Electrolysis or Laser Hair Removal? How to Make the Right Choice

Getting rid of unwanted body hair can be a chore, but shaving and waxing aren’t your only options with today’s permanent hair removal options. 

Hair removal procedures including electrolysis and laser hair removal procedures can help you get rid of facial and body hair for the long-term, allowing you to forego conventional hair removal methods for good.  Electrolysis and laser hair removal treatments work by destroying the hair follicle so that hair growth slows down, but in most cases, the laser is not as targeted or precise as electrolysis. 

How do you choose between these innovative laser hair removal treatments?  Here are some things to consider when you’re reviewing your options:

What are the Benefits of Electrolysis?

Electrolysis is a convenient and effective way to get rid of unwanted facial and body hair, and is an FDA-approved hair removal technique.  There are three types of currents that can be administered to the skin:  galvanic electrolysis, thermolysis and a ‘blend’ of both. 

Key benefits of electrolysis include:

  • Precise and targeted treatment
  • Little or no downtime
  • Helps create a smooth and natural appearance
  • Can remove hair from anywhere on the body, including eyebrow shaping

What are the Drawbacks of Electrolysis?

It’s important to remember that electrolysis will only slow down the rate of hair growth, so you may still need to shave and wax the treatment area – only less frequently.  Some drawbacks of electrolysis include:

  • Some pain involved – electrolysis can be slow and painful, and may require frequent visits to the doctor’s office to keep up with your treatment program
  • High cost – it can cost $30 - $50 an hour for each treatment session, and you may need up to 30 treatments in order to completely destroy the hair follicle
  • Uneven results – since electrolysis only catches hairs that are in the middle of their growth cycle, you may see new ‘croppings’ of hair in areas where new hair begins to grow at a later date
  • Not good for sensitive skin – electrolysis uses heat energy to break down the follicle, and this can affect sensitive skin tissues and cells

What are the Benefits of Laser Hair Removal?

One of the biggest benefits of laser hair removal treatments is the number of sessions required in order to see results.  Most people will achieve noticeable results within 1-2 treatments, and this can keep costs of hair removal low overall.  Other benefits of laser hair removal include:

  • Relatively pain-free – most people do not feel the laser entering the skin
  • Mild side effects – temporary redness and light swelling may be experienced
  • Convenient treatment plans – you can be in and out of the doctor’s office within an hour, and start to see results the very next day
  • Can treat large areas of the body – unwanted back hair, hair around the chest or coarse leg hair can all be managed with laser hair removal procedures

What are the Drawbacks of Laser Hair Removal?

Since laser hair removal treatments are not as targeted as electrolysis, they do present some drawbacks such as:

  • Risk of damaging vision - if the laser is administered near the eye area and other parts of the face, there is a risk of retinal damage
  • Potential for burns – the laser treatment is powerful enough to cause burning of the skin if it is not administered correctly
  • High potential for skin damage for facial hair removal – since the laser is less-targeted than electrolysis, it does run the risk of burning and scarring delicate facial tissues You may be a good candidate for electrolysis when you want to get rid of stubborn hair in the facial area. 

Laser hair removal is ideal for larger treatment areas such as the back, legs and arms, and is especially effective at removing patches of dark or coarse hair.

Learn more about hair removal treatments in our information guide, or consult with a hair removal specialist in your area for various treatment options.