Unwanted hair growth is a common aesthetic problem, but when it becomes an abnormal symptom of an underlying condition like Hirsutism, traditional techniques like waxing, shaving, and plucking only serve as temporary solutions.
So does laser hair removal work for Hirsutism? Yes, laser hair removal is a viable treatment option for hirsutism patients, on top of PCOS medications and anti-androgens. In this article, we discuss how exactly laser hair removal can help with Hirsutism, and why it might be a better option compared to medical treatments.
Hirsutism is one of the most distressing symptoms of underlying medical conditions, causing severe anxiety and self-consciousness particularly in women.
Hirsutism is a condition characterized by excessive hair growth in areas of the body that either normally grow fine and sparse hair or don’t grow hair at all. This can occur in both men and women, who each have specific patterns of hair growth according to their hormones.
Hirsute female patients would grow a male type pattern of hair, which means thick facial hair, chest hair, back hair, and inner thighs. Male Hirsute patients also grow hair in these areas, but they are darker, thicker, and coarser almost to the point of extreme body oil production and hygiene problems.
The first cause of Hirsutism is either an abnormal production of androgens or abnormal stimulation of the hair follicles. Androgens are the hormones responsible for the development of male reproductive characteristics, the most common one being testosterone. This would explain women diagnosed with Hirsutism growing beards and mustaches, or getting deeper voices than their female peers.
Another cause is the intake of certain medications like estrogen, opium, and steroids. Some steroids are prescribed by doctors to treat hormonal issues like delayed menstrual cycles in women, but there have been recorded cases of Hirsutism as a side effect of the hormone-inducing compound.
Other drugs that can cause Hirsutism include the following:
The third cause of Hirsutism is likely to be any underlying medical condition that relies on androgen-stimulating medications.
Among the most common are PCOS, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, compromised thyroid, and anorexia:
Rare cases of abnormal hair growth between eyes or on the forehead is called hypertrichosis, and can be caused by any of the medical conditions mentioned above.
There are still some rare cases of Hirsutism that up to now have no identifiable causes linked to them. Hormones are always tricky, but they’re not unsolvable.
Treatment for Hirsutism is not absolutely necessary if doctors find that it isn’t linked to severe conditions like endocrine malfunction or ovarian cysts. More often than not, treatment of the underlying medical conditions can also indirectly affect and inhibit the growth of hair, but there are other remedies that target hair growth specifically, with laser hair removal being one of them.
Hirsutism medications usually take up to six months, which is the average life cycle of a hair follicle, before you can see any significant change. These include anti-androgens and oral contraceptives for androgen-caused Hirsutism; and Eflornithine (Vaniqa) cream for women with facial hair.
2) Proper diet
Hirsutism in women has been associated with excess insulin in the bloodstream, leading to a spike in circulating androgen and insulin-like growth factor. Switching to foods like non-starchy vegetables, legumes, antioxidant foods, and fruit are good remedies to insulin imbalance. Avoiding fatty sugary foods can also help regulate the production of hormones, specifically androgens.
3) Vitamin e and B6 Supplements
Yes, supplements can go a long way in tempering abnormal hair growth, especially given that it’s a hormone-induced condition. Vitamin E in particular normalizes the production of androgen in the body, while Vitamin B6 reduces prolactin, a hormone that stimulates testosterone.
Some of the richest sources of these vitamins are fish, avocados, organ meats, soybeans, walnuts, peanuts, bananas, sunflower seeds, safflower oil, peanut butter, corn oil, wheat germ oil, and broccoli.
4) Laser Hair Removal
If all else fails, cosmetic treatment is the way to go. Laser Hair Removal uses pulsed light to target hair at the follicles and significantly reduce hair regrowth by 90%. With laser hair removal, Hirsutism patients can easily manage overgrown hair without consistent upkeep. With regular use, laser hair removal may also diminish hair regrowth over time.
Laser hair removal is the perfect resort for Hirsute patients who aren’t fully satisfied with the results of medical therapy. This is especially true for cases that aren’t particularly caused conditions that cause hormone imbalance, or cases that have no identified causes at all.
It’s one thing to know that your prescribed medication can help lessen excessive hair growth, and another thing when the cause is unclear and therefore difficult to target. Luckily, laser hair removal doesn’t need to know the cause to get its work done.
The technology used in hair removal by lasers is based on the principle of selective photothermolysis, a very precise microsurgery technique that matches specific wavelengths of light to damage the hair follicles. The “selective” part here means that it cannot affect the epidermis, or the outermost layer of the skin.
During treatment, melanin (the pigment in the hair) absorbs the light emitted from the lasers, and converts that light energy into heat, effectively damaging the hair follicles and inhibiting hair growth.
