Can Laser Treatment Help PCOS Women Who Have Hirsutism?

Laser hair removal is newer than electrolysis. Lasers use a special light wave that is absorbed by dark hairs and damages the hair follicle. Laser therapies have not been in use long enough for hirsutism to fully determine how permanent the hair destruction is.

Laser treatment should not be used by dark-skinned women and is less effective with blond, red or white hair. Light-skinned women with dark hair get the best results.

Laser treatment is useful for large areas of hair.

Most types of laser hair removal are considered safe if performed properly. However, recent studies suggest other skin structures can be adversely affected by laser irradiation and no one yet knows what the long-term consequences are. Hair re-growth may occur in some women.

Laser Treatment Reduces Hair Problems in PCOS Women

Excessive facial and body hair growth is one of the characteristic features of polycystic ovary syndrome that can lead to high levels of depression and anxiety.

A recent study conducted at the Royal Free and University College Medical School in London, England, used laser therapy on 88 women with facial hirsutism due to PCOS. They were given five laser treatments over a six-month period.

The women were divided into two groups. One group received high-energy laser treatment while the other group received low-energy treatment. The study found that the women receiving high-energy laser treatments had the best results.

Severity of facial hair in the high-energy group fell from a rating of 7.3 to a rating of 3.6. In contrast, the low-energy group had a minor improvement from 7.1 to 6.1.

Time spent on hair removal declined from 112 to 21 minutes per week in the high-energy group and from 92 to 56 minutes in the low energy group,

Depression scores fell from 6.7 to 3.6 in the high-energy group, compared with 6.1 to 5.4 in the low-energy group. A similar change was seen for anxiety scores. Psychological quality of life also improved more in the high-energy group, from 49.6 to 61.2 vs. 50.1 to 51.5 in the low-energy group.

The researchers concluded that laser treatment reduced the severity of facial hair and time spent on hair removal as well as alleviating depression and anxiety in women with PCOS. These findings suggest that ways of making this method of hair removal more widely available to women with facial hirsutism should be considered.

The most appropriate laser treatment for you is a technical issue that requires a consultation with your dermatologist or personal physician.

Source: Clayton WJ et al, A randomized controlled trial of laser treatment among hirsute women with polycystic ovary syndrome, Br J Dermatol. 2005 May;152(5):986-92..

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