Semi-Permanent PCOS Hair Removal Is Tricky, But Not Impossible

Posted on in MedSpa by Zac

Everyone’s reasons for desiring laser hair removal are different. For some, the reasons are purely cosmetic. For others, the desire for hair removal comes from increased hair growth due to genetics, and sometimes even from medical issues. A common diagnosis tied to accelerated body hair growth is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS. For many women dealing with unwanted hair growth due to PCOS, laser hair removal may offer a solution. Studies have shown that most people who used laser treatments for PCOS hair removal were highly satisfied with the results. 

As a provider who wants to provide the best outcome for your patients, what do you need to know about PCOS hair removal?

What is PCOS?

PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects as many as five million adult women in the United States. Women with PCOS have high levels of androgens, or male sex hormones that the majority of women only possess in small quantities. Women who have PCOS may ovulate less often than the average woman, or sometimes not at all. People with PCOS also, as the name implies, generally (but not always!) have many small cysts on their ovaries. The underlying cause of PCOS is unclear, although it often runs in families, and it’s common for multiple female family members to share the disorder. 

While PCOS can impact everything from fertility to acne to weight gain, one of the most common and most frustrating side effects in many women with this syndrome is hirsutism, or excessive hair growth. Because of the elevated levels of androgens in people with PCOS, their hair tends to grow very coarse and dark. This growth is most commonly seen on the face, stomach, chest, and back—all areas where no woman wants excess hair. 

How Laser Treatments Help

Any woman who’s lived in the world is well too aware that there are lots of ways to try and remove excess hair. Take your pick: there’s tweezers, shaving, waxing, and epilators. However, because hair in women with PCOS tends to be dark, thick, and dense, hair that’s simply shaved off or plucked away often grows back looking like stubble. Luckily for women looking for long term hair removal options, there is a viable solution for PCOS hair removal on the face and body in laser treatments. 

Laser hair removal for PCOS has been proven to both reduce the amount of hair growth and to help thin the hair. While laser treatments don’t provide completely permanent hair removal, lasers are more permanent than any of the short-term solutions listed above. Plus, laser treatments provide selective hair damage, are less time-consuming, give users longer hair-free intervals than other solutions, and also have fewer side effects than other semi-permanent hair removal treatments.

A single laser treatment can reduce hair by 10%-40%, with repeated treatments able to reduce hair by as much as 90%, with results that could persist as long as a year, although laser hair removal can sometimes be more permanent. Laser hair treatment is also widely considered both less painful and much more cost-effective than using electrolysis (using direct electric current) for PCOS hair removal.

How Do Laser Treatments Work?

In PCOS hair removal, and all other types of hair removal, laser treatments work by the utilization of lasers to damage hair follicles while sparing the skin tissue. In the laser hair removal process, various laser parameters are used. These include power, spot size (or the size of the laser probe or head being used in the procedure), irradiation time, and repetition rate. These factors must all be considered in order to determine a successful outcome for patients. 

Equally important are tissue parameters such as absorption and scattering coefficients, density, heat capacity, and thermal conductivity. Additionally, hair and skin pigmentation can also be a factor in successful PCOS hair removal. Because laser hair removal targets dark, pigmented hair, the ideal subject for these treatments is someone with fairer skin and dark hair. Another reason women with PCOS might find solace in laser treatments: for most people with hirsutism, dark pigmented hair—the easiest type of hair to target with a laser—is the name of the game! 

What to Expect From Laser Hair Removal Treatments

PCOS is a hormonal issue, meaning that people with hirsutism have increased amounts of hair and have more hair growing than someone who does not have increased androgen levels. Because of this increased growth, PCOS hair removal may require more than the typical number of hair removal laser treatments, as well as more treatments for maintenance. Generally, this will require a minimum of 6 to 8 treatments before a clients’ symptoms of excess hair growth will begin to noticeably improve, although speed of treatment will of course vary from person to person. 

What Type of Laser is Best?

The best lasers for hair removal depend on your patient’s skin type and the area being treated. Some of the most popular lasers used for hair removal include the diode laser, Alexandrite laser, Nd:YAG laser, and the IPL (intense pulsed light) laser. Among these, the Nd:YAG is considered to be the gold standard, balancing effectiveness with a lowest risk of post-treatment blistering and changes in pigmentation. Diode lasers are another excellent choice for PCOS hair removal, too, as they also directly target the pigment of hair follicles and eradicate them down to the bulb. 

For a gentler treatment, IPL lasers are another option you may consider. As the name indicates, these devices emit pulses of light, which destroy the follicle while leaving surrounding skin tissue unharmed—causing hair to fall off. An IPL laser may be less effective for PCOS hair removal, but patients are also less likely to experience any post-treatment discomfort. 

Finally, alexandrite lasers could be an option, though they are a bit less effective for PCOS hair removal. That is because the alexandrite is most effective on fine and light hair rather than darker, more coarse hair, since the laser energy is so easily absorbed by the melanin pigment in hair. That being said, settings can be adjusted to target thicker, darker-pigmented hair, so if you want a system capable of addressing a range of hair types, the alexandrite may be a good choice.

Get the Perfect Lasers for Your Clients at Laser Resellers

For approximately 6-12% of women in the US, PCOS is a lifelong hormonal disorder with any number of frustrating or life-altering side effects, with one of the most visible and frustrating among them being hirsutism. Luckily, your business can offer relief to people with large concentrations of dense hair growth due to hormonal imbalance with laser hair removal treatments. And if your clients are trusting you to help them with something so personal, you should repay that trust by finding the perfect equipment for your practice. 

When sourcing the right equipment to provide long term solutions for excess hair growth, consider turning to Laser Resellers. We offer a wide variety of lasers to meet the unique needs of your clientele. Our devices are always serviced before they are shipped to you, ensuring that the equipment you purchase is in perfect working condition when it arrives, and we only advertise lasers that we actually have in stock and ready for you to purchase. And don’t worry—if your purchase isn’t perfect, we offer a 30-day warranty. 

Contact us today or check out our inventory to see how Laser Resellers can help you get the best technology for your business!