Electrolysis vs. Laser Hair Removal: Which is the Preferred Permanent Solution?

Close-up of Ideal Image YAG laser performing Laser Hair Removal treatment on dark skin for female client’s legs.

Did you know that more than 22,000 Americans search for hair removal solutions every month? That means that practically every other minute, someone with unwanted body hair takes to Google to find the end-solution for their never-ending problem. If you’re one of these 22,000 people, you’ve likely heard of both electrolysis and Laser Hair Removal as permanent solutions.

But which of these hair removal procedures reign supreme? We’ll give you a hint: Electrolysis involves the invasive insertion of wire into the surface of the skin — dozens of times, for at least a dozen treatment sessions. Laser Hair Removal involves highly-targeted pulses of light that cover a much wider treatment area over significantly fewer treatment sessions.

If Laser Hair Removal sounds like the safer, more pleasant option to you, you’re probably right. However, if you need a bit more convincing to choose between electrolysis and Laser Hair Removal, you’ve come to the right place. Take a look at the pros and cons of electrolysis and Laser Hair Removal, from treatment goals to all-in cost.

What is Electrolysis?

Electrolysis is FDA-approved as a permanent hair removal procedure. During an electrolysis treatment session, a trained electrologist — who is typically a dermatologist — inserts a thin wire or needle into an individual hair follicle. The wire or needle, called a probe, sends an electric current throughout the follicle to damage it so future hair growth cannot occur.

There are two types of electrolysis: galvanic and thermolysis. Galvanic electrolysis is the original form of the procedure, which uses a direct electrical current to generate a small electric charge that kick-starts a chemical reaction at the hair follicle. Thermolysis electrolysis is the more modern approach, which uses an alternating current to generate heat that destroys the follicle.

Electrolysis procedures are extremely time-consuming, as individual hairs must be targeted one at a time. In other words, electrolysis is only effective if the probe is inserted into every single hair follicle you want removed (which takes quite a bit of time for large treatment areas). An electrolysis probe may also leave small scabs on the surface of the skin that can scar over time.

What is Laser Hair Removal?

Laser Hair Removal is another FDA-cleared hair removal solution that can directly target the source of hair growth beneath the surface of the skin. Fortunately, Laser Hair Removal technology doesn’t need to physically puncture the skin to reach the hair follicle. Instead, Laser Hair Removal procedures use highly-concentrated light energy to target multiple hair follicles at once.

During a Laser Hair Removal procedure, the administrator — who is typically a registered nurse, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant — will use a handheld laser to emit pulses of light over the treatment area. The concentrated light ultimately renders the hair follicle incapable of producing more hair, thus preventing new hair growth in the future.

While there is no set number of hair follicles that can be treated with each pulse of light, Laser Hair Removal can cover a significant amount of skin in a much shorter treatment time. Likewise, a number of new types of laser continue to be introduced to the market. For instance, the GentleYAG© laser has been specifically crafted to improve hair removal results for patients with dark skin.

Ideal Image only uses the best lasers in the industry including the GentleYAG© laser for dark skin tones and the Alexandrite laser for hair removal on Caucasian to olive skin tones.

Electrolysis vs. Laser Hair Removal: Which is Better for You?

Since both electrolysis and Laser Hair Removal are FDA-approved and FDA-cleared respectively for eliminating unwanted hair, it can be tough to decide which is the best option for you. Here’s a rundown of electrolysis vs. Laser Hair Removal to help select your treatment type.

1. Process and Safety

Every method of permanent hair removal will incur a slight bit of discomfort — but the keyword here is slight. Electrolysis is typically compared to a stinging or pricking sensation, which is understandable when you consider the fact that each hair follicle has to be poked by a probe. Unsterile probes inserted into the skin can be the cause of severe infection and scabbing.

Laser Hair Removal is compared to a rubber band lightly snapping against the skin. The treatment duration of Laser Hair Removal is typically less than 30 minutes, where electrolysis can take up to 1 hour to complete. So, not only may you experience more pain with electrolysis vs. Laser Hair Removal, but the discomfort will also last for a longer period of time.

2. Ease of Hair Removal

If you’re looking to get rid of unwanted hair, chances are, you’ve waxed or tweezed in the past. This is no problem for Laser Hair Removal (just don’t wax or tweeze before your appointment because we need the follicle intact!). However, waxing and tweezing can cause the hair follicle to become bent or misshapen, which can make inserting an electrolysis probe difficult.

3. Treatment Area Goals

Both Laser Hair Removal and electrolysis can be done just about anywhere on the body; however, lasers are not recommended for the eye area whereas electrolysis can be used by the eyes. In terms of the treatment area, Laser Hair Removal is better suited for large areas like the back, chest, bikini area, arms, and legs. Lasers can cover wide areas much faster than electrolysis ever could.

4. Number of Treatment Sessions

The number of treatment sessions required to permanently remove hair does vary between each individual. Generally speaking, Laser Hair Removal requires four to eight sessions depending on your skin type, hair type, and the size of the treatment area. In comparison, electrolysis requires anywhere from 15 to upwards of 30 sessions for desired results.

When it comes to electrolysis vs. Laser Hair Removal, electrolysis will land you in the dermatologist’s office bi-weekly or every week to achieve optimal results. In comparison, there’s normally a four to six-week gap between appointments for Laser Hair Removal. Hair typically begins to fall out within one week and full results can be seen three weeks post-treatment.

5. Final All-In Cost

A single electrolysis treatment session typically costs less than a single Laser Hair Removal treatment session. However, you may need double or even triple the amount of electrolysis vs. Laser Hair Removal sessions to achieve desired results. So, if you’re looking for a financially-friendly option, speak to a Aesthetic consultant to personalize a treatment plan that fits your needs.

The winner between electrolysis vs. Laser Hair Removal is clear. Now, the only question is, when will you schedule your Laser Hair Removal appointment? Click below to schedule your complimentary Laser Hair Removal consultation in-office or online.

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