BACKGROUND: Pilonidal disease is common. Excessive hair growth in the natal cleft is thought to be a factor in initiating these sinuses. It is chronic and intermittent in nature and treatment can be difficult. Hair removal by shaving or use of creams is often advised as a compliment to surgical treatments. However, access to the natal cleft can be difficult. Laser removal of hair in the natal cleft is considered as an aid to healing the pilonidal sinus. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Over a 5-year period, 14 patients with recurrent pilonidal disease were treated in our unit with laser depilation. They were all contacted by postal questionnaire, and those with ongoing disease were asked to return to the clinic for evaluation and possible further treatment. RESULTS: All patients returned the postal questionnaire. Of the 14 patients, 4 had on-going disease and received further depilation with the Alexandrite laser. All are now healed with no reported complications. All patients found the procedure painful and received local anaesthetic. CONCLUSIONS: Laser depilation in the natal cleft is by no means a cure for pilonidal disease. Removal of hair by this method represents an alternative and effective method of hair removal and, although long lasting, is only temporary. However, it allows the sinuses to heal rapidly. It is relatively safe, and simple to teach, with few complications. It should thus be considered as an aid to healing the problem pilonidal sinus
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