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Is Electrolysis Better than Laser for Hair Removal?

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Dr. Hardik Soni

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When choosing to get unwanted body or facial hair removed, it is important to know which method works best. For most patients, the choices for permanent hair removal comes down to electrolysis and laser hair removal. But which works better?

Is electrolysis more effective than laser hair removal for permanent hair removal? Both treatments target and destroy the hair follicles beneath the skin. While electrolysis is the only solution that the US FDA calls permanent, the downside to this treatment is that it has difficulty covering larger areas at once, requiring quite a few sessions for similar results to laser hair removal.

The Main Differences Between Laser Hair Removal and Electrolysis

Both procedures achieve laser hair removal through hair follicle elimination, but they use different means of doing this. Laser hair removal uses high-heat lasers to send mild radiation beneath the skin. This radiation comes in the form of laser heat energy, which travels down the individual hair strands and into the hair follicle from which they grow, thus destroying the hair follicle.

Electrolysis also disrupts hair growth by destroying or damaging the hair follicles. Instead of using lasers, electrolysis uses shortwave radio frequencies. During the electrolysis treatment, an epilator device is inserted into the skin which sends out shortwave radio frequencies, causing damage to the hair follicles that permanently disrupts hair growth.

Benefits: Laser Hair Removal

  • Popularity and Choices: Laser hair removal is a very flexible treatment, as there are an entire range of laser devices that can be used for various skin and hair tones. As laser treatment has grown significantly in popularity over the last few years, there are more and more available options for people who choose to get laser hair removal done.
  • Flexibility: The laser treatment can be performed on all parts of the body aside from the eyes.
  • No Recovery Time: Patients can have laser removal done and return to their daily routines immediately. There is no recovery time as there is very little to no pain involved during the procedure.
  • Semi-Permanent: While new hairs can grow after the procedure, they will be much thinner, finer, and lighter than before. Dark hair will end up being lighter, particularly against light skin.

Benefits: Electrolysis

  • Permanent Results: Unlike laser removal, which requires follow-up and maintenance treatments once or twice a year to keep best results going, this is the only procedure that has been backed by the US FDA as a permanent hair removal solution.
  • Versatile: This is a very versatile procedure, as radio frequencies are typically safer than lasers (although lasers are also extremely safe when administered by trained professionals). While laser removal isn’t advisable for the eye area, electrolysis can target areas such as the eyebrows if desired.
  • Flexible on All Types: Only recently has laser removal technology been able to target patients of all skin tones and hair tones, by development of new and more advanced lasers. With radio frequency technology, electrolysis doesn’t have difficulty adjusting to patients of various skin tones and hair tones.

Disadvantages and Side Effects: Laser Hair Removal

When done by a trained, professional team, laser removal is a completely safe and risk-free procedure. In some cases, patients may expect the following:

  • Inflammation
  • Blisters
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Pigmentation changes
  • Irritation

Other disadvantages of laser hair removal include:

  1. Not a Permanent Solution: If you are seeking a completely permanent solution, laser removal might disappoint. While laser removal can target a large majority of the hair in the treated areas, it is difficult to totally accomplish this without maintenance and follow-up laser treatments once or twice a year.
  2. Skin Texture Changes and Scars: In very rare cases, particularly when the procedure is performed by an inexperienced team, patients may experience scars and skin texture changes on the treated skin.

Disadvantages and Side Effects: Electrolysis

Like laser hair removal, electrolysis does have some minor side effects such as skin irritation, swelling, pain, and redness, although these typically go away after a day or two. In some severe cases, patients can experience scars and infection, particularly when the procedure is done with unsterile needles.

Other disadvantages of electrolysis include:

  • Painful: Patients who have experienced both laser removal and electrolysis typically report electrolysis to be noticeably more painful than laser removal. The electrolysis procedure involves inserting a fine probe into the patient’s individual hair follicles and jolting these probes with an electrical current to destroy the follicles. This sensation can be compared to the stinging of a tattoo; some doctors recommend taking pain relievers prior to the procedure.
  • Smaller Coverage, More Treatments: While laser removal can treat large areas of the body in 30 minutes to an hour, electrolysis requires significantly more time. This is because the treatment is much more delicate, with a probe for each individual hair follicle. This leads to smaller coverage per treatment and a greater number of treatments that last longer. In some cases, patients may expect up to 30 treatments of electrolysis to cover an entire large area.

In Conclusion: Is Electrolysis a Better Hair Removal Procedure than Laser Hair Removal?

If your only concern is the permanence of your treatment, then electrolysis is a better procedure. However, the advantages of electrolysis seem to end there.

At Ethos Spa, we recommend laser hair removal for the following reasons:

  1. Requires significantly fewer sessions, thus ending up costing less than electrolysis overall
  2. Significantly less painful than electrolysis, with patients describing the laser zaps as a rubber band snap
  3. Results may not be as permanent as electrolysis results, but annual maintenance laser treatments take very little time and are easy to do
  4. The individual sessions are much quicker than electrolysis sessions
  5. Technology now works for people of all light skin and dark hair tones, depending on the types of lasers your chosen clinic is equipped with

For ease, cost, personal safety, and time, laser hair removal is a more convenient hair removal solution than electrolysis, despite the permanent results that electrolysis can boast. Be sure to discuss with your chosen doctor on which procedure would work best for you.

Ethos Spa: Learn More About Laser Hair Removal Today

To learn more about laser hair removal, schedule your consultation at Ethos Spa today. Located in Summit, New Jersey, we are the premier destination for laser hair removal and other skin and laser treatments in New Jersey. Put a stop to unwanted hair growth today.

Book your appointment on our website today, and achieve the hair removal goals that you have been waiting for.

Read more: Does Laser Hair Removal Work If I Have Blonde Hair?

Dr. Hardik Soni

MD, Founder/Lead Physician

About Dr. Hardik Soni

Dr. Hardik Soni is the founder and Medical Director of Ethos Aesthetics + Wellness. His primary focus is on minimally invasive and non-invasive cosmetic procedures including botulinum injection (Botox and Dysport), dermal fillers (Juvederm, Restylane, Radiesse), laser hair removal, chemical peels, and laser skin rejuvenation. Dr. Soni believes in a more conservative approach and his first goal is education. Clients are able to determine the ideal treatments after discussion with Dr. Soni regarding the expected outcomes, cost, as well as risks.

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