PCOS and Hair Removal update (2 years on…)

Posted by Lipglossiping On May - 1 - 2012

Nggggggghhhhhhh.

That’s the sound of me procrastinating over the writing of this post.  I am one of those annoying oversharers by nature, but there are some things in life that are easier to share than others right?  I’ll show you my pretty nails, you show me your hairy chins?  Or maybe not.  But… it’s been a year since my last update.

OK, I’ll show you my hairy chin and scare off any poor site visitor who doesn’t know the back story.

You see, I have PCOS – which stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.  It’s quite a common thing to have and affects around 1in10 women in the UK.  To over-simplify it a bit (a lot), it means that your hormones are whack… which brings about all sorts of rubbish symptoms including: infertility, acne, weight gain, hirsutism (excess hair).  Those are the playful symptoms, some of the more serious ones (heart disease & diabetes being two of them) are yet to be fully understood as the syndrome was only officially recognised as affecting more than just a woman’s ability to procreate a mere 30 years ago.

Not everyone gets every symptom.  Personally, I experience: infertility *looks at Leila with wonder etc. etc.*, weight-gain (well, I might aswell blame it on something?), hirsutism, and insulin resistance (which is where your body fails to react to the release of insulin in a normal manner – may or may not be a precursor to diabetes).

Still being fairly young and vain, my biggest hatred of the syndrome when I was first diagnosed was directed toward the hirsutism.  No girl in their teens wants to wake up and see a member of ZZ Top looking back at them in the mirror.

This was the extent of my hirsutism a couple of years ago, prior to undergoing laser hair removal.

Devastating is the most accurate word I can use to describe how something like this can make you feel.  Masculine would be the other.

This is how my chin looks today.  Take note that this is almost TWO weeks of hair growth, not two days as shown above.

Two freakin’ weeks people.

I’m actually inclined to believe that the top lip is generic old-lady (getting there) moustache growth rather than hormone related.  It’s fine and downy (which you can probably see), my old hair-growth in this area was coarse and stubbly.  Which basically means that I’ve just shown you my ‘tache and I have no “hormonal” excuse for it.  Cringe.

To say that my life has been changed by laser hair removal is an understatement.  You only need to look at the pictures to understand the daily struggle I had with excess hair.

Let me clarify exactly what I’ve had done…

In the summer of 2010 – I had 6 laser sessions at my local sk:n clinic in Southampton (I received this treatment gratis, so that I could review the service).  It was fantastic and I can’t recommend them enough – I vlogged about most of my sessions, you can find the posts by reading my laser hair removal adventures tag.  I followed this up in the Summer of 2011 with 5 IPL (intense pulsed light) sessions that I purchased via Groupon at another local salon.  This ‘topped up’ my original treatment and kept things gradually improving.

We’re now approaching Summer 2012 and I’ve just booked in for 6 IPL sessions at another local salon, again via Groupon.  The cost for the 6 sessions is in the region of £100.  A small yearly price to pay in order to remain almost completely hair-free.

There’s a common misconception about laser hair removal and IPL.  It’s not permanent hair removal and if you ever see it advertised as such, call bullshit on the provider.  It’s permanent hair reduction and salons are not actually legally entitled to use any other words to describe it.  As you can see from my experiences, it’s pretty full-on (fan-frickin-tastic) permanent hair reduction.  I would say that my hair growth has been reduced by at least 70% and shaving only once a week (once a fortnight sometimes) instead of twice a day has ensured that I will forever advocate the use of laser hair removal for PCOS sufferers.

Feel free to email me if you have any more sensitive questions you think I might be able to help with about the process.  Let me know how you guys are doing with the PCOS crap, I know that many of you have it (and it’s how you found the blog in the first place!)

OK, you can all stop looking at my chin now.


