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Electrolysis vs Laser Hair Removal

When it comes to hair removal, there are a lot of methods available. While some are very short-term, others will offer permanent hair removal. The cost will vary from a method to another but it is important to consider the cost in both the short-term and long-term. Indeed, shaving may seem cheap in the short-term but will end up being more expensive than laser hair removal in the long-term. Now, let’s have a look at both electrolysis and laser hair removal to determine which method is the best.

The process

How does electrolysis work?

Electrolysis is a permanent hair removal method. It has been approved as such by the FDA. Regardless of genetics, skin tone, hair color, etc. the procedure will stop hair growth permanently. It requires multiple sessions for optimum results. However, it still does not mean you will not see any hair popping up in the treated area. Indeed, it is possible that this hair was never treated in the first place, especially if the hair is not in the anagen phase of growth.

During an electrolysis session, a very fine needle is inserted into the skin to get to the hair follicle. Each hair follicle is treated individually. The treatment uses shortwave radio or direct current to stop new hair from growing. The procedure damages the hair follicles. After a time, the existing hair will fall out.

There are three types of electrolysis: galvanic (chemically dissolves the follicles), thermolysis (uses localized heat) and blend (uses both methods). Different clinics will use different methods. Immediately after the treatment, patients may experience irritation and redness but it is a normal reaction and should fade within a few hours.

How does laser hair removal work?

Laser hair removal is a long term hair growth reduction method. It reduces hair growth by up to 90%. Even though it does not qualify as a permanent hair removal method, a lot of patients do indeed experience permanent hair removal. Patients may need touch up sessions after their initial treatment if some hair was never treated or some follicles not damaged enough.

Laser hair removal relies on selective photothermolysis. It is a precise microsurgery technique used to target tissue in a specific area. It matches the specific wavelength of light and heats the tissue and destroys it with a laser without affecting or damaging surrounding tissue.

During a session, the laser emits light energy that is absorbed by the melanin in the hair. The energy then travels to the hair follicle where it turns into thermal energy. The heat will damage the follicle, preventing further hair growth. The treatment only works when the hair is in the anagen phase of growth.

Indeed, it is the only time the hair and follicle connect, allowing the energy to travel from the former to the latter. Only 20% of all hair being in the right stage of growth at any point in time, patients will need multiple sessions to achieve good results. Indeed, each session can treat up to 20% of all body hair.

The cost

How much does electrolysis cost?

Electrolysis does not work with packages. It works per session, which number will vary based on the size of the area. Indeed, during each electrolysis session, only a small part of the area will be treated. Remember that each hair is targeted one by one by a tiny needle. Thus, although a session may not be so long, the treatment will be.

If you pay per session, your cost will look higher than if you had paid for a wax. For example, a 15 minutes session will cost you $50. Should you decide to treat your underarms, those 15 minutes may not be enough to work on the whole area. You will thus have to buy extra sessions. However, if you wax, you will have to come back every month.

If you multiple that cost per month then per year, waxing becomes more expensive in the long-term. The most affordable rates in New York City on average are $50 for a 15 minutes session, $80 for a 30minutes session, $110 for a 45 minutes session, and $130 for a 60 minutes session. Buying a lot of sessions at once may get you a discount.

Again, since each hair must be targeted individually, it will take a lot of time for a full big area to be treated. On average, a large session like the full legs will require at least twelve sessions of one hour each. Some patients may need more. The cost will at least be $1,500.

How much does laser hair removal cost?

One big misconception about laser hair removal is that it is a very costly treatment. Although it can indeed be a significant upfront investment, in the long-term the cost is not that high. Actually, the cost becomes cheaper than waxing after a few years. Indeed, 50 years of waxing once a month will amount to around $60,000.

The same treatment for the same areas as hypothesized above, which are full legs, full Brazilian, upper lip and underarms, will cost up to $5000. This of course depends on the laser spa or clinics you choose. Some are cheaper than others. Some will also offer deals and packages that make the treatment much more affordable.

Of course, the bigger the treatment area, the higher the cost. The same goes with the number of areas you treat. However, if you are savvy and check out websites for deals and offers, you will manage to save a lot of money on laser hair removal. For example, at Spektrum Laser Spa, we offer a package for 8 sessions of laser hair removal for two small and one large areas for just $285.

