Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

A hormonal disorder causing enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Many of us women experience Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). It is a hormonal condition that affects 1 in 5 women in Australia alone. As the name suggests, it involves many (‘poly’) cysts forming on the ovaries.

However, this isn’t the only indication of PCOS. It also causes an overproduction of male hormones (androgens) and/or insulin

The direct causes of these PCOS conditions can cause one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Excessive darker and coarser hair
  • Painful menstruation with very heavy or very light bleeding
  • Skipped/irregular periods
  • Diabetes
  • Skin conditions such as acne (especially around the chin/jawline), melasma, and keratosis pilaris
  • Heart disease
  • Hair loss (alopecia)
  • Weight gain (particularly in the abdominal area)
  • Difficulty conceiving
  • Darkening of the skin in areas such as neck, groin, and beneath the breasts
  • Mood changes
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Endometrial hyperplasia

If you have one of these symptoms, such as acne, it is not likely that you are suffering from PCOS as there are a multitude of causes for many of these symptoms. However, if you have a combination of these symptoms, we highly advise that you visit your General Practitioner (GP) prior to treating the symptom(s).

For some women, PCOS is only diagnosed following investigations for problems with conception. It is estimated that PCOS is present in more than 70% of women with infertility arising from failure to ovulate.

When does PCOS appear?

PCOS characteristics are most common during puberty, or ‘childbearing’ ages, however, can arise at any age.

The characteristics that appear at each age include:

  • Childhood – it usually causes premature puberty
  • Teenage years – it is usually exhibited by excess hair and/or by menstrual abnormalities
  • Early adulthood or middle life – it usually presents by infertility and/or by glucose intolerance
  • Later life it usually presents with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

If you have symptoms, it is essential that you seek medical advice and investigation to confirm or eliminate PCOS.

PCOS and Laser Hair Removal

PCOS is not a contraindication when having any aesthetic treatments done. Many aesthetic treatments will help you with managing PCOS symptoms. As mentioned above, PCOS can cause excessive hair growth (known as hirsutism), acne, melasma, and keratosis pilaris because of the increased androgen levels. These symptoms can cause a negative impact on your self confidence and mental health, especially when it appears on visible areas such as your face.

Many women visit us at City Laser Clinic quite distressed with their PCOS symptoms. Fortunately, through laser and other medical grade treatments, we can significantly improve your symptoms and help regain your self-confidence.

The most common areas for excessive hair growth are on the face, areolas (nipples), chest, inner thighs, and/or in the middle of the lower abdomen (aka ‘snail trail’). These areas are all treatable with our Candela GentleLase Alexandrite Laser.

You should not be embarrassed to consult professionals about laser hair removal with PCOS symptoms. City Laser Clinic therapists are experienced, qualified, and accredited to perform safe Laser Hair Removal (LHR). Many of our clients are suffering from the same condition and we love to help where we can. LHR is an appropriate treatment with results superior to home remedies for excess and unwanted hair.

How it can help

After a few LHR sessions, you will first notice the change in texture of your hair. Your hair will grow back finer, lighter, and less noticeable. As laser treatments continue, you will start to notice significant reduction in the amount of hair that is growing back. Up to 80% of a reduction can be expected, in some cases up to 90% hair loss can be achieved after 6-9 treatments on the legs, arms, stomach, back, & buttocks, and 9-12 treatments on the armpits and Brazilian.

Extra treatments are required for the armpits, Brazilian and face/neck as these areas are quite hormonal regardless of PCOS. On the facial areas (including neck), an ongoing maintenance laser treatment program is usually necessary for the management of any remaining hair. When treating delicate areas such as the face it is very important that you choose a Medical Grade Laser. At City Laser Clinic, we only use genuine Candela GentleLase (Alexandrite 755nm) Lasers with a Dynamic Cooling Device for best results, safety, and your comfort.

