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Laser Hair Removal Vs Electrolysis: Which is Better?

Electrolysis patient

Unwanted body hair is a source of irritation for both men and women. At-home methods of hair removal such as shaving and depilatory creams are effective in the short-term but require significant upkeep to maintain the results. Spa options like waxing and threading last longer, but the cost of regular treatments quickly adds up.

Many individuals come to the Vein Care Center seeking a better solution. Two of the most popular procedures are laser hair reduction and electrolysis, both of which reduce or eliminate unwanted hair by causing localized damage to the follicles and preventing future hair growth. Both are safe and effective procedures that can be used to treat a variety of areas and require multiple session to achieve optimal results.

How are they different and which treatment is most likely to give you the outcome you want? Learn more about your options at the VCC below.

Laser Hair Removal: What to Expect

Laser hair removal, as the name suggests, uses a laser to impair or prevent hair follicles from producing new growth. At the proper wavelength, the laser penetrates the skin and targets the pigment, called melanin, within hair follicles. The follicles are disabled when the pigment absorbs the laser’s energy. Surrounding skin and tissue remain intact and undamaged.

To prepare for laser hair reduction, do not tan or use self-tanning products for four weeks before your appointment and avoid treatments that may irritate the skin (waxing, depilatories, etc.) for one to two weeks prior. Shave the area 24 to 48 hours before your session. Do not wear makeup on the day of your treatment.

During the session, the laser equipment will be calibrated according to the thickness, location and color of the hair we will treat as well as your skin tone. A hand-held laser apparatus will be pressed against your skin. A cooling device integrated into the tip of the instrument or a cooling gel may be used to protect the skin and reduce the risk of side effects. You may feel some discomfort, but it is usually minor. Many compare the feeling of the laser to the snap of a rubber band.

After the procedure, you may experience some redness and swelling, but this should resolve in a day or two. The treated hairs will shed over the course of the next one to three weeks. Since hair growth is cyclic, a series of treatments is required to deliver maximum hair reduction. You will see fewer and fewer hairs return with each successive treatment. On average, five to 10 treatments are needed per area to achieve optimal results.

Laser Hair Removal: Pros and Cons

Why do some patients prefer laser hair reduction? It can be done on nearly any area of the body with no downtime. The laser is extremely precise and can treat several strands at once, meaning larger areas can be covered more quickly and small regions can be completed in just minutes. Most people do not experience significant discomfort. Laser hair reduction is highly effective, typically resulting in more than 50% reduction in hair.

When might laser hair reduction not be the right choice? Though it’s often thought of as “permanent” hair removal, you may not experience complete elimination of all hair growth. It’s possible that some hair will resist treatment or will regrow after treatment (though the new hair may be lighter in color and finer). Touch-ups may be necessary to address new hair growth that appears over time.

The contrast between skin tone and the color of the pigment in the hair follicle is what allows the laser to target the correct area. Because of this, laser hair reduction is most useful for patients with fair skin and dark hair and can be less effective for patients with darker skin tones. Laser hair reduction is also less effective and may be completely ineffective, on hair that’s blonde, grey or white.

Electrolysis: What to Expect

Electrolysis delivers a small amount of electrical current directly into the natural opening of the hair follicle via a fine, sterile probe or needle. Three different types of electrolysis are used today: galvanic (which uses chemical energy to destroy the follicle), thermolysis (which uses heat energy to destroy the follicle) and a modality that blends the two. Each follicle is treated individually.

Preparation for electrolysis is minimal. To obtain optimal results, shave or trim between sessions, leaving hair ¼ inch long at the time of your procedure, and do not wear makeup to your appointment.  During electrolysis, the probe will be inserted into the skin one follicle at a time. An electrical energy pulse is delivered to the follicle to halt its growth capabilities, and the existing hair is removed. Pain tolerance varies widely between patients. Some find the stinging and pricking sensation of electrolysis mild, while others experience more severe pain or discomfort.

You will likely experience redness and swelling for the first day or two after treatment. The area may also temporarily bruise, break out or scab. As with laser hair reduction, multiple electrolysis sessions are needed to remove hair permanently. Most clients schedule treatments once a week or every other week until they have achieved their desired results.

Electrolysis: Pros and Cons

Once a hair has been removed, no more treatments are necessary. This unique benefit makes it an excellent option for patients seeking complete prevention of hair growth. As it does not target the pigment in the follicle, it is safe and effective for many different hair and skin types. People who are not good candidates for laser can still undergo electrolysis.

Side effects can occur, but they are typically minor and short-lived. Electrolysis may require more sessions than laser hair reduction before treatment is complete, and because each follicle is treated individually, each session may last longer. Some patients find electrolysis to be the more painful of the two procedures.

Making the Decision

The choice between laser hair reduction and electrolysis ultimately comes down to which procedure will be most effective in your circumstance. The most important consideration is your hair color and skin tone. Laser hair reduction is often better for dark hairs, while electrolysis is better for lighter hairs. Electrolysis may also be preferable for darker skin tones. Other considerations include your pain tolerance, the number of sessions you’re able to commit to, and whether you’re seeking hair reduction or permanent hair removal. Whatever your needs, we’re here to help, with both procedures available at the Vein Care Center. To determine which is the right treatment for you, call us at 419-227-4472 to schedule a consultation.

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