Let’s face it: the constant shaving, waxing, and plucking of unwanted body hair is annoying and expensive. That’s why so many people turn to the two most popular hair removal procedures – laser hair removal and electrolysis. But which one is the more permanent hair removal method? Which one is cheaper and less of a hassle? Below, we break down the details of laser hair removal vs electrolysis.
If you’re tired of putting so much time, money, and effort into shaving, call the Med Spa at Silhouette Plastic Surgery Institute today. We will help you figure out which hair removal treatment is best for you and your body. Call 949-359-8397 to schedule an appointment today.
What is Laser Hair Removal?
Laser hair removal treatments remove unwanted hair from various parts of the body through highly concentrated light energy. Most people undergo a laser hair removal treatment to stop hair growth on their:
- Bikini line
- Upper lip
- Lower back
- “Happy trail” on the lower stomach
- Face (but not around the eyes)
How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
Laser hair removal works through something called “selective photothermolysis.” In other words, the melanin in hair absorbs intense light energy from the laser. From there, the light energy turns into heat which will then destroy hair follicles.
This laser treatment works best for people with dark hair and a light skin tone, although people of all skin and hair types can benefit from this hair removal technique. The reason why dark hair is the best for this treatment is because it has the most melanin. Light hair colors – such as blonde, gray, red, or white – don’t have much melanin, so the laser isn’t very effective at destroying the hair follicles.
Additionally, the combination of dark hairs and light skin is ideal because of the contrast in color. Dark skin has much more melanin than light skin, so there is always a chance that people with darker skin tones can suffer from skin irritation or damage from high heat lasers. Still, that doesn’t mean that people with a dark skin color cannot benefit from laser hair removal treatment. Be sure to discuss whether or not you’re a good candidate with a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon.
How Many Sessions Does Laser Hair Removal Take?
In order to reap the most benefits from laser hair removal, it’s best to undergo 4 to 8 treatments over the course of a year. It’s best to schedule these appointments a month apart. That’s because hair follicles go through different hair growth phases at different times, especially if you shave regularly. One hair follicle may be completely destroyed by the laser while another hair follicle is merely damaged. Therefore, you may see hair growth even after your first session, even if it’s much slower than before.
It’s best to think of laser treatment as a semi permanent hair removal method because even after several sessions, you will still have some hair growth, but it will just be very light and slow. Many people need at least one annual treatment to completely prevent new hair growth.
Benefits of Laser Hair Removal
Listed below are the benefits of laser hair removal:
- Works for most skin types with dark hair
- Works on every part of the body, except for the skin around the eyes
- Slows down (or eliminates) unwanted hair growth after several sessions
- Little to no recovery time
- The cosmetic procedure is fairly quick, especially if you’re treating a small area of the body
Risks and Side Effects of Laser Hair Removal
Just like any cosmetic procedure, laser hair removal comes with its own set of risks and side effects including:
- Skin irritation and/or redness
- Skin burns and/or blisters
- Skin infections
- Hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation in the treatment area
- Herpes outbreaks around the mouth or genitals
Most people do not experience severe side effects from laser hair removal, however, it’s important to have informed consent before undergoing any type of treatment. Seeing a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon for all cosmetic procedures can reduce your risk of major side effects.
Laser Hair Removal Cost
The average cost of laser hair removal is $389 according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. This price tag can vary greatly depending on your geographic location, the size of the body part you’re treating, and your healthcare provider’s experience. Additionally, it’s important to remember that you will need to undergo multiple treatments for the best results. So if you schedule the minimum recommendation of 4 sessions in your first year, you’ll likely be spending well over $1,000.
It’s also important to remember that health insurance will likely not cover the cost of laser hair removal because it’s considered an elective procedure. The only way that health insurance might cover this treatment is if you can prove you need it to treat some medical condition, such as hirsutism, hypertrichosis, or PCOS, all of which cause excessive hair growth.
What is Electrolysis?
Electrolysis is another popular hair removal method that has existed for more than 100 years. As of now, electrolysis is the only FDA approved method for removing unwanted hair. Electrolysis works for:
- Facial hair
- Back hair
- Armpit hair
- Fingers and toes
- Bikini line
How Does Electrolysis Work?
This is how the electrolysis method works: a healthcare provider will insert a very fine needle (the needle is usually thinner than a strand of hair) into an individual hair follicle. The needle will carry an electric current under the skin which will destroy individual hair follicles – or cause existing hairs to fall out – therefore preventing future hair growth.
How Many Sessions Does Electrolysis Take?
Similarly to laser hair removal, the average person must undergo several electrolysis sessions in order to reap as many benefits as possible. This is due to the same reason: each hair follicle goes through a different hair growth phase at a different time. Electrolysis may destroy some hair follicles while only damaging others, resulting in future hair growth.
Electrolysis sessions must be scheduled every week or every 2 weeks for best results. Most people undergo frequent electrolysis sessions for up to a year and a half.
Benefits of Electrolysis
Listed below are the benefits of the electrolysis method:
- Permanent hair removal once you complete a certain amount of sessions
- Works for all skin and hair types, even people with light colored hair
- Can be done on any part of the body
- The procedure is fairly quick, especially if the treatment area is small
- Little to no recovery time
Risks and Side Effects of Electrolysis
Possible electrolysis side effects include:
- Skin irritation and/or redness
- Skin infection
- Tenderness and pain in the treatment area
According to a site called RealSelf – where plastic surgery patients discuss the details of their procedures – electrolysis costs an average of $425 per session. Because this hair removal treatment also requires several sessions over the course of a year, the price can definitely add up.
Similarly to laser hair removal, health insurance will generally not cover electrolysis hair removal because it’s considered an elective procedure. Again, unless you can prove that you need this treatment for a legitimate medical condition, health insurance will likely not cover it.
What is More Effective: Laser Hair Removal or Electrolysis?
Laser hair removal and electrolysis are both safe and effective ways to eliminate hair, but which one is better?
Firstly, electrolysis is still the only hair removal method endorsed by the FDA. That doesn’t mean that laser treatment is any less safe, but still, it’s something to keep in mind.
Secondly, if you’re looking for permanent removal of hair, electrolysis may be the way to go. Both hair removal methods require several sessions to obtain desired results, but once you’re done with all your electrolysis sessions, you will likely never produce hair in the treated area again.
Meanwhile, laser hair removal doesn’t remove hair permanently, even after all those sessions. It will drastically slow down hair growth so that you only need to shave (or undergo another treatment) every year, but you will still be able to produce hair. Laser hair removal will also make new hair growth very light colored and thin, so that when body hair does grow, it’s barely noticeable.
In order to achieve permanent hair removal through electrolysis, though, you will have to go through far more sessions and potentially spend far more money compared to laser hair removal. To some people, this is simply not worth it. Additionally, some patients on RealSelf have claimed that electrolysis is more uncomfortable than laser hair removal.
It is best to ask a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon which procedure will truly be best for you and your body.
Call the Med Spa at Silhouette Plastic Surgery Institute Today
If you’re ready to eliminate unwanted hair forever through laser hair removal and electrolysis, call the Med Spa at Silhouette Plastic Surgery Institute today. We are passionate about helping our clients feel like their most beautiful and confident selves. Call 949-359-8397 to schedule an appointment today.