If you’ve tried all the different hair removal methods, from shaving and waxing to epilator devices and chemical creams, the thought of undergoing permanent hair removal has surely crossed your mind more than once.
If you’re thinking of setting an appointment with your aesthetic clinic and deciding which hair removal method will suit you, it’s best to first know the difference between these two popular methods – laser and electrolysis.
Below, we compare the facts on these two methods to help you decide which is more suitable for you.
Laser hair removal works by directing a pulsating light beam toward the hair follicle. Melanin, a pigment found in dark-colored hair, then absorbs the heat which causes damage to the hair follicle. As a result, the hair follicle stops producing hair.
Electrolysis, on the other hand, uses a tiny metal probe, much like a needle. This needle is inserted deep into the skin and onto the hair follicle root. A faint electrical pulse is then sent into the hair follicle, causing permanent damage. The hair shaft (the visible portion of the hair) falls off, and since the follicle is destroyed, it can no longer produce any hair.
Length and frequency of sessions
Laser hair removal can target a larger skin area at once, so this usually entails a lesser number of sessions compared to electrolysis. About 6-8 treatments are needed for each skin area, and these sessions have to be spaced apart by about 4-6 weeks. Each session averages about 30-40 minutes for bigger areas like the chest, back, and legs, and about 5-10 minutes for smaller areas like the underarms and upper lip.
Electrolysis requires more treatments. Since the process is performed individually on each hair follicle, it is very time-consuming, sometimes requiring up to 30 sessions in a span of 9 months to 2 years to completely remove the hair in a single area. This span of time also depends on the skin area you want to treat and the type of hair growth in the area. Each session can last for about 15 minutes up to an hour, and may be done weekly or monthly.
Both methods are approved by the FDA; however, hair removal by laser is approved for permanent hair reduction, while electrolysis is approved for permanent hair removal.
Hair can be reduced by up to 90 % for several years using laser procedure. Patients rarely report any hair regrowth after the treatment program, and if any, the hairs are very fine and hardly visible. Some clients with thicker hair may need yearly maintenance sessions.
Laser hair removal is ideal for those with light skin and dark hair, since it specifically targets the pigment melanin, found in dark hair and skin. However, current advances in laser technology have enabled certain laser devices to treat light-colored hair and darker skin, so people with lighter hair or darker skin can now opt for laser hair treatment.
Electrolysis permanently damages the hair follicle, thus hair can no longer be produced. It works on any hair type or color, and can work on any part of the body, from the face to the bikini area. Nevertheless, it is impractical for larger body areas like the legs, back or full body. Since the needle is inserted individually into each hair follicle, covering large areas takes up a lot of time, and may also be too painful for the patient to endure.
Prices for both treatments may vary depending on the size of the treated area, hair density or the amount of hair being removed, and the part of the body being treated. Obviously, larger areas may be more expensive, and thicker areas may need more treatment sessions. Sometimes, hair characteristics and skin color can also be a factor.
Both treatments may charge per session or as a package for all of the sessions needed to remove the hair in a certain area. Basically, laser hair removal treatments charge a higher cost per session compared to electrolysis. However, since the laser procedure requires much fewer sessions, compared to electrolysis, which needs more than 20 sessions for one treatment area, overall, removing hair by laser system is still a more affordable and cheaper option.
Possible side effects
Both procedures are generally safe, and serious side effects are very rare. Laser hair removal may cause temporary redness or mild skin irritation which usually subsides after a few hours. Some patients have also reported having patches of a lighter or slightly darker skin color after treatment, which may take a few weeks to resolve. However, these side effects are rare, and do not usually occur if treatment is performed by properly trained medical personnel.
Electrolysis, on the other hand, may also cause itching and swelling after treatment, which subsides in a few hours. If done incorrectly, this method can also cause pitting or scarring due to needle insertion, so make sure to choose a well-trained electrologist if you opt for this method.
As to the pain felt during the treatment, laser hair removal is likened to the feeling of a tiny rubber band snapping against your skin, or for some, a mild tingling or warm sensation. A cooling gel is applied before treatment to avert any discomfort. For electrolysis, the pain may vary depending on your tolerance. The insertion of the tiny needles onto the skin tends to cause pain for most patients. This is why more people who have undergone both treatments describe laser procedure as more tolerable, with lesser discomfort felt during and after each session.
The Bottom Line
All in all, these two methods have excellent efficacy and may benefit both men and women alike. The technique suitable for you may depend on the size and area of the skin to be treated, the duration and frequency of sessions you can commit to, the price tag, and your pain tolerance. Laser hair removal is tolerated by more patients, unlike electrolysis which is invasive and can be very painful. It is a more sensible choice for large areas than electrolysis. Overall, laser hair removal is also a less costly method and can save you the time needed to go to numerous sessions as with electrolysis, and is a faster way to get rid of unwanted hair.
Now that you know more about these two hair removal methods, you can decide which method is more suitable for you to achieve the smooth, hair-free skin you’ve been wishing for. If you choose to go for laser hair removal, come to our clinic today for a one to one consultation with our doctor, and check out our affordable laser hair removal treatment services.