Laser Hair treatment Vs Electrolysis : What’s the difference ?


Laser hair removal is a method of removing hair by exposing to pulses of laser light which destroys the hair follicle by traveling down the shaft of the hair and causes delay in the consequent hair growth. It is an extremely targeted treatment that does not affect the skin around. The high beam light destroy the hair follicle and a hair cannot grow from it as the light energy is converted to heat which destroys the tube-shaped sacs below the skin surface that produce hair. As soon as melanin (pigment) in hair is targeted, the laser beam burns the hair follicle and all the way down the root.

Apart from laser hair removal, electrolysis is another popular type of long-term hair removal method that disrupts hair growth.

Electrolysis is generally done by a certified dermatologist. The process is based on the principle of inserting an epilator device into the skin. It uses shortwave radio frequencies in the hair follicles to hamper new hair growth. This damages the hair follicles to prevent any further growth and also cause the existing hair to fall out. Individual hair are targeted, repeated hair by hair on the desired area

Both are commonly practiced in many beauty and cosmetic clinics. A lot of research in terms of technique evolution has been done in the past decade.

Today, they have become highly effective and efficient method of hair removal and beautification, and are used widely. Both have gained popularity because of its seamless process and effectiveness, although some of it is dependent upon the competency of the person carrying out the process. It is said to be the only treatment of its kind that comes close to full claim of permanent, long lasting hair reduction as it acts on the hair deep in the follicle, as compared to other treatments of hair removal that cut the hair follicle mid-shaft. This technique has been in practice since the year 1997, and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a ‘permanent hair reduction’ in the United States.

The basic principle of this hair removal technique is based on selective photo-thermolysis, wherein a particular wavelength of light and pulse to on the targeted tissue with least effects on other adjacent tissue. The pigment in the hair follicles absorbs the light and that causes the hair destruction.

Unlike laser hair removal, electrolysis is claimed by the U.S. FDA as a permanent solution. It is highly recommended for a licensed, board-certified dermatologist or electrologist should perform the procedure, as it involves inserting a probe into the hair follicle and sending an electric current through it. The results are backed as permanent because of hair follicle destruction, which means that damaged hair follicles do not have the potential to grow into new hair. Results are not apparent in a single session, especially if it is being done on a larger area like back or in an area that has coarse hair growth like the pubic region. As per the experts, most people who opt for electrolysis, need follow-up sessions once in a week or twice in a week to achieve best possible results (100% elimination of hair). Once all the hair in the desired area is removed, no more further treatments are required, including maintenance sessions, unlike in laser hair removal method

The cost for this method depends on the size of the body part being treated and number of follow-ups needed. It costs less with each visit, but one may end up having more sessions as compared to laser therapy.

Electrolysis can be done at home using epilators, but there are not as effective as professional devices and the machines are regulated by FDA for safety standards

Benefits of Electrolysis

  • In addition to producing more permanent results, it is pretty much flexible. It not only helps to inhibit new hair growth, but also is suitable for all skin and hair types; unlike laser hair removal method which does not yield best results for gray and blonde hair. Electrolysis works on cells within the hair follicles and does not rely on the pigment which is the working principle in laser method; making it a viable option for all types of complexion
  • Electrolysis can also be used in any part of the body, for instance the eyebrows
  • There is hardly any after care involved. Though the skin may feel irritated or appear red, this settles in few hours after the session. Sometimes, antibacterial cream may be required on treated areas.

Side effects

  • Some kind of minor side effects are likely, but they are only for a transient period, most common being mild redness due to skin irritation
  • One of the other downside could be an infection and scars from unsterile needles used during electrolysis. To minimize this risk, getting it done from a board-certified dermatologist is advisable
  • It is considered more painful than laser hair removal method

The difference

Both laser hair removal and electrolysis give promising results compared to conventional hair removal methods like shaving, waxing, tweezing. Out of the two, electrolysis is better because the final yield is more permanent. It comes with fewer side effects and risks and one does not need any maintenance sessions for keeping the hair growth in check, unlike in laser. The flipside is that electrolysis is spread out over multiple sessions and it cannot cover large areas at once like the laser technique can. Laser hair removal is very quick, especially in smaller areas. Laser technique requires at least 6 to 8 sessions for good results, whereas in electrolysis, the best results are generally seen after 15 or more sessions (though it depends on one’s hair and skin type) because our skin has multiple follicles for each hair, and dormant follicles can start to grow in between two sessions. The largest difference between electrolysis and laser hair removal is the number of sessions required. Electrolysis is a bigger commitment than laser method. Depending upon the area to be treated and the type of hair and skin, some people may require as many as 30 sessions for completed hair removal

As it is rightly said that everything comes with a price, beauty comes with pain. Both laser and electrolysis are kind of painful. Laser removal feels like a burning rubber band being snapped against the skin. Every person has a different pain threshold, but the ones with thicker and darker hair undergo more discomfort. Electrolysis, although less painful, it is described as a stinging and pricking sensation, similar to getting a tattoo done. If done incorrectly, it can lead to skin discolouration. Electrolysis is said to be more effective in getting rid of fine facial hair, irrespective of the colour of the skin and hair.

Laser hair removal vs Electrolysis comparison chart :

Laser Hair Removal Electrolysis
Hair removal process Light pulses cause localized damage to hair follicle by selectively targeting the melanin content in the hair follicle A thin metal probe is inserted into a hair follicle without puncturing the skin, electrical energy pulse is delivered causing the hair to fall out
Uses Works best on dark hair on light skin Can be used on any skin or hair colour
Sessions Usually 6 to 8 sessions spaced out over 4 to 8 weeks apart. Sessions last between 15 to 60 minutes depending upon the size of the desired area Usually 15 to 30 sessions spaced out over 1 to 2 weeks apart. Sessions last between 15-90 minutes depending upon the size of the desired area
Cost 200$ to 500$ for the entire treatment 800$ to 1000$ for entire treatment
Pain Less discomfort. A mild snap and heat sensation with each light pulse Mild discomfort with pinch and prick sensation during treatment
Results and effectiveness Near to permanent hair reduction. Some hair regrowth is seen and may require maintenance sessions for maintaining the hair growth Complete hair removal
Side effects Itching, redness, scabbing and scarring around the treated areas Redness, swelling, dry skin
Conclusion Best suited for permanent hair reduction of dark hair on small and large areas. Fewer sessions and shorter treatment time required Best suited for permanent hair removal on small areas of the body. Ideal for all skin and hair colours. Longer session and treatment time required

To choose between the two:

If one has a light skin with dark facial hair, then either of the options can be considered. Laser hair removal could be a better choice if one is okay with most of the hair removed or the hair being finer and lighter. If one has a lot of light hair to be removed or wants the best possible chances of getting permanent hair removal, then electrolysis is the option to think upon.

Both are considered clean for long term skin health. Electrolysis is considered more painful as compared to laser hair removal and it may require more session than laser method, but each session is cheaper than laser technique.



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