CO2 laser treatment for hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) shows promise in reducing inflammation, draining abscesses, and improving scarring.

HS is a chronic skin condition characterized by painful, recurrent nodules and abscesses, often in areas with sweat glands, such as your armpits and groin. The condition significantly affects quality of life and is challenging to treat.

In recent years, laser treatments have become increasingly popular for managing HS. One such treatment is carbon dioxide (CO2) laser treatment, which is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that vaporizes affected tissue. This approach may benefit HS by reducing inflammation, draining abscesses, and promoting healing.

CO2 laser treatment involves the use of a high-energy laser beam that’s precisely targeted at the affected areas of your skin. The laser energy is absorbed by the water in your skin cells, causing the cells to vaporize. This process removes the diseased tissue, including hair follicles and sweat glands, which are often affected in HS.

The laser also stimulates the production of collagen, which is a key component of healthy skin. This promotes the healing process and can improve the overall appearance and function of the skin in the treated areas.

CO2 lasers can be used to treat HS. By removing the affected tissue, the CO2 laser helps to reduce the inflammation, pain, and drainage associated with HS.

A 2015 study evaluated the effectiveness of CO2 laser evaporation for treating HS lesions in 58 participants over an average follow-up period of 25.7 months.

Results showed that 95% of participants reported some or great improvement, and 91% would recommend the surgery. But, 29% experienced recurrence within treated areas after 12 months, with obesity identified as a risk factor.

In a study of eight people with moderate to severe HS, researchers found that using a mixed-technology CO2 and Ga-As (gallium arsenide) laser resulted in positive outcomes, including a reduction in active lesions, inflammation, tenderness, and flare-ups.

Some participants experienced complete resolution of treated lesions, although new lesions occurred in some cases, requiring ongoing treatment. The laser treatment was well tolerated, with temporary redness and a slight burning sensation being the most common side effects. No hyperpigmentation or scarring was observed.

CO2 laser treatment for HS offers several benefits:

  • Targeted treatment: CO2 laser treatment specifically targets the affected tissue, minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
  • Promotes healing: The laser’s energy promotes the formation of healthy tissue and stimulates collagen production. This aids in the healing process and improving the overall appearance of your skin.
  • Improves scarring: Research suggests that CO2 laser treatment may be a promising option for improving the physical appearance of scarring in individuals with HS.
  • Minimally invasive: CO2 laser treatment is less invasive than traditional surgery, resulting in a quicker recovery.
  • Long lasting results: CO2 laser treatment can provide long lasting results for people with HS, reducing the need for frequent treatments.

CO2 laser treatment for HS, like any medical procedure, carries some risks. These can include:

  • Pain: Some individuals may experience pain or discomfort after the procedure, which can typically be managed with pain medication.
  • Swelling and redness: Swelling and redness at the treatment site are common and usually resolve on their own within a few days.
  • Scarring: While CO2 laser treatment can improve the appearance of scars, there’s a risk of developing new scars or worsening existing ones.
  • Infection: There’s a small risk of infection following CO2 laser treatment, which can usually be managed with antibiotics.
  • Changes in skin pigmentation: CO2 laser treatment can sometimes cause changes in skin pigmentation, such as lightening or darkening of your skin.
  • Burns: In rare cases, the laser may cause burns to your skin, which can lead to scarring or other complications.

Who should not use CO2 laser treatment?

The following individuals may not be eligible for CO2 laser treatment:

  • Pregnant people: Safety during pregnancy is not established.
  • Individuals with an active skin infection: The CO2 laser can potentially spread the infection to surrounding areas.
  • Individuals with a history of keloid scars: Keloid scars have a tendency to recur and worsen with skin trauma, including laser treatments.
  • Individuals with certain medical conditions: CO2 laser treatment may not be suitable for people with skin cancer or autoimmune disorders.
  • Individuals taking medications that increase scarring or interfere with wound healing: These medications may include corticosteroids or immunosuppressive or chemotherapy drugs.

The cost of CO2 laser treatment for HS can vary widely depending on several factors, including the extent of the treatment area, the severity of the condition, the number of sessions required, and the geographic location of the treatment facility.

Generally, a CO2 laser treatment session costs $3,400 on average, with total treatment costs ranging from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars.

Will insurance cover CO2 laser hair removal for HS?

CO2 laser treatment for cosmetic purposes is often not covered by health insurance. Insurance companies are more likely to cover CO2 laser treatment for HS if it’s considered medically necessary to treat the condition.

This may include cases where other treatments have failed or where the condition is causing significant pain, discomfort, or functional impairment.

But, it’s important to check with your insurance provider to determine if the treatment is covered under your plan.

CO2 laser treatment for HS involves using a high-energy laser to remove affected tissue and promote healing. It can improve HS by lowering inflammation, pain, and drainage related to the condition. The laser also stimulates collagen production, aiding in skin healing and improving its appearance.

If you’re considering CO2 laser treatment for HS, consult with a healthcare professional to determine if it’s a suitable option for you.