For some, laser hair removal is an easy process. While the number of sessions needed to become completely hair-free varies depending on the treatment area, skin tone, and hair thickness, it's not always straightforward. This especially rings true for people with PCOS.
Polycystic ovary syndrome affects as many as five million women of reproductive age in the US. It's a hormonal disorder that impacts fertility, and side effects can include irregular periods, acne, obesity, and excessive hair growth. The latter is due to increased levels of male hormones, and it typically grows coarse and dark. Often, it'll pop up on the face, chest, and back.
There are many ways to remove hair, such as tweezers, shaving, and epilators, but one of the most effective ways to remove hair for good is by getting laser hair removal. However, Dr. Shereene Idriss, a board-certified dermatologist at Idriss Dermatology in Manhattan, says PCOS-fueled hair growth can only be reversed if the underlying cause of the hormonal imbalance is treated. While treatment is diagnosed and in process, though, there are ways to tackle the excess hair growth.
"Laser hair removal works best in getting rid of hair," says Christian Karavolas, founder of Manhattan's Romeo & Juliette Laser Hair Removal. "PCOS makes the hair very dense, particularly around the chin and neck. So, using the right lasers with the right settings is important so that the hair can be permanently removed without hurting the skin."
Karavolas adds that once there's a proper diagnosis from your OBGYN, treatment in combination with laser hair removal can reverse, stabilize, and control excess growth.
Quick solutions such as shaving, tweezing, and waxing can help reduce the appearance of excess hair growth in the short term, but since PCOS-fueled hair is typically dark and thick, it often grows back looking like stubble. That's why more permanent solutions, such as electrolysis or laser, are the way to go for long-term solutions.
However, Dr. Idriss notes that people with PCOS will require more sessions than the average person as they have increased numbers of hair and have more hair growing at the same time. "It doesn't mean that the laser hair removal is not working, it just means that unfortunately, they're going to need a little bit more to get them to the finish line of their liking," she adds.