about a fixed age, it's about having the appropriate amount of hair and having the maturity to go thru a treatment and be comfortable. I will not give treatment to someone whose parents have brought them in here even though they have the best intention when that person is not ready for it," Dr. Tanne said. She uses puberty as a benchmark for age and having an established pattern of hair growth in young patients.

Results are not immediate. It usually takes between six and eight treatments spaced four to six weeks apart to get rid of unwanted hair. The cost varies as well, but the national average is about $430.

CBS News contributed this report.