For this to work and yield the best results, the following reminders are advised:
1) Take precautions
The cardinal rule to any cosmetic procedure is to consult with a certified clinician first. Whether or not you are a Hirsute with an underlying medical condition, it’s important to make sure that you are eligible for laser hair removal before undergoing it. Certain skin conditions, medical prescriptions, and medical histories can give you higher health risks than potential benefits, so taking the effort to confirm will save you time and worry.
2) Consider the skin type and hair type
Your skin and hair type will come into play because not all lasers work on all skins. Melanin, the pigment responsible for your hair color, is also what absorbs the light energy from laser therapy. This means that darker hair, or hair with more melanin are less prone to burning than red and blonde hair is. This also explains why there are different lasers and different treatment schedules for each patient. Generally, people with hair darker than their skin tone require less treatment time because the laser can easily detect the hair follicles to target.
3) Know when to book an appointment
Your laser hair removal treatment is best scheduled when your hair is in its active growth cycle, or the anagen phase. At any given time, almost 10%–15% of your hair may be in the catagen or telogen stage, which is why sessions are often scheduled 4-6 weeks apart to allow all follicles to grow and restart the cycle.
One of the main selling points of laser hair removal, with or without Hirsutism is the little to no risk of irritation or skin damage from shaving, and little discomfort from stubble growth.
For Hirsute patients particularly, the promise of 80-90% of their hair losing regrowth ability may exactly be the result they need for easier maintenance and higher self-confidence.
Listed below are other treatment methods and how they compare to laser hair removal:
|Effect on Hair:||Longevity of Results:||Risks|
|Shaving||Only targets the surface level of hair, causes rougher regrowth of hair||2-3 days, depending on genes||Razor burns, causes bumps and ingrown hairs|
|Waxing||Weakens the hair follicle, causing finer hair regrowth||4-6 weeks, depending on frequency of treatment||Painful Burns the skin, causes irritation|
|Plucking||Removes Hair from the roots just underneath the skin||3-5 weeks, depending on frequency||Painful and time-consuming, Causes ingrown hairs, Hyperpigmentation|
|Hair Removal Cream||Dissolves body hair||5-7 days, depending on amount of cream used and treated area||First to second degree chemical burns, skin irritation, skin darkening, allergic reaction|
|Laser Hair Removal||Damages hair follicles and inhibits hair growth||About 80-90% of the hair never grow back||Redness and irritation|
The price of laser hair removal varies widely on the type of laser used, skin type, and medical well-being of a patient.
Patients with light hair and light skin or dark hair and dark skin will usually need a more elaborate and longer treatment plan due to the increased difficulty in detecting hair and hair follicles. Because the lasers need to be able to “see” the hair and selectively burn its roots, the most ideal candidates that need the least number of sessions are the fair to olive-skinned ones with darker hair.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, one session of laser removal can fall anywhere between $250 to $600, depending on the size of the area being treated.
Collecting the estimates from this study will produce this list of price ranges per session:
On average, most treatments are finished within 3-6 sessions, but patients with Hirsutism usually require more, especially when targeting larger areas like the back or areas with fine or wisps of hair like the cheeks and upper lip.
Hirsute Patients have many things to consider before booking an appointment for a laser hair removal service. Usually, med spas that do offer it are licensed to conduct various hormonal tests, especially for testosterone levels, as these may influence the patient’s response to laser therapy.
Some of the underlying medical conditions behind Hirsutism like PCOS, thyroid dysfunctions, and adrenal hyperplasias may also affect the longevity of the results and therefore the total number of treatments needed, but not significantly.
Finally, the price of a laser hair removal session largely depends on the lasers being used. More than 15 laser systems are FDA-approved and commercially available in most cosmetics clinics today. Each of them (ruby, alexandrite, diode, Q-switched and long-pulsed neodymium: yttrium-aluminum-garnet, and intense pulsed light sources), with their own depth of penetration and wavelengths. People with Hirsutism usually need either alexandrite and diode laser systems, and in some cases, a combination of both. These are also the most expensive lasers in the market.
For those eligible for and interested in the treatment, you can expect to spend $300 per session and several thousand dollars in total. But because treatments are spread a number of weeks apart, usually payments can also be done in increments. Certain med spas even offer discounts for clients that can pay for several sessions at once, or opt for multiple areas in one session.
When you consider the costs of minimizing hair growth and eliminating the need for routinely wax sessions or new blades, laser hair removal is right on par.
We all have different relationships and levels of comfort with body hair, but those with Hirsutism consider removal to be a necessity for their hygiene, comfort, and confidence.
Whether you will undergo laser hair removal for cosmetic purposes or to address a medical condition, it is important to consult a professional that can customize a plan for you based on your needs.
You can trust the doctors and staff at Ethos Spa to listen to your needs and light the path for the journey to your hair-free, worry-free, and happier self.