Laser Hair Removal
HS is a complex inflammatory systemic disease. Hair and the hair follicles definitely play a role, however, laser hair therapy will not address other factors with this disease such as the systematic aspect, the three different glands that may also contribute to HS depending on the severity, and your skin and pores.
Laser hair removal is not a guarantee, not always permanent, and can be quite costly. Several people have spent the money on laser hair removal and not seen any results. Laser hair removal doesn’t get rid of hair forever, so most of the time maintenance laser therapy is required.
Hair removal professionals do not technically remove hair follicles to prevent hair growth; rather, they “damage” hair follicle root so the hair cannot grow back. This leaves behind the sebaceous and the hair shaft, therefore, follicular occlusion can still occur.
Some at stage 1 and mild stage 2 have shown some improvement, however, the results have been temporary for many. For those with stage 3, it is just too painful and the laser will not penetrate many areas that have scar tissue and tunneling. Caution is recommended no matter what stage your disease is as it has aggravated the area, caused more inflammation, and made hidradenitis worse for some.
A fellow HS warrior recorded her laser treatment so others can see the process.
The Lowdown on Lasers
Lasers beam intense light at the follicle causing permanent damage to the hair in hopes that it no longer grows. Laser removal only targets dark hairs leaving any light hair behind; it is not as simple as removing a few hairs. Because they work by targeting the pigment in the hair, it's the contrast between the darkness in the hair and lighter skin that helps the laser focus on its bullseye. The ideal candidate has traditionally been someone with fair skin and dark hair.
For women of color or darker skin, laser hair removal has been a gamble and many times simply does not work. Devices have a hard time distinguishing between the pigment in the skin, hair, and the hair follicles.
Due to HS, laser therapy is not always painless for us and it can be a long and grueling process. It can take multiple sessions to see real results (anywhere between three and
eight + depending on the size of the area), and you generally have to wait six weeks between treatments.
Some laser and light-based options are being used as systemic therapies. They may decrease inflammation, destroy hair follicles, target sebaceous glands, kill bacteria and lesson lesions according to researchers. The Nd:YAG laser shows promising evidence of this. Link to research here.
The Cost of Lasers
It’s costly, especially if you cannot get this covered by insurance. Depending on where you live, it can cost anywhere between $200-$1,000 per session. Prices vary widely depending on the type of laser therapy.
In some cases insurance will cover laser hair removal, but this depends on your particular insurance and how the provider writes the prescription for the treatment.
Still Want to Give it a Try?
If you are still interested in laser hair removal it is recommended that you try a very small area first to see if this is something you can commit to and waiting a good amount of time to see if it helps in with your HS symptoms in that particular area.
This is an awareness article for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider.
Written by Denise Panter-Fixsen
Edited by Brindley Kons