Electrolysis vs Laser Hair Removal

How is electrolysis different from laser hair removal?

Electrolysis differs from laser hair removal in a variety of ways.
Electrolysis differs from laser hair removal in a variety of ways.

1. Definition

  • Electrolysis: This is a method of hair removal in which an electrical current is sent through a hair follicle. The current will damage the follicle and prevent hair growth.
  • Laser hair removal: This is a method of hair removal in which a laser (a concentrated beam of light) is used to remove unwanted hair.

2. Number of sittings needed

  • Electrolysis: Because hair growth occurs in cycles, several sessions of electrolysis are needed for getting permanent hair removal.
  • Laser hair removal: Around six treatment sessions are needed from a dermatologist to completely destroy the hair follicles. The hair, however, grows back thinner and finer after each treatment session. In the case of use-at-home laser hair removal, a much longer series of laser treatments is needed to get the results. The use-at-home laser has to be used periodically to maintain the results.

3. Whether hair removal is temporary or permanent

  • Electrolysis: This removes unwanted hair permanently.
  • Laser hair removal: Hair removal is permanent except for a woman’s facial hair.

4. What color hair can be removed

  • Electrolysis: This technique works on all hair types, including the light-colored hair that cannot be removed by laser hair removal.
  • Laser hair removal: This does not work on blonde, white, gray or red hair. This is because lasers cannot effectively target light-colored hair.

5. People having which skin color can go for the treatment

  • Electrolysis: This can be done for people who have various skin colors. People with darker skin, however, are at a risk of developing a raised scar called a keloid.
  • Laser hair removal: This can be done for people of all skin colors. Laser hair removal is most effective for people with light skin and dark hair. For hair removal for people of color, the person performing the procedure must have experience performing laser hair removal on those who have darker skin tones. People with a tan must go for laser hair removal after the tan has faded away.

6. Downtime

  • Electrolysis: There is no downtime. People can resume their everyday routine soon after treatment.
  • Laser hair removal: There is no downtime.

7. Side effects

  • Electrolysis: Side effects of electrolysis include the following
    • Pain during the treatment due to the electrical current flow. The person may feel a stinging sensation each time a hair is removed.
    • Skin may become temporarily red, swollen and tender after the treatment.
    • There may be scarring of the skin or formation of raised scars called keloids. This is more common in people who have darker skin color.
    • There may be changes in skin color at the treatment site in some people.
    • In inexperienced hands, electrolysis may lead to burns.
    • There may be skin or blood infections if unsterile probes are used for electrolysis.
  • Laser hair removal: Most of the side effects of laser hair removal are minor and last for no more than one to three days. They include
    • Discomfort during and after the procedure
    • Swelling of the treated area
    • Redness of the treated area

If the procedure is performed by an experienced dermatologist or under their direct supervision, other side effects are very rare.

The less common side effects of laser hair removal include 

  • Formation of skin blisters
  • Cold sores or herpes simplex outbreaks
  • Infections
  • Scarring
  • Lighter or darker skin on the treated part (change in skin color may be temporary or permanent)
  • Sun sensitivity

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