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Laser Hair Removal vs Electrolysis


If you are looking for a long term solution to unwanted hair, there are a number of options to choose from. Two of the most popular procedures include laser hair removal and electrolysis. Electrolysis is the older of the two treatments, but it fell out of vogue when laser procedures were introduced for this purpose. However, the FDA's categorization of electrolysis as a permanent method of hair removal has helped this procedure regain popularity once again. So which hair removal method is the best for you?

Electrolysis was first used at the end of the 19th century to remove ingrown eyelashes. This method of hair removal begins by inserting a needle into the hair follicle and destroying the follicle with chemical or heat energy. The hair is removed by forceps and additional hair will not grow back in its place. Electrolysis utilizes a variety of methods:

  • Galvanic Electrolysis – Uses a chemical reaction to destroy the hair follicle
  • Thermolysis Electrolysis – Radio frequencies create heat to destroy the follicle
  • Blend Electrolysis – Uses a combination of the two to ensure all hair follicles are sufficiently destroyed

Electrolysis can be used to treat any area of the body, except the hairs inside the nose. However, the tediousness of the procedures lends itself better to smaller areas. Electrolysis works well on any skin type and hair color, and is considered to be a permanent solution to hair removal by the FDA. The procedure is done in the office of a medical professional and may take anywhere from one hour to several hours to complete. Some patients are given a topical anesthetic for comfort during the procedure, but many do fine without any anesthesia.

Laser Hair Removal:
Laser hair removal is a relatively new procedure compared to electrolysis, with the first laser treatments successfully performed in 1983. However, the constantly evolving technology continues to put laser hair removal at the forefront of cosmetic procedures, with new, more effective tools used for this purpose all the time. Laser hair removal uses a concentrated beam of light to target the dark pigment in the hair, known as melanin. The laser damages the hair follicle so that current hair is removed and more hair cannot grow in its place.

Most medical professionals, including the FDA, consider laser hair removal to be a permanent solution for unwanted hair growth, just like electrolysis. However, laser treatment usually requires more sessions than electrolysis and does not work on everyone. The best candidates are those with fair skin and dark, coarse hair. Laser hair removal does not work well for those with blonde, light brown or light red hair. Like electrolysis, this procedure is done in the office of a medical professional. The procedure can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour to complete. Topical anesthetic can be used, but many patients find they do not need any anesthesia during the procedure.

Which One Should I Choose?
The decision on professional hair removal treatments will probably boil down to a number of factors. These might include:

  • Cost – Both laser hair removal and electrolysis costs can be relatively high, but the additional time spent in electrolysis usually means this treatment comes with a higher price tag. However, laser hair removal may need to be repeated every few months or years, raising the cost of the procedure to maintain the results.
  • Treatment Area – The size of the treatment area will also factor into your decision. If you are removing a significant amount of hair, laser hair removal will be able to handle the job much more efficiently. Both treatments work well on all areas of the body, including sensitive areas like the face, bikini line and pubic region.
  • Skin Type – Laser hair removal tends to work better on patients with fair skin. While the procedure can be done on darker skin tones, patients with darker complexions may get better results with fewer risks when they use electrolysis.
  • Hair Color – Because lasers target the melanin in the hair, this procedure typically doesn't work well on white, blonde, light red or light brown hair. Those will lighter hair color might want to consider electrolysis for their hair removal needs.

To make your final determination as to whether laser hair removal or electrolysis is best for your hair removal needs, you can schedule a private consultation with a hair removal specialist in the Hair Removal Forum national network. Contact us today to get started!

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