36 Responses to “PCOS and Hair Removal update (2 years on…)”

  1. indie says:

    I have PCOS and I went in for my first laser hair removal session two weeks ago. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  2. Emily says:

    Hi Charlotte, really have to thank you for these blog posts, it’s good to know there’s other girls out there just like me!
    I’m hoping one day I’ll be able to save up for laser sessions, but until then I’m just very lucky to have an understanding boyfriend, and know that I’m not alone when it comes to this.
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me a little more confidence x

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • You have a keeper there! Mine used to pluck the hairs I missed for me hahaha! You can get (I think it’s) 20% off hair removal with a Dr’s letter at sk:n with PCOS. Wait for when they run a 25% off promo code and buy a course at 45% discount! x

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Jennifer says:

    Hello!! I just came across this via Twitter, I am actually following you… but I didnt realize you suffer from the same annoying condition as me! I have procrastinated over and over again about doing a blog post regarding this… but its soooo refreshing to see a fellow blogger going (or has gone thru in ur case) the same thing as me… I am trying to conceive (just aint happening and im on MET) and truggle with this damn excess hair!! Would love to try laser but so expensive…however by the looks of it, youve been able to manage it with fewer sessions as I had expected, so may just give Wowcher a go when they do their IPL packages… thanks again for reminding me that Im not alone with PCOS!!! …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • I want to go back on met (I haven’t been on it since early 00’s). They do a 1-a-day tablet don’t they now? I couldn’t handle 3 horse pills a day! Good luck with everything and check what I wrote in previous comment re: discounts for PCOS x

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. project:girl says:

    I love your blog, but rarely comment. I don’t have this issue…but I have had friends who have. I know they are so grateful for you being open and honest about it and sharing what you can do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Brian Blessed says:

    The results of the IPL are amazing! I remember you advocating it when we first met up but considering how I’m slowly turning into Chewbaca, I’m seriously thinking of getting it done. The only thing that puts me off is growing the hair out and walking into a clinic looking like Brian Blessed. Do you have to grow the hair out so they can treat it or is it ok to get rid of it by shaving, not waxing or tweezing, before treatment?

    I currently wax which is great until I have to tweeze bits that I’ve missed/broken off and then I only really have a 2 day window before my life is dictated to me by my crazy hair growth!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

    • You don’t need to grow it out – you just need to ensure all the hair is growing at the same stage (at the same time). I stopped tweezing and started shaving 2/3 months before treatment and this ensured that maximum hair was caught in the ‘killing off’ stages when I was zapped.

      From my experience, (good) practitioners generally zap a bit more than you pay for to ensure they’ve covered the area well. You don’t need any hair showing above the surface of the skin during treatment.

      It definitely starts to dictate! Oh, also from the first session you see benefts because it destroys any hair in the follicle and starts reducing growth from day1. Only thing I’d recommend is to have it done through the winter months rather than summer because of potential tanning issues. Also, I’d always pay more for the ‘proper’ laser sessions first and then use IPL as the maintenance. According to IPL PR-type people I’ve spoken to, there is no difference in output strength but my skin reacted more violently to laser than IPL and laser PR-people told me that laser is a less-diffused power? I don’t know for sure but my guts tell me that laser is stronger (it’s also more expensive).

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

      • Brian Blessed says:

        I gave the Sk:n clinic a call as there’s one in Brighton but I’ll bend your ear when I see you next week……

        I did call them and they put my mind to rest on the goriwn out issue once I informed her that if they saw me coming with a full grow out, they’d think David Bellamy was on the way in for a conservation lecture! I think I’ll have to try it later in the year as I only have to look at the sun before I tan.

        I had a look on their site and they said that laser is more effective and stronger, how badly did you react to laser? My hair is quite strong and coarse so I’m wondering if that would be more effective.

        If it worked, I don’t think I’d be able to contain my excitement. Thanks for this post lovely xx

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Thank you so much for posting this- it takes courage to share what you’ve been through especially when it’s embarrassing or uncomfortable to do so. I’m giving you a huge high five and thank you so much for sharing this with us, I’ve learned a few things and this is why I love your blog!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Lsia says:

    Thanks for posting this.

