Battle of the Wills: Electrolysis vs. Laser Hair Removal

If you have “had it” with excess hair growth and want to get rid of it on a permanent basis, then you are in luck. Two effective hair removal methods (electrolysis and laser hair removal) are commonly used to eliminate undesirable, unsightly and/or overabundant hair follicles. These methods are applied differently, but both yield long-lasting results. If you are wondering what method is best for you – you have come to the right place. This blog will not only give you an idea of what to expect with each method, it will also help you decide which one will yield your desired results.

What is Electrolysis?

Electrolysis is a complex cosmetic procedure that consists of removing hair follicles, one at a time. During this procedure, a small, thin probe is inserted into the skin next to hair that you want removed. A small bolt of electricity permanently damages the root of the hair causing it to fall out. It is important to note that it can take up to an hour to remove hair from small areas of your body (i.e. eyebrows, upper lip, chin, underarms and genital area) and several days to remove hair from larger areas of your body (i.e. upper and lower back, abdomen/upper stomach, legs and arms).

Moreover, you may need additional electrolysis treatments to permanently eliminate excess hair growth. Although rare, there have been cases, in which hair follicles returned over time. This method is highly desirable because it permanently removes hair, regardless of hair or skin color. Although there are over-the-counter home electrolysis kits, this method is most effective when it is performed by a licensed dermatologist with several years of experience.

What is Laser Hair Removal?

Approximately 80 to 90% of the people who opt for laser hair removal experience long-term hair reduction over time. Laser hair removal is a cosmetic procedure that consists of using laser beams to remove hair from your body. The laser beams target large group of hairs instead of individual hair follicles. The intense heat from the laser permanently damages your hair roots, causing the hair to fall out. Although the heat destroys your hair roots, it does not permanently damage your skin. For maximum results, it is best that this procedure be performed by a licensed dermatologist or medical professional.

It typically takes a few minutes to remove hair from small areas of your body (i.e. chin, upper lip, eyebrows, genital area and underarms), but it can take up to three hours to remove hair from larger parts of your body (i.e. upper and lower back, abdomen/upper stomach, legs and arms). It is important to note that in some cases it can take up to seven sessions before you experience significant hair loss. You will receive the maximum benefits if you have fair skin and dark hair, although you can still receive desirable results if you have tan skin and dark hair. You should skip this method if you have fair skin and light red, blonde, grey or white hair because you may not achieve your desired outcome. Fair skin and light hair colors lack the pigments needed to absorb the laser beams, causing the treatment to be ineffective.

What are the Differences?

One of the biggest differences between electrolysis and laser hair removal is that electrolysis, with an adequate amount of sessions, can yield permanent hair loss, while laser hair treatments tend to offer a form of hair reduction. In other words, there is a lower chance of hair regrowth with electrolysis then with laser hair removal. While it is possible to experience permanent hair loss with laser hair removal, it normally takes longer to experience this outcome than it does with electrolysis. Several variables (i.e. number of sessions required, cost per session, skin and hair color and location) should be taken into account before selecting a hair removal procedure.

It is important to note that electrolysis typically costs between $50.00 and $100.00 per hour, while one laser hair removal session may cost you between $350.00 and $400.00, per hour. It is not unusual to require between three and seven laser removal treatments, along with one or two maintenance sessions a year to combat hair regrowth. If you are looking for a way to remove small amounts of hair from your face, underarms and/or genital area then electrolysis is probably be your best option, but if you want to remove a large area of hair from your body, it is more cost-effective (over time) for you to invest in laser hair removal.

References:

Mayo Clinic. (2014). Laser hair removal. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests- procedures/laser-hair-removal/basics/definition/prc-20019438

Patient Guide. (2014). How much does laser hair removal cost? Hair removal cost calculator. Retrieved from http://www.hairremovaljournal.org/laser-cost/

WebMD. (2014). Electrolysis for hair removal. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/beauty/hair-removal/cosmetic-procedures-electrolysis