Fixed, low radiant exposure vs. incremental radiant exposure approach for diode laser hair reduction: a randomized, split axilla, comparative single-blinded trial

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Abstract

Background

Diode lasers are the most commonly used treatment modalities for unwanted hair reduction. Only a few controlled clinical trials but not a single randomized controlled trial (RCT) compared the impact of various laser parameters, especially radiant exposure, onto efficacy, tolerability and safety of laser hair reduction.

Objective

To compare the safety, tolerability and mid-term efficacy of fixed, low and incremental radiant exposures of diode lasers (800 nm) for axillary hair removal, we conducted an intrapatient, left-to-right, patient- and assessor-blinded and controlled trial.

Methods

Diode laser (800 nm) treatments were evaluated in 39 study participants (skin type II–III) with unwanted axillary hairs. Randomization and allocation to split axilla treatments were carried out by a web-based randomization tool. Six treatments were performed at 4- to 6-week intervals with study subjects blinded to the type of treatment. Final assessment of hair reduction was conducted 6 months after the last treatment by means of blinded 4-point clinical scale using photographs. The primary endpoint was reduction in hair growth, and secondary endpoints were patient-rated tolerability and satisfaction with the treatment, treatment-related pain and adverse effects.

Results

Excellent reduction in axillary hairs (≥76%) at 6-month follow-up visit after receiving fixed, low and incremental radiant exposure diode laser treatments was obtained in 59% and 67% of study participants respectively (Z value: 1.342, P = 0.180). Patients reported lower visual analogue scale (VAS) pain score on the fixed (4.26) than on the incremental radiant exposure side (5.64) (P < 0.0003). The only side-effect was mild and transient erythema. Subjects better tolerated the fixed, low radiant exposure protocol (P = 0.03). The majority of the study participants were satisfied with both treatments.

Conclusion

Both low and incremental radiant exposures produced similar hair reduction and high and comparable patient satisfaction. However, low radiant exposure diode laser treatments were less painful and better tolerated.

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