    I think facial hair, even in women who don’t have PCOS or other hormonal stuff going on, is way more common than we admit because no one’s got the guts to talk about it–or show it. Good for you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  8. EmmyJean says:

    And I thought I was being courageous posting my dark circles without concealer! Bravo! I think it’s great that we can share our “flaws” and break down this idea of “perfect” beauty that the media has built. That being said, I had my ‘stache waxed for the first time last week…and ended up with a pimple ‘stache instead haha. My mom has had electrolysis done (eyebrows, toes, etc.) and it has been permanent; she’s never needed a touch up. The process is a bit more tedious since they zap each hair follicle individually, but it seems to be much more effective long term.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Oh no! I get that whenever I get my bleeding’ brows threaded! Yes, electrolysis is the only method that can be advertised as permanent but it’s tedious and slow-going and by all accounts, pretty painful? x

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • EmmyJean says:

        Heh my mum must have nerves of steel; she tells ‘em to turn up the machine lol! I think she just wants to get her money’s worth :) I’ve considered IPL to reduce redness (that is, once I graduate college and start bringin’ home the bacon…), but I didn’t know it could remove hair too!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Becky says:

    Well done you for being brave enough to put this out there. Its an issue for a lot of women and nothing to be embarrassed about although I am sure thats easier said than done. But I respect you for talking about this subject and hope that women out there can gain and relate to your experience.

    Becky
    Becky’s Makeup and Beauty

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. This is amazing! I would love to have this procedure done on my legs, because shaving is a pain in the you-know-what! >.<

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Anitacska says:

    Yeah, I don’t have PCOS and I have a bigger tash than you, lol. Waxing every two weeks or so takes care of nicely. :)

    But seriously, I’m really happy for how well the treatment has worked for you and while I don’t suffer from this, I’m sure you’ve been a big inspiration for many ladies who do, so thank you for being brave and sharing your journey on here. xxx

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Sydney says:

    I always admire your courage when you blog about issues like this.
    Of course is it not the most ‘appealing’ of topics but it is something real and true and that is one of the things I love about your blog, you’re realistic and I feel I can relate with it all entirely.

    I wish you much luck on your 2012 top up! x

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. The difference is really amazing and I can only imagine the difference it’s made for you. The hair growth you have on your upper lip definitely reminds me of mine (I’m sure you’re thrilled – but I mean it in the older lady solidarity kind of way) only mine seems to be concentrated around the outer corners of my mouth. Nobody say Fu Manchu!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Joanne says:

    Hadn’t read any of your previous posts about PCOS, wow what a difference – will go back and read them now. My 17yr old daughter was diagnosed with this about a year ago now and she has the acne, hairiness, weight gain and crazy hormones in equal measure. At the moment, she isn’t concerned with any of it so I’m trying not to be too so as not to dent her confidence. I’m sure at some stage she’ll probably consider the same treatment but as you say, once you start, it’s a lifetime commitment to it. She seems to have stabilised the hormones a little with Yasmin so she’s feeling a bit happier and less likely to rip someone’s head off at the slightest thing :-) Really feel for her and wish it was me instead. Dr was hopeless so she’s just swapped to a new one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Wordbird says:

    Thank you so much for over-sharing!
    After reading your original posts about laser hair-reduction, I went to S:kn in Bristol 18 months ago and had a course on my chin, jaw and upper lip.
    Beforehand, I had as heavy a daily growth as your before pic, if not worse. It made me very self-conscious and I knew it was visible. I couldn’t wear silk carves because my stubble would scag them! Grr!
    Anyway, after my very first treatment the worst of the hairs just fell out and never came back. It felt miraculous, if I’m honest.
    Nowadays I’m thinking of going back for a catch-up to get the ones that have grown back or started their production cycle, but it’s all within ‘normal’ parameters now. I can shave once a week and be unembarrassed in the co-op checkout at the end of the week when I’m fuzzy.
    It’s made a big difference.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. Rae says:

    Christ. My brain keeps looping back to your initial hair removal posts, so it’s nice to see an update! (And can I just say WOW, in regards to the results?)

    I’m not sure if I had mentioned it before, but I have… issues with hair, we’ll say. Coarse, dark hair + extremely pale skin results in a rather obvious light/dark contrast; it’s not a huge problem, but just enough to make me feel extremely uncomfortable about it.

