A Double-Blind Placebo Controlled Study of a 5% Lidocaine/Prilocaine Cream (EMLA) for Topical Anesthesia During Thermolysis

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Electrolysis and thermolysis are commonly used electrosurgical methods for the permanent destruction of unwanted hair. However, patient fear of pain during treatment may interfere with or even prevent desired treatment of hirsutism on sensitive areas such as the upper lip.


This study was conducted to assess the efficacy of EMLA (Eutectic Mixture of Local Anesthetics), a 5% lidocaine/prilocaine cream, as a topically applied local anesthetic during thermolysis on the upper lip.


A double-blind placebo control study was conducted by the University of Texas Medical Branch thermolysis clinic. Thirty women with idiopathic hirsutism of the upper lip were studied. Pain was measured with a 100 mm visual analog scale (VAS).


Total paired VAS score differences comparing the placebo VAS scores to the EMLA VAS scores were significant by paired t-test (P = .0001). Adverse reactions were mild and transient.


EMLA cream may have multiple applications to the practice of dermatologic surgery, including topically achieved local anesthesia during thermolysis and electrolysis.

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