With its many pores and microscopic hairs, the skin is prone to all manner of infections and medical conditions. One type of outbreak that dermatologists and other medical professionals often see is Hidradenitis Suppurativa or “HS.” If you have it, you may notice unattractive or uncomfortable bumps forming on patches of your skin. This condition is not only physically discomforting, but also leaves patients feeling self-conscious about the unsightly blemishes. But there is some good news: HS is a treatable condition. Even better news: Body Details True Laser® Centers has had substantial success treating this unpleasant skin condition. Read on to learn more about Hidradenitis Suppurativa and viable treatment options.
What is HS?
HS is a common skin condition that primarily affects areas where the skin rubs together: groin, armpits, breasts, buttocks, etc. It appears as patches of small red bumps that resemble some forms of acne.
Causes of Hidradenitis Suppurativa
The root causes of HS are relatively unknown, meaning that there are no known bacteria or viruses that consistently cause HS. However, the bumps are usually the result of a blocked hair follicle, which is why laser hair removal is so effective. HS usually begins during or after puberty but can start nearly any time after that.
Symptoms of HS
Because HS can appear differently depending on the location of the body and the skin type, you should always get the opinion of a medical professional. Here are some of the most common manifestations of Hidradenitis Supporativa:
- Blackheads – Tiny pimple-like fissures with a black pin-dot coloring toward the apex. These often appear in pairs.
- Painful lumps – This usually starts as a single lump but can increase to multiple lesions. The lumps are larger than blackheads — about the size of a pea, are painful, and can persist for weeks or months.
- Leaking sores – Larger bumps can break open and release blood and pus.
- Tunneling – In severe cases, the lesions can form tunnels beneath the skin between lumps.
Diagnosing Hidradenitis Suppurativa
Your dermatologist or primary care physician can diagnose HS. Depending on the location of the outbreak, other specialists may be familiar with the signs of the condition. While you should never wait to get a proper diagnosis, it may be particularly urgent if you’re experiencing pain, discomfort, lack of mobility, or if the condition appears to be spreading. If your condition doesn’t improve on it’s own, you need to see a doctor.
Does Laser Treatment Work for HS?
Because lasers are so effective in hair removal, it would stand to reason that they could also assist with a skin condition that’s caused by blocked hair follicles. Peer-reviewed medical studies involving laser hair removal and its efficacy in treating Hidradenitis Supurativa have shown remarkable results. In one such study, using an Nd: YAG laser, researchers noted a 32% improvement two months after the second treatment and an incredible 72.7% improvement during the four months post-treatment. These improvements were measured via the Lesion Area and Severity Index. At Body Details, our practitioners use the GentleMax Pro True Laser Class IV for laser hair removal. The GentleMax Pro combines the 1064 nm Nd:YAG laser (mentioned in the above study) and a 755 nm Alexandrite laser. We have had substantial success treating patients with Hidradenitis Suppurativa of varying severities.
Other Hidradenitis Suppurativa Treatments
There is a wide range of treatments that dermatologists and other doctors recommend when it comes to treating HS. The success of any treatment depends on the severity of the HS, the skin type of the patient, and other factors. Treatment medications include the following:
- Topical antibiotics – Some over-the-counter and prescription ointments may be effective in mild cases.
- Oral antibiotics – For more severe cases or cases that affect multiple areas of the body, doctors may prescribe oral antibiotics: doxycycline, clindamycin, and rifampin are among the more common antibiotics.
- Prescribed hormones – Some patients have shown signs of success with estrogen-based medications.
- Biologics – Tumor necrosis factor inhibitors like infliximab and adalimumab have been approved by the FDA for treatment against HS. These medications are administered intravenously, and they are designed to alter the immune system to combat the condition.
- Retinoids – Acne-like symptoms can be treated with retinoids.
For more severe HS cases, doctors may also recommend surgery. These procedures may include the following:
- Punch debridement – This involves removing an inflamed bump. It’s often also referred to as “unroofing.”
- Uncovering tunnels – The surgeon exposes the tunneling beneath the skin by removing the tissue above them. This is also sometimes referred to as unroofing.
- Laser therapy – Not to be confused with the type of laser hair removal offered by Body Details True Laser® Centers, the laser targets more pronounced sores — as opposed to the hair follicle causing the infection.