    (Though, really, it doesn’t take a lot to make me feel uncomfortable. Also included in this category: swimming pools, off-leash animals, anything with more than four legs.)

    Anyhow. Sending you bushels of hugs once again for posting about your hair-journey! <3

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  17. Shelley says:

    Thank u so much for writing this, I have suffered with PCOS for years & have the tell tail dark, coarse hair on my chin & other areas. I’ve been having electrolysis & have had some really good results, it is a bit time consuming but I don’t find it painful, but then again I am on a very strong pain relief patch for another medical condition so this could b why lol! It’s made such a difference to my quality of life, it got to the point where I didn’t want to talk to anyone coz I felt they were staring at my hairy chin! I think if more people were as brave as u r for talking about this subject, sufferers might have an easier time. Anyway thanks again for such an honest post :) xx

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. Jules says:

    Hi, I just had my first laser treatment in years – I hadn’t needed to go again for such a long time as the results were so great, then I was trying to fall pregnant, then luckily I got pregnant (thanks to drugs, I’ve got PCOS too), then breast feeding. I got up the courage to go again after reading your post. Thank you!

    Have you considered getting any other areas done? I’d love my arms to be less hairy, but the actual hairs aren’t that dark, so I’m not sure…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • I’m so pleased I helped to ignite the spark to get you back on the laser wagon! I have considered it, I’m not bothered about my arms/legs – the growth is fine and I’m quite fair on my arms… but I would love to get my stomach (gag, yes really) zapped. Not sure I’m brave enough to do it though… perhaps if I had a washboard tum – but exposing the hair is bad enough, let alone doubling up with wobbly bits!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. Alana says:

    I have had pcos for 5 yrs and nothing works not even laser or ipl I’ve spent every dollar I earn on treatments and nothing has ever worked. I am totally ashamed of myself and I have lost all of my confidence. I get picked on – even though I am considered to others quite attractive. It’s a real shame that I have lost everything I ever lived for because of this damn pcos. I have read every document lost weight changed my diet, still no result. I can’t even wax because I get bad ingrown hair and my face has now calloused up from shavig twice a day and it is hard and lumpy I can’t even go to the shop to buy milk because I know everyone thinks I’m a transvestite. I have lost the plot because of this and don’t think anyone else will ever be able to help me. So yeah good luck for the 1% of those who are in my position. And let me know when u find the answer I need. My doctors can’t even help me anymore and I’m thinking of checking into a psyche ward.
    Peace out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Naya says:

    If you have cysts on your ovaries, you all should try Carol Foster’s Ovarian Cyst Miracle Program – it diminished my cysts and helped me feel a lot better.
    And then…. God, I experienced signs of PCOS! Crapsters! So I went in the Insulite Program, lost weight, got better skin, cycles, and balanced hormones. Then, I exfoliated, waxed, and bleached, all to get rid of the chin and mustache! I can say that exfo and UBTAN scrub really helped before waxing, so yeah. It all depends – I never shaved any of that hair, so it was pretty easy to balance them and wax.
    I no longer worry about pcos at all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. KC says:

    OMG!!! This has given me the encouragement to go and get laser hair removal.. I made my consultations and I bought a Groupon for 6 visits for $159. I am going to try it out and HOPEFULLY AND PRAYERFULLY it works. Ive been struggling with this since I had my daughter. I was told by my primary physician that I had PCOS but I was told by OB GYN that he didn’t see anything and that it maybe genetics. Idk but whatever it is..IM READY.. !!!!!!! THANKS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH!!!! tear

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  22. Tanya says:

