Permanent Hair Removal for Women With PCOS

Electrolysis is the only type of hair removal approved by the FDA as a permanent way of removing hair. For the thousands of women with PCOS electrolysis is a great option to permanently get rid of thick hair that often grows on their face, chest, and back.

Here is what you need to know before having electrolysis.

How Does It Work?

doctor's hand in glove holds apparatus for electrolysis of body parts against the background of a beautiful girl

nakleyschikova / Getty Images

During electrolysis, a small needle is inserted into the hair follicle, and a small current of electricity is applied to kill it. The hair is then removed with tweezers.

Since hair growth occurs in three different phases and your hair isn’t all at the same phase at the same time, multiple treatments are needed to ensure each hair is caught at the appropriate time in its growth cycle.

Does It Hurt?

It is important to remember that everyone’s pain tolerance is different and what one woman considers painful, another might register as only mildly annoying.

That being said, many women do report some discomfort from electrolysis due to the insertion of the needle (a slight stinging feeling) over and over again into each hair follicle being treated.

However, knowing that once completed the hair is gone forever is a strong motivator for working through the pain.

Is It Expensive?

Electrolysis treatments can be quite expensive, ranging anywhere from several hundred to over a thousand dollars to be completed.

The treatments, however, are spread out over multiple visits and many practitioners will allow you to pay as you go.

While the price may seem prohibitive to some, the results are permanent, so once the process is complete, you will no longer need to spend money on regular hair removal maintenance.

Choosing an Aesthetician

Make sure to seek the services of an electrologist who has completed national testing to become certified.

It is also helpful to check with the American Electrology Association to see if the practitioner has remained certified in his/her practice.

Ask a lot of questions before committing to a provider, including references or testimonials from prior clients.

How Should I Prepare?

Your electrologist will have her own procedures and requests for how you prepare for your treatment.

In general, you’ll want to avoid sun exposure for 48 to 72 hours before your appointment and avoid waxing, tweezing, or plucking any hair for as long as possible. 

You should also avoid caffeine, alcohol, or stimulants on the day of your visit, but you may want to take a pain reliever, such as ibuprofen about an hour before your visit.

If your electrologist gives you the okay, certain topical creams can be applied to numb the skin and reduce your discomfort. Make sure to ask before you apply anything.

What Are the Aftercare Instructions?

Your electrologist will give you instructions prior to leaving or even before the visit so you know what to expect.  

In general, the aesthetician will tell you to stay out of the sun for a few days and always apply sunscreen when you do go outside.

In addition, you may be asked to avoid washing or applying make-up (as in the case of facial electrolysis) to prevent irritating the site or introducing bacteria that can cause an infection.

She may give you an antibiotic or hydrocortisone cream to apply to minimize the risk of infection or swelling.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S Food and Drug Administration

  2. Ngan V. Electrolysis. DermNetNZ [internet]. 2003.

  3. American Electrology Association

  4. Vano-Galvan S, Jaen P. Complications of nonphysician-supervised laser hair removal: case report and literature review. Can Fam Physician. 2009;55(1):50–52.

  5. After care for electrolysis. JH Skincare Clinic [internet].

By Nicole Galan, RN
Nicole Galan, RN, is a registered nurse and the author of "The Everything Fertility Book."