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

Laser hair removal or electrolysis

After trying waxing, shaving and depilator creams, which do not provide any long-term results and can have negative side effects, you are looking for a permanent hair removal method. You need a long-term solution and we got you. There is nothing more unpleasant than dedicating a lot of time to hair removal. Fortunately, there are two well-known permanent hair removal methods available: laser hair removal and electrolysis. Now, we need to know the pros and cons for each to decide which procedure to undergo. Laser hair removal vs electrolysis is on.

Laser hair removal vs Electrolysis

1. What is laser hair removal?

The procedure

The laser produces a beam of light that targeted the hair pigment. The heat produced by the laser will slide through to the hair follicle, damaging it. The heat will cauterize the blood vessel feeding the follicle. This is possible only when the hair is in the anagen stage of the hair growth cycle since the hair must be attached to the follicle for the treatment to work. Since only 20% of your body hair will be in the anagen phase at any point in time, the laser hair removal will be able to target those 20% only. This explains why you need several sessions.

Patients should always shave prior to their laser hair removal appointment. As a matter of fact, the light pulse will target and heat up the long hair instead of the follicle, which may incur burning or scaring and increase pain. The technician will apply a gel to help the laser head slide easily over the area. They will also adjust the intensity of the laser to the skin tone, thickness and color of hair. Today's laser technology allows laser hair removal to work on all skin colors and types. Communication is key here so patients must always tell whether the laser is too hot.

Laser hair removal has no downtime, however there still are some precaution to take after the treatment. Avoid shaving the days after, do not wax, avoid direct sunlight and apply SPF on the treated areas. Although, laser hair removal is not painful, the sensation is not pleasant either. Patients will come back for a session every six weeks or so. Although most people see satisfactory results after six sessions, some patients may need up to ten sessions.

Laser hair removal will damage the hair follicle sufficiently to reduce hair growth. Although the treatment will reduce hair growth to up to 90%, it will not eliminate unwanted hair forever. The hair may grow back, especially if you go through an intense lifestyle or hormonal change, like pregnancy.

The pros and cons

Laser hair removal is a fairly new method of hair removal. It is a very popular one and a great alternative to other hair removal methods such as waxing and shaving. However, like any hair removal methods, it has pros and cons that will impact your decision.

The pros of laser hair removal:

-Speed: Laser hair removal is a very quick treatment. Each area will need more or less time. However, due to the quantity of pulses produced by the laser in just milliseconds, and the size of the laser head, areas can take just minutes. For reference, armpit laser hair removal will take five minutes.

-Versatility: Laser hair removal can be done on any area of the body, except the eyes. Anywhere you may want to remove hair, you will be able to. Laser hair removal also do not have downtime so you may resume your daily schedule after each session.

-Lighter growth: Laser hair removal contribute to reducing hair growth by up to 90%. It may not eliminate hair permanently. However, the hair that will grow between sessions or that may pop out after the end of the treatment, will always be much thinner and lighter than the original hair.

-Efficacy: The number of sessions required to remove unwanted hair around an area will depend on each person, their hair texture and color, their skin color, etc. However, most people see long-term results after three to eight sessions.


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The cons of laser hair removal:

-Adverse reactions: It may happen that laser hair removal produces undesirable side effects such as hyperpigmentation, discolored skin, redness, blisters and scarring. However, if the technician does their job properly and the patient listens to their advise, side effects such as hyperpigmentations can be avoided. Patients must not stay in the sun immediately after a treatment.

-Photosensitivity: Direct exposure to the sun before a session can reduce the effectiveness of the procedure and increase risks of burning due to tanning. Direct exposure to the sun after a session can incur sunburns, skin discoloration and hyperpigmentation.

The cost

Laser hair removal is a cosmetic procedure to insurance companies and is thus not covered. The misconception is that laser hair removal is very pricey. It does seem like it actually is when you consider the short-term investment. However, in the long term, the cost is not as high as expected. We covered extensively in a previous post how waxing and shaving would both in the long term become more expensive than laser hair removal.

Patients need to see laser hair removal as a long-term healthy skin investment. Furthermore, they are ways to make the treatment more affordable. No need to be very creative. Even though you can buy sessions individually, laser hair removal clinics usually sell packages of six sessions. Buying a bundle decreases the price of each individual session. For example, one session of Brazilian costs $300 (excl. tax) but six sessions will costs $1000 (excl. tax).

