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Laser Hair Removal vs Electrolysis: What’s The Difference?

Laser hair removal and electrolysis are the two most effective, widely used methods for lasting hair removal. When you think about the amount of time and money you’ve spent removing hair over your lifetime, permanent hair removal starts to compare pretty favorably in terms of cost and effort. Laser hair removal and electrolysis both produce long-lasting effects

What is Electrolysis:

Electrolysis is a cosmetic procedure for removing undesired hair. Its technology consists of a thin metal probe that delivers a low-level electrical pulse to each ready-to-go hair follicle and stops new hair growth. In contrast, Laser hair removal uses specific wavelengths of light. It targets the melanin in dark hair follicles in a specific area, not individual follicles.

During a treatment, an electrologist inserts a tiny probe into the follicle without puncturing the surrounding skin. Once inserted, the probe delivers an electric current in the milliamperes range to the skin tissue. The electrical current irreparably damages the follicle, allowing the hair to come out of the follicle easily, and removing the ability of the follicle to produce hair in the future. Electrolysis is capable of eliminating white and blonde hair exceptionally effectively. In contrast, removing hair with minimal pigment can be increasingly difficult with laser hair removal, particularly when treating tanned skin.

Advantages of electrolysis

Electrolysis has the following advantages:

  • Permanent: Electrolysis is the only FDA-approved method of permanent hair removal.
  • Versatility: According to the American Electrology Association, electrolysis is effective for people with any skin type, skin color, hair type, and hair color. Electrolysis is suitable for any area of the body — including the eyebrows.
  • No recovery time: People can resume their daily activities immediately after the procedure.
  • Maintenance-free: There is no need to schedule an annual electrolysis session — once the hair has been removed no more treatments are necessary.
  • No harsh chemicals: Unlike with laser hair removal or hair bleaching, electrolysis does not require the use of chemicals on the skin.

Disadvantages of electrolysis

Although there are many benefits to electrolysis, there are some risks and drawbacks to consider:

  • Several sessions: If larger areas are being treated with electrolysis, such as the legs or back, it can take several long sessions to achieve permanent results. Also, removing coarse hair, such as from around the bikini line, requires more sessions. Some people may require up to 30 treatments.
  • Discomfort: People undergoing electrolysis hair removal may experience some pain and discomfort. It may help to take a pain reliever before treatment and to apply ice following the session.
  • Potential for adverse effects: These include scarring in rare cases or infection from unsterilized needles. These risks highlight the importance of only using a board-certified dermatologist.

What is Laser Hair Removal:

First thing first, here is a reminder of how the procedure works. Even though laser hair removal treatments are more and more popular, an aura of mystery still revolves around them, which may make it scary for many prospective patients. However, laser hair removal is very safe and the best way to reduce hair growth in the long term. So, how does it work then?

Laser hair removal uses a machine producing a beam of light energy that targets pigments in the hair. The energy will travel through the hair to the hair follicle where it turns into thermal energy. Then, the heat damages the hair follicle, ensuring that no new hair grows there. This is essentially how laser hair removal treatments reduce hair growth.

The reason why treatment is done over a few sessions is the hair growth cycle. Indeed, laser hair removal works only on hair that is in the anagen phase of the growth cycle. It is indeed the only time where the hair connects to the hair follicle. In the other two phases of growth, the hair does not touch the follicle, breaking the point of contact allowing the light energy to get to the follicle. Since 20% of all your hair is in the anagen phase at all times, only 20% of your hair will be successfully targeted by the laser, explaining why you need several sessions.

The right preparation is key to ensuring the success of your laser hair removal sessions. Although we have a blog post breaking down the steps you must take, remember to always shave prior to your appointments. Long hair increases the chances of burning and scarring. It also means that less energy is getting to the hair follicle.

Advantages of laser hair removal

Some of the benefits of laser hair removal include:

  • Precision: The lasers quickly target coarse, dark hairs.
  • Speed: Laser pulses take just milliseconds, and can treat several hairs at once, which means that small areas can be treated in just minutes.
  • Lighter growth and color: New hair growth tends to be less dense than before, and the new hair is often a few shades lighter than the original hair.
  • Efficacy: Many people see long-term results after 3 to 8 sessions.

Disadvantages of laser hair removal

Laser hair removal is not suitable for everyone, and there are some risks involved. Its main disadvantages include:

  • Not suitable for all coloring: The laser works best on people with light skin and dark hair because the laser targets dark colors.
  • Risk of adverse reactions: Some of the more undesirable side effects of laser hair removal can include discolored skin, swelling, skin redness, blisters, and scarring. However, some of these resolve within hours of the treatment.
  • Photosensitivity: Lasers can increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight (photosensitivity); so direct exposure to the sun must be avoided immediately after the procedure. People having laser treatment should avoid sunlight for 6 weeks before treatment to prevent discoloration of the tanned skin.
  • Dangers of numbing products: According to the FDATrusted Source, the use of skin-numbing products in laser hair removal has led to reports of serious and life-threatening side effects that occurred after individuals applied a numbing agent to large areas of the body.

in conclusion, both laser hair removal and electrolysis treatments provide a long-term solution to unwanted hair growth.

All things considered, despite being a slower method of hair removal, electrolysis is more versatile, and permanently removes hair. It also typically causes fewer adverse reactions.

Those considering long-term hair removal treatments should speak with a skincare specialist about the best options for their needs.

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