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Eflornithine Combined With Laser Treatment May Be More Effective Than Laser Treatment Alone for Facial Hair Removal Above the Lip

En Español (Spanish Version)

Are you frustrated by unwanted facial hair? You have probably tried over the counter, herbal, and cosmetic treatments for this problem. Now there may be a better solution. Combining a new FDA-approved (US Food and Drug Administration) cream, Eflornithine 13.9% (Vaniqa), with laser hair removal seems to be your best option now.

In a study published in the July 2007 Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology , researchers compared Eflornithine and laser treatment to placebo (an inactive substance resembling a medication) and laser treatment to an area above the lip. They found that both treatments had significantly removed facial hair than laser treatment alone. Eflornithine is a medication that blocks an enzyme in the hair follicle during the growth phase.

About the Study

The researchers enrolled 33 women aged 22-65. All of the patients received laser treatment to the area above the lip. The patients applied Eflornithine to one side and a placebo cream to the other side for 30 weeks twice daily. The laser treatments were done every four weeks for six treatments. Patients were evaluated every four weeks with a final assessment at six months.

At six months, 93.5% of the upper lip areas treated with Eflornithine were clear compared to 68% of the area treated with placebo cream. By computer-analyzed photography, there was 8% less hair on the treated side. However, only 42% of patients noticed a difference and 58% considered the treatment similar to placebo. This particular study was small and further study is needed to confirm the results.

How Does This Affect You?

Hair removal can be time-consuming and expensive. And not all health insurances cover the treatment of unwanted hair. This study suggests that combining two treatments may be more effective. However, less than half of the participants saw improvement with the medication, which is quite different from the objective rating by the researchers. As with all medications, check with your healthcare provider about the safety of Eflornithine, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Eflornithine cream may cause skin irritation and should not be used if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. And although laser treatment for hair removal has become a very common medical procedure, it can be painful and inconvenient and sometimes lead to scarring.




  • Hamzavi I, Tan E, Shapiro J, Lui H. A randomized bilateral vehicle-controlled study of eflornithine cream combined with laser treatment versus laser treatment alone for facial hirsutism in women. J Am Acad Dermatol . 2007 Jul;57(1):54-9.

Last reviewed November 2007 by Larissa Lucas, MD

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