- Surgical removal – This procedure involves the removal of the patch of skin where lesions exist.
Incision and draining is no longer a widely used surgical solution but may be employed for pain relief. In most cases, the sores return. It’s important that you don’t try to lance any skin fissure on your own. Contact a physician to evaluate your condition properly.
How Laser Hair Removal Works
While laser hair removal is one of the more effective non-invasive medical treatments for dealing with Hidradenitis Supurativa, it wasn’t specifically designed for this condition, and it has multiple uses. Many people choose Body Details True Laser® Centers for cosmetic reasons, such as back hair removal, facial hair removal, leg hair removal, and much more. The advantages are numerous. Here’s how it works:
The laser targets the hair shaft with a powerful beam of light. The light travels through the hair stalk and terminates at the root of the hair. This heats it up enough to destroy the follicle, preventing further growth. With darker skin, the laser penetrates the capillaries that feed the hair follicles, ending their ability to supply the follicle with nutrients.
It’s essential that you use a clinic that employs professionally trained medical staff. At Body Details, our laser technicians are advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) or physician assistants (PAs) who work under the direction of a physician. We use the GentleMax Pro True Laser Class IV for laser hair removal. It combines the 1064 nm ND:YAG laser and a 755 nm Alexandrite laser. Our technicians calibrate the laser depending on your skin type.
Frequently Asked Questions About HS and Laser Hair Removal
If you are suffering from HS and you’ve tried other remedies, you may have heard that many Hidradenitis Suppurativa sufferers have had success with laser hair removal. These are some of the more common questions asked by HS patients and answers provided by our experienced staff.
Why Don’t Some Doctors Start by Recommending Laser Hair Removal to Treat HS?
Some doctors will start with other HS treatments because they’re unfamiliar with the efficacy of lasers or they would prefer to try and treat it with an inexpensive topical antibiotic. Additionally, some insurance companies will not pay for laser hair removal as a treatment for HS until the doctor has tried other methods. Whatever the reason your doctor hasn’t brought it up, you should ask them about laser hair removal as a possible treatment option.
Is Laser Hair Removal Painful?
Laser hair removal is not considered to be painful, but some experience a mildly unpleasant sensation — similar to a rubber band snapping against the skin. This, of course, may be amplified on skin that’s already sensitive due to the HS. The lasers we use for hair removal have a built in DCD (dynamic cooling device) that emits cryogenically cooled air over the affected area. This will help keep your skin stay cool and comfortable during the hair removal process.
What if My Doctor Recommends Against Laser Hair Removal?
You should always defer to your doctor when it comes to medical decisions. If you believe that your doctor is being too conservative, you can get a second opinion from another doctor or a specialist. Do not schedule laser hair removal if your doctor recommends against it.
What Should I Avoid Ahead of My Laser Hair Removal Session?
There’s no need to have any hair growth prior to your session, so shave 24 hours prior to treatment but do not wax or pluck ahead of your treatment as lasers use subsurface hair as a method of delivery of laser energy to the root. Try to avoid getting an excessive amount of sun on the treatment area. If you use tanning beds, cover the affected area to prevent exposure. Avoid using creams or cosmetics on the treatment area.
If My Insurance Doesn’t Cover Laser Hair Removal, Can I Pay For it Myself?
Many insurance companies won’t pay for laser hair removal, even when it’s prescribed by a doctor. Fortunately, laser hair removal is affordable for most people, and Body Details has friendly financing terms. If you and your doctor both agree that LHR is the best option for your HS skin condition, your next step should be to make an appointment for a free, no-obligation appointment at a Body Details near you.
How Does the Free Touch-Ups for Life Free Lifetime Guarantee™ Apply to HS?
Our Free Touch-Ups for Life Free Lifetime Guarantee™ applies to new hair growth. If we remove hair from a treatment area and any new growth ever occurs due to hormonal changes or medication, we will provide free touchup treatments for life under the written terms and conditions of the free lifetime guarantee. We do not, however, guarantee that our hair removal services will successfully treat your HS. We can remove hair in the area where you suffer from outbreaks.
Florida Laser Hair Removal for HS
Body Details True Laser® Centers has locations throughout South Florida. We offer a wide range of aesthetic laser treatment packages and achievable pricing. Your initial consultation is free, and you are under no obligation to purchase services. Schedule your appointment today!