Patients can also sign up to newsletters like ours, to be kept updated of seasonal deals, promotions and special packages that may help decrease the price of the treatment. Infinity Laser Spa also offers the opportunity to pay in four installments with Quadpay, thus making it easier to afford laser hair removal.

2. What is electrolysis?

The procedure

As opposed to laser hair removal, electrolysis is not light pulse-based. It uses electricity to remove unwanted hair. Electrolysis is for now the only hair removal method endorsed by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for permanent hair removal.

Electrolysis involves using an electric current which will pass through the hair follicle, thus damaging it and preventing any further growth permanently. The process works by inserting an ultra-thin needle into the follicle. Electrolysis is a permanent hair removal method which requires such a high level of accuracy, since it targets just one hair follicle at a time, that only a licensed processional, like a dermatologist, should perform it.

As opposed to laser hair removal where consultation are not mandatory before to the first session, patients must schedule a consultation with the dermatologist prior to their session. It is important that the dermatologist is aware of any health issue and medical history. The procedure itself involves placing an ultra-thin needle into the targeted hair follicle. An electric current passes through the probe, killing the hair root.

Just like laser hair removal, electrolysis requires very little aftercare. There is no downtime to electrolysis. Patients may experience irritation which should be gone quick. Electrolysis works on all skin colors. However, because the needle will target each hair follicle one by one, each area will take a considerable amount of time to complete.

The pros and cons

Electrolysis is a fairly old method of hair removal, having been performed since the mid-1800s. Doctors and researchers have then been able to study its impacts and potential side effects, thus guaranteeing its results. This is why it is for now the only FDA-endorsed permanently hair removal method. Yet, it still has its pros and cons.

The pros of electrolysis:

-Versatility: Just like laser hair removal, electrolysis works on any area of the body, on any skin type or color and on any hair type or color. Electrolysis is even suitable for the eyebrows. It also has no downtime and requires very little after treatment maintenance.

-Permanent: Electrolysis is the only permanent hair removal method so far endorsed by the FDA as such. Even though you will require several sessions per area, once the hair follicles are all damaged, no hair will ever grow back.

The cons of electrolysis:

-Length of treatment: Electrolysis targets each follicle one by one with an ultra-thin needle inserted into the skin. A session for a small area may already take time while a large area such as legs or back will take an incredible amount of time to be done with.

-Discomfort: The procedure involves a needle going through the skin and an electric current jolting through to their hair follicle. This action is repeated for every single hair on the targeted area. Patient will experience discomfort and/or pain. The sensation is like stinging somewhat akin to plucking.

-Side effects: Other side effects of electrolysis may include ingrown hair, scaring, redness, swelling, skin discoloration and permanent skin damage.

The cost

Just like laser hair removal, electrolysis is a cosmetic procedure and will not be covered by insurances. The cost per electrolysis session goes around $45 for a small area. It may seem much cheaper than a laser hair removal session. However, it is not. An electrolysis session is not priced per area, but per the length of each session.

For example, a 30 minutes session can come to $45, which may be enough for a small area like the upper lip or underarm. However, large areas like full legs will require more time. Patients must keep in mind that they would require more sessions of electrolysis than they would with laser hair removal, thus making the total cost higher.

3. Which hair removal method is the best?

We are getting to the end of this laser hair removal vs electrolysis challenge. Which hair removal method is the best? Both laser hair removal and electrolysis are great solutions if you are looking for a long-term solutions to unwanted hair growth.

Electrolysis is a slower and more expensive method of hair removal although it does remove the hair permanently. Laser hair removal on the other hand is much quicker and also cheaper but it will only reduce hair growth to up to 90%. You may also need a touch-up session once a year.

What hair removal method a patient chooses is up to them, their schedule, personal preferences, their wallet as well, etc. You may find it helpful to book a free consultation with a specialist prior to making any decision in order to get more information and figure out which method of hair removal works best for you. Although we think we gave a pretty good argument in this laser hair removal vs electrolysis fight for each method, is is always up to the patient to choose and do their own research.

Maybe checkout information on Depilatory Creams?

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