    Hello
    Im a 17 year old girl of south asian background. Ive always had troubled skin and loads of fine hair all over my body and face. Over the last two months I’ve realised, my facial hair has increased both is thickness and length. And when i say facial hair I mean all over my face and neck, cheeks around my nose, in my nose, basically everywhere apart from my eyes and eyelids. I do believe Im becoming very mentally unsettled about it. Ive become an insomniac, being so anxious about whether it was sunny tomorrow and how bad the sun will expose my facial hair and acne (i bleach most of my face so the hairs pretty damn golden), so i barely sleep most nights I’m up till 4. I feel completely and utterly broken, every bit of self esteem gone, I can’t look anyone in the eyes and I hide away at home. I could deal with acne, makeup does wonders, but with hair on my face now, heavy makeup highlights every strand of hair. I do believe this is my absolute lowest I’ve ever been, I just can’t face the mirror and everyday another part of me becomes depressed. I know a lot of people face excess hair, and Ive arranged a doctors appointment to check for PCOS or hirsutism. Ive been considering laser hair removal, but Ive heard for my skin shade its not the most promising. Theres always scares about laser on dark skin and the potential of burning. Im also very scared of laser-induced hair growth, which would absolutely shatter me. Also as a student I really can’t fork out much at all.
    I really want to fix myself up, starting from the outside. My social life has been effected drastically, I barely leave the house. My school life is in shambles, my attendance appalling. Ive been offered great university offers in the likes of Imperial and Kings in London, but if I keep missing school my grades will fall and that dream will be lost.
    Please please reply back to me, if its okay for me to undergo laser hair removal or if its too risky. I can’t bear this any more, and although this is so overused, i can’t bear to live my life hiding away, I’d just rather not be here..
    Please help me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Hi Tanya,

      Well, you’ve taken all the right first steps towards getting a possible diagnosis and treatment. Advancements in laser hair removal (reduction) mean that is now completely possible to treat darker skin tones, although it may take a little longer and yes, you WILL need to take extreme care of your skin with regards to sun exposure. I’m not techno expert but the simple fact is that laser hair removal (reduction) is effective on dark hair. Aslong as your excess hair is dark, there are machines that will be able to treat these hairs, regardless of the amount of contrast between your skintone and the hair.

      I’ve been having IPL instead of laser for the last couple of years as it’s cheaper and more than sufficient to keep myself topped-up at a level that I can cope with but when I had laser, I remember the machines they used on darker skintones was called the Nd:Yag laser, so make sure you enquire about these… or any new technologies that are available. To be completely honest with you, I’ve never heard of laser-induced hair growth and it’s certainly not something I’ve experienced for myself!

      I would recommend that you see a reputable practictioner, and choose a company that actually specialise in laser hair removal… don’t be tempted by a groupon deal, the practitioners may not be prepared to deal with darker skintones. If you are diagnosed with PCOS, you may be able to get treatment on the NHS (though this tends to be a postcode lottery), alternatively… I know that Sk:n Clinic (where I went) used to offer 20% off treatments with a doctor’s letter (and could be combined with booking block discounted sessions). I’ve also discovered this website if you’re based in London.

      Either way, you’ve got so many options open to you. If you currently pluck or wax the hair and are intending to go the laser route, I’d stop doing this and start shaving instead. It can be completely demoralising to pick up a razor for the first time but for me, once I got over the “thought” of shaving my face and no longer had to spend 40-minutes a day peering into a mirror with a pair of tweezers, I felt SO much better about controlling the growth.

      Just as another quick update to my original posts, incase you wondered where I am with it all now, my last IPL sessions were Summer 2013… a block of six that cost around £100. I’m currently shaving once every 48hrs, usually when I’m in the shower. I have to shave a small patch on either side of my jaw and another patch on my neck, just below my ear-lobes. In each patch, I probably get around 5/6 dark hairs and a few white, fluffy ones that grow quickly but can be felt rather than seen.

      Laser will give you hair reduction, not complete removal. But I can only ask that you trust me when I say that the reduction is MORE than enough for me to never get upset about it or feel insecure and cover my chin when I’m talking like I used to do in my early twenties.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. Sarah says:

    Hi I have been working in the laser / IPL field since 1997 and have met lots of ladies with PCOS. What we try to do is put you in control of your hair growth instead if it being in control of you. Tanya please contact us as perhaps you could come and be a model for us on a traing day whereby you can receive treatment FOC from one of our trainers on a training day.

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