There are two options available to you if you’re looking to permanently remove your unwanted body hair: electrolysis and laser hair removal. While both of these techniques are highly effective, they also differ quite a bit in what they accomplish, how they get the job done, and which areas of the body each one can target. Read on to learn more about each option and how they stack up against each other.
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How does laser hair removal work?
Unlike shaving, with either of these methods, your body will be treated at its root—using an electric current or a beam of light to disable hair-producing cells in your follicles. A professional will carefully insert tiny needles or a thin probe into each follicle. The method that’s better for you depends on how much of your body needs treatment and how quickly you want results.
Benefits of laser hair removal
Longer-lasting results: Laser treatments are designed to tackle all of your hair follicles at once. The idea is that a single session will permanently remove all of your unwanted body, back, or facial hair. That’s why you may be able to go longer between sessions than with other methods (though not as long as permanent solutions). Cost: Electrolysis has a reputation as being more affordable than laser treatments, but prices can vary widely by region and practitioner.
Benefits of electrolysis
It’s permanent. Laser hair removal can only be done a few times in your lifetime. Each time, it can only remove hairs in its previous treated area. Electrolysis, on the other hand, permanently destroys each of your follicles, so no more unwanted hair will grow there again. That said, laser hair removal is still an excellent choice if you want to get rid of some or all of your facial hair but don’t want to commit to a long-term solution.
Does it hurt?
Both laser hair removal and electrolysis can be quite painful, but in different ways. Laser treatment can leave burns or blisters on your skin, but it also gets rid of all of your body’s hair at once. Electrolysis causes a steady tingling sensation as each individual hair is zapped. Because an electrologist targets only a few hairs at a time, there may be more treatments involved than with laser.
What about skin color/tattoos/scars/etc.?
Both methods will work on all skin types. However, scars can make removing hair more difficult. If a scar has affected your ability to remove unwanted body hair, talk to a physician before making your decision on what method of treatment is best for you. Laser vs. Electrolysis: The Basics in Hair Removal Electrolysis (or thermolysis) removes single hairs by inserting a tiny needle into each follicle and applying an electric current that destroys it from within.
How many treatments will I need, and how often should I go back?
You will want to go back about once a month until there are no longer any hairs. The exact number of treatments needed varies from person to person, but on average, it takes about 6-12 treatments to clear an area with coarse, dark hair. If your skin and hair are very sensitive, or if your desired treatment area is small (like your upper lip), these numbers could be higher. On areas with fine or blonde hairs—like legs—the process can take less time.
When should I start seeing results with laser hair removal or electrolysis?
Laser hair removal treatments take anywhere from four to eight sessions to complete. Most patients start to see results after a few treatments, but it may take as many as 10 or 12 visits before all unwanted hair has been successfully removed. Electrolysis works a little bit differently; usually, three or four sessions are required in order to remove each strand of hair. Results can be seen in just three weeks, but it may take up to 12 weeks before all unwanted strands have been removed.