Laser Hair Removal vs. Electrolysis: Limitations and Advantages
The choice between Laser Hair Removal vs. Electrolysis depends on several factors. Laser hair removal has been primarily limited to people with light skin tone and dark-hair, since the success of the procedure depends on the ability of the laser to selectively heat the melanin within the hair follicle without damaging the surrounding tissue. Darker skin types can sustain permanent damage in the form of bleaching and the lasers simply aren’t able to effectively heat and thus destroy lighter colored hair.
These restrictions are gradually being overcome as newer lasers are being developed that can effectively work with darker skin tones, but only if the hair color is still darker than the skin. The ability of lasers to permanently remove hair has always been called into question and since the procedure is still relatively new there is little longitudinal data to contradict this perception, but its growing popularity suggests that eventually this perception will also fall victim to gradual improvements in the technique.
When compared to laser hair removal, electrolysis seems primitive. With this technique the hair follicle is essentially electrocuted by a small electric current passing from a wire-thin electrode inserted into each hair follicle, thereby creating enough damage to prevent further growth. Since each hair follicle must be treated individually the technique is quite tedious and sessions take longer than with laser treatment.
Laser hair removal is less painful than electrolysis and the overall cost may be less depending on how large an area needs to be treated. The duration of the treatment period may also differ significantly, with Laser hair removal only requiring 5 to 6 sessions over a 6 month period and electrolysis requiring significantly more sessions over a period lasting up to 4 years.
Notably, electrolysis is the only technique approved by the FDA for permanent hair removal and can work with any skin or hair color combination. The choice between Laser Hair Removal and Electrolysis therefore depends on skin and hair color, the cost and duration of the treatment regimen, the patient’s ability to tolerate pain, and concerns over the permanence of hair removal.