The cost for a six session package for a small area will start at $500 (including tax). Six sessions of full legs will cost around $1,500 (including tax). Some packages will combine a few areas, which will decrease the cost of the whole treatment.

The session length

How long is an electrolysis session?

The length of a session depends on the area you choose to treat. Patients need to remember that each session will not be enough to treat the entirety of an area. Indeed, as explained above, the treatment targets each individual hair one at a time. Thus, depending on the density of hair, patients may need more sessions for one area.

The session for a small area is around 15 minutes. Patients will need multiple sessions of 15 minutes before the whole area is treated. A session for a medium area is around 30 to 40 minutes while a large area will need 60 minutes. Should you decide to treat multiple areas during one session, it will of course last longer.

How long is a laser session?

Laser hair removal is fairly quick treatment. The procedure will treat up to 20% of hair on the full area per session. This is due to the hair growth cycle and the fact that not all hair is in the right stage of growth. This is why patients will need at least six sessions. To ensure that every single hair is treated.

It is possible that some hair is never in the right phase of growth during the treatment, which is why some patients may need a touch up session. A session for a small area will take 10 to 15 minutes. Medium area sessions take between 20 and 30 minutes while large areas can up to 45 minutes. Combining multiple areas will help save time.

The pain

Is electrolysis painful?

Electrolysis is painful. It does hurt. Everything from the beginning to the end of the treatment will incur some form of pain, discomfort and even hurt. A very fine probe is inserted in the hair follicle after going through the skin. 

The sensation is akin to removing hair with tweezers. Furthermore, it uses direct currents or heat to damage the hair follicle. There will be like a little choc each time a follicle is treated. This will always incur some degree of pain. The sensation of hurt will vary from one person to another since each patient has a different tolerance to pain.

Some areas of the body are more sensitive than others. The legs usually are not that sensitive. The bikini area and face on the other hand are. However, while you would have to suffer through bikini waxes once a month for years and years, the suffering from electrolysis would be much shorter, over just a year.

Does laser hair removal hurt?

While many think laser hair removal hurts, it is actually not true. The sensation felt during laser hair removal is not pain. Of course, once again, pain is subjective and different patients will have a different reaction to their treatment. The area treated will also have an impact. Indeed, the bikini is much more sensitive than the full legs.

Laser hair removal uses heat to damage the hair follicle. The sensation felt is akin to pinching or a rubber band snapping at the skin very fast. Although it may be unpleasant and uncomfortable, laser hair removal is not that painful. Most patients find it very bearable. Should the intensity be too strong, technicians can lower it so that it is less “painful”.

However, compared to waxing, laser hair removal is not painful at all. It is a very quick process, even on the bikini. Patients will be in and out in no time. They will confirm that the pain of waxing is much higher than the pain of undergoing laser hair removal.

Electrolysis vs laser hair removal

Electrolysis and laser hair removal have both their pros and cons. While electrolysis is a permanent hair removal, laser hair removal is a long-term hair growth reduction method. Despite that, a lot of patients will still experience permanent hair removal.

Cost-wise, laser hair removal ends up being cheaper. Simply because as a more popular method, competition is higher and prices generally lower. Furthermore, a lot of clinics and spas will offer deals and packages, making laser hair removal much more affordable.

Waxing is painful. So it is electrolysis. On the other hand, laser hair removal is not. Sure, it is unpleasant and uncomfortable but the sensation is still very tolerable and much easier to handle than with electrolysis or waxing. This will again depend on your own tolerance to pain.

The length of a session and treatment tend to be shorter for laser hair removal than electrolysis. This is because some patients will see results they are happy with after six sessions. Laser hair removal treats 20% of hair during each session over an entire area. Electrolysis will always require more sessions since it treats a small area on a wider area during each session.

To conclude, laser hair removal is faster, cheaper and a less painful method. It is also much easier to arrange and a session can even be scheduled over a lunch break. The main advantages of laser hair removal over electrolysis are the pain felt during the session, along with the cost.

Choose laser hair removal.

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