Everything You Need to know about
Laser Hair Removal vs Electrolysis
Learn all the secrets about Laser Hair Removal. They are not all equal!
Laser hair removal and electrolysis are two popular types of long-term hair removal methods. Both work by targeting hair follicles located under the skin’s surface.
According to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, laser hair removal is on the rise, with an increase of nearly 30 percent from 2013. Though electrolysis is also increasing in popularity, it’s not as common as laser therapy.
Keep reading to learn the benefits, risks, and other guidelines for each procedure.
What are the pros?
- While laser hair removal doesn’t get rid of hair forever (only electrolysis is FDA-approved for permanent hair removal), it does drastically reduce hair growth—to the point that you can stop shaving altogether.
- You can get it done anywhere on the body, and the machine can cover large places fast. Legs, back, underarms, bikini line, stomach, face…There is no limit to the places you can get laser hair removal.
- When it comes to pain level, laser hair removal falls somewhere between shaving (painless) and waxing (holy hell that hurts). The technicians use ice to help numb the area before and after the laser treatment. It also gets progressively less painful as treatments continue and the hair becomes finer, says Charles.
What are the cons?
- It’s a long process. A session of laser hair removal on the underarms takes less than a minute. However, it takes multiple sessions to see real results (anywhere between three and eight depending on the size of the area), and you generally have to wait six weeks between treatments.
- Since the contrast between the colour of the skin and the colour of the pigment in the hair follicle is what allows the laser to easily pick out what to target, laser hair removal works best on fair skin with dark hair and worse on darker skin. “In patients with darker skin tones the pigment-rich skin competes with the hair follicle for the laser’s attention,” says Charles. This doesn’t mean it’s not a possibility for darker skin types, but you’ll want to make sure the facility you go to is properly equipped. Certain lasers, like the Nd: YAG, are better at distinguishing between hair and skin on all skin types.
- If done by an untrained technician, laser hair removal could leave burns or scars on the skin. Unfortunately, licensing procedures vary from state to state, and sometimes there are no requirements at all. Beware of “laser centers” and make sure to ask where your laser technician was certified to do the procedure. Even doctors who want to provide laser hair removal treatments need further training. “Laser treatment is not taught in medical school, so physicians performing laser treatments also need training and
Laser hair removal is considered an optional cosmetic procedure, so it isn’t covered by insurance. The overall cost varies based on how many sessions you need. The starting price is usually $100 per treatment and you might need between 4 to 8 treatments on a true laser system and between 10 to 14 on an IPL device.
Although at-home laser hair treatment might be appealing in terms of cost, it’s not proven to be safe or effective.
What to expect from electrolysis
Advantages and Disadvantages of Electrolysis
Electrolysis is suitable for all skin types. It is an effective treatment option for permanent hair removal. It works by passing a small charge of electricity to the active hair follicles. This is done by inserting a small needle through which electricity is passed. Once this is done, the active hair follicles are permanently destroyed.
Laser treatment has gained huge popularity over the years as it is considered safe, quick and effective. According to the FDA, laser treatment for hair removal offers limited hair reduction. Experts suggest that electrolysis is a better alternative for permanent hair removal. Electrolysis can safely be used to remove hair from most of the body except the insides of the nostrils and inner ear.
If you are planning to get rid of your hair by electrolysis, take a look at its advantages and disadvantages.
- It is a safe and proven method for permanent hair removal.
- Very few chances of hair regrowth after the full course of treatment.
- Is effective on all skin types and on all types of hair, unlike laser treatment.
- If the area to be treated is large, it can be time-consuming and expensive.
- You may have to undergo several treatments to get hair removed permanently.
- It is painful as each hair is treated individually.
- It can be effective only when done by a qualified and trained therapist.
- Reddening of the skin or skin soreness may occur and last for a few hours after the treatment.
Like laser hair removal, electrolysis isn’t covered by insurance. The amount you pay depends on the size of the area being treated and the number of follow-ups required. Some doctors charge an hourly rate. Electrolysis costs less with each visit, but you may end up having more sessions than with laser therapy.
At-home epilators are available for sale, but these aren’t as effective as professional devices. Plus, these machines aren’t regulated by the FDA for safety.
Which is best?
Laser therapy and electrolysis both produce longer-lasting effects compared to shaving. Results from Laser Hair Removal are quicker and faster but the results are more permanent from electrolysis.
The downside is that electrolysis must be spread out over more sessions. It can’t cover large areas at once as laser hair removal can. Your choice may depend on how quickly you want to achieve short-term hair removal.
Also, doing one procedure and then the other isn’t a good idea. For example, getting electrolysis done after laser hair removal disrupts the effects of the first procedure. Do your homework ahead of time and talk to your dermatologist about the best option. If you decide to switch hair removal procedures, you may need to wait several months before beginning.