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Women's health centre

Hair removal

BMJ Group Medical Reference


This information is for people who have polycystic ovary syndrome. It tells you about hair removal, a treatment used for polycystic ovary syndrome. It is based on the best and most up-to-date research.

Does it work?

We don't know for certain how well removing hair by shaving, using creams, waxing, having electrolysis, or having laser treatments works. That may sound odd: obviously if you remove hair, it's not there any more. But we'd like to find out which methods work best, whether any of them stop hair growing back quickly, and which have the least side effects. Unfortunately, there hasn't been much research looking at this. So, we can't tell you for certain how well all the different ways that you can remove hair work.

What is it?

There are lots of different ways to remove unwanted hair. You've probably tried some of them yourself, especially if unwanted hair is one of your symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

We are looking here at what doctors call mechanical ways of removing hair. This means you reduce the amount of hairs you have by removing them from your body. To see a list of different methods for removing hair, and some information about how they work, see Ways of removing hair.

You can do some of these things yourself, at home, like shaving and using hair-removal creams. Others, like waxing and electrolysis, are often done at beauty salons. The important thing is to find the method that works best for you. That might involve trying a few different methods.

How can it help?

It's hard to say exactly how these treatments can help, because there's been so little research looking at how well they work. But, if you find unwanted hair upsetting, removing it in a way you find convenient can help you feel better about yourself and the way you look.

Some research has found that laser treatment can reduce unwanted hair by around 50 percent. [99] One study involved 88 women who had four or five treatments on their faces, over six months. Half had laser treatment and half had a dummy treatment (a placebo) using a low-powered laser. [100]

The women who had the actual laser treatment said they had much less hair on their faces by the end of the study. The women who had the dummy treatment didn't notice much difference.

Lots of private clinics offer laser hair removal. If you decide to have this treatment, make sure the clinic you choose is registered with the Care Quality Commission. Clinics providing laser skin treatments must register by law. You can ask to see a certificate of registration, or check at the Care Quality Commission's website.

Last Updated: August 13, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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