Please note that laser hair removal will only work on dark hair. If you have white, blonde, red, or grey hair we recommend that electrolysis vs laser hair removal for PCOS triggered hirsutism.

Your laser hair removal treatments will also help with Keratosis Pilaris (KP) caused by PCOS. In short, KP is blocked keratin which forms small, often red, bumps on your skin. They most commonly appear on the upper arms and/or thighs. LHR helps to smoothen these bumps by destroying the keratin that’s blocked under the skin. Once these bumps are smoothened, we can then treat any discoloration left behind by the KP with our Medlite Q-Switched Laser and/or FRAXIS Co2 Laser.

PCOS Acne Treatment

Acne is normally associated with adolescence however this isn’t always the case. Women who continue to get acne well after this time find it frustrating and embarrassing. In addition, the moderate to severe acne is usually a result of PCOS and can cause deep scarring if left untreated.

At City Laser Clinic we can treat your PCOS associated acne and/or acne scarring with a combination of treatments. These treatments normally include:

  • Vitamin A peels
  • Q-Switched laser treatments
  • LED therapy treatments
  • Radiofrequency (RF) Microneedling treatments and/or;
  • Co2 laser treatments
We will also prescribe a customised homecare regime to ensure that you are using the correct products for your unique skin type. This is important as some skincare can aggravate your condition and counteract your treatments.

PCOS and Melasma Treatment

Melasma is a hormonal pigmentation, most common in skin types 3-4. It appears as dark patches (hyperpigmentation) across your upper lip, on your forehead, and/or on your cheeks. When presenting on your cheeks, it is normally an identical patch on both sides.

Unfortunately, there is not much that you can do to avoid melasma. It is triggered by any hormonal changes. This hormonal change can be as simple as starting or changing an oral contraceptive. If you have not had any hormonal changes that you know about, and are just starting to experience melasma, it is a sign to visit your local GP. You may have a hormonal condition such as PCOS or hypo/hyperthyroidism.

If this is the case, you can then treat your hormonal condition. By treating your condition, your thyroid or PCOS hyperpigmentation should lighten on its own. However, it will still be visible. If you are after treating and managing your melasma, we offer Melasma Management treatments using our q-switched laser. We will also advise how you can prevent your melasma from reappearing with a few simple lifestyle changes.

Medical Treatment and Diagnosis

At City laser Clinic we often come across women who have not yet consulted their Medical Practitioner about symptoms consistent with PCOS. Whilst treating your PCOS symptoms (excessive hair growth, acne, etc.) we will also encourage you to consult your Medical Practitioner to investigate the underlying causes and confirm or exclude PCOS as a cause.

It is important to find (and control) the underlying cause of your symptoms. This is because whilst we can treat the symptoms, they will keep reappearing if the underlying cause is still occurring. In other words, if your acne is caused by your PCOS, it will return once you stop treatments unless you are also treating your PCOS.

Women with irregular periods and/or acne may be prescribed an oral contraceptive pill which eliminates a ‘true’ period altogether. With the menstrual-related symptoms no longer apparent, PCOS may go undetected. It is important to discuss symptoms with your Medical Practitioner and investigate the possibility of PCOS rather than delaying and consequently exposing yourself to the risk of long-term health problems like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Diagnosis of PCOS usually involves an ultrasound of the ovaries and blood tests to determine hormone levels. Your Medical Practitioner will also take a thorough medical history (if not already recorded).

Treatment for PCOS depends on the symptoms presenting and whether you are trying to fall pregnant. If you are diagnosed with PCOS and are trying to get pregnant, the immediate treatment is usually directed towards establishing regular ovulation to improve the chance of pregnancy. Whereas if you aren’t trying for a baby anytime soon, your GP will try to provide relief from the symptoms (usually a contraceptive pill).

You may also benefit from advice and support from the various PCOS support groups. Support groups provide current and specific information and allow women to share their experiences. Being able to talk to someone who has similar problems can help reduce any feelings of isolation.

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