The Debate Over Hair Removal
The least you need to know: long term hair removal is open to debate. Most surgeons recommend shaving during healing and for a few months after. Long term shaving is a decision for you to make with your doctor. A study concluded in 2009 that long term hair removal was associated with increased chance of recurrence - we post the abstract from this study:
Long-Term Effects of Postoperative Razor Epilation in Pilonidal Sinus Disease
Diseases of the Colon & Rectum: January 2009-Volume 52-Issue 1-pp131-134
Petersen, Sven M.D., Ph.D.
PURPOSE: To study potential benefits of postoperative epilation after pilonidal sinus surgery, the long-term effect of hair removal on pilonidal recurrence was investigated.
METHODS: A total of 1,960 patients with pilonidal sinus treated surgically from 1980 to 1996 in three hospitals of the Deutsche Bundeswehr were eligible for the study. Regular hair removal with a razor was recommended for all patients after surgery. A randomly selected sample of 504 patients was contacted for a follow-up telephone interview.
RESULTS: The mean follow-up time was 11.3 (standard deviation, 6.4) years. Overall, pilonidal sinus disease recurred in 111 (22 percent) of the 504 patients. A total of 113 patients followed the recommendation to perform epilation (mean duration, 7.5 months), and 391 patients did not. Recurrence was observed in 30.1 percent (34/113) of patients who performed postoperative epilation and in 19.7 percent (77/391) of patients who did not perform postoperative epilation (P = 0.01).
CONCLUSIONS: Razor hair removal increases the rate of long-term recurrence after surgery for pilonidal sinus disease and therefore should not be recommended. However, the rationale for hair removal in pilonidal sinus disease is compelling. Other epilation techniques such as laser hair removal should be investigated in appropriate studies
With the above research in mind, it is our suggestion that long term hair removal is unadvisable in most circumstances. There may be benefit to certain male patients who have significant body hair in the buttock region. In those cases, it would be advisable to consider laser hair removal and with appropriate doctor recommendations it might be possible to get insurance to pay for the procedure, but you'll have to fight for it. Typically, health insurers consider laser hair removal to be a strictly cosmetic electic procedure. You and your doctor are going to have make a solid arguement that is it medically necessary to prevent further recurrences of Pilonidal Disease. Dr. Paul Harper has reported success in laser hair removal as an aftertreatment to Pilonidal surgery but has noted that getting insurers to pay has been challenging.
One Woman's Tour of Hair Removal Hell:
(Yes, I Have Tried Them All)
- Shaving, blade - Blade shaving is the most traditional form of shaving, but also is the hardest. The natal cleft is about as easy to shave with a standard razor as the bikini area is -- which is to say that it ain't easy. The only sane way is if you have someone else to do it for you, since the usual results of self shaving are nicks, cuts and razor burn from hell. Personally, I have sworn off shaving any of the....ahem, tender parts of my body with razors because of the horrible rashes afterward.
- Shaving, electric - Electric shavers have become the method of choice for many of us. True, the shave is not as close, but electric shavers do the least amount of damage to tender skin areas. The absolute, hands-down winner in the category of electric shavers are the new "groomers" that have gained popularity in the past couple of years. These small shavers are unsuitable for legs or larger body areas, but perfect for the natal cleft. Most are about the size of pen and range in cost from $15 to $20. Order online or pick up at most major drug chains. This is my "winner" in the war against crack hair!
Brand names include:
- "Panasonic Progressions Groomer"
- "Conair Fine Line Trimmer"
- "Finishing Touch"
- Waxing - Waxing tends to last longer than shaving, up to 3 weeks. It is not horribly painful (at least this part of the body). Waxing can be done at home if you have help (like shaving, it's tough to do this body area solo) or in a salon. Before you freak out at the salon idea, remember that professional waxers do bikini areas all day long and the also do "Brazilian bikini waxes" which is, basically, waxing everything below the navel. Waxing pro's have seen worse things than anything you've got to show, so don't sweat it. If you are considering this method, keep in mind the above warning about traumatizing the skin. Waxing is pretty brutal on hair follicles and areas treated can stay inflamed for several hours. Check with your surgeon first and make sure you are using No Bump RX afterward to avoid ingrown hairs and relieve the inflammation. Do not attempt waxing if you have any kind of an open wound.
- Depilatories - Many doctors recommend this to their patients, but few people stick with the method over time. Unless you are already fan of Nair and its ilk, you probably won't be enthused. Depilatories are smelly and don't always do a good job. DO NOT USE ANYWHERE NEAR AN OPEN WOUND. Many people report rashes or inflamed skin resulting from depilatories, so use with caution.
- Electrolysis - Expensive and painful. But effective; I've had my eyebrows done and am thrilled with the results. Electrolysis remains the only guaranteed form of permanent hair removal. For anyone considering this method, the same caveats apply as with waxing. Electrolysis cauterizes that hair follicle, which does result in inflammation. But, if the follicle is now dead, how much danger remains? There are no answers, but the worry scares off most people who have seriously considered Electrolysis for Pilonidal related hair removal. We have no reports yet at this site of anyone actually attempting Electrolysis of the natal cleft.
- Laser Hair Removal - True story: I made a significant financial investment in trying Laser Light hair removal on my face. Three treatments later.... no discernable change. The place I had my Laser treatment done at gave me a song and dance about "some people just need more treatments". More treatments at a very high cost, I might add. Now, I have light colored hair. If you've seen the pictures of people who've had success with Laser hair removal, they all have dark hair. So, my personal advice is that the Laser treatments are a worthy consideration for the men out there who have a LOT of very DARK body hair.
This page last updated: 01/15/2011