The Real Difference Between Laser Hair Removal And Electrolysis

If you've chosen to remove hair from your legs, underarms, and other body parts, chances are you've at least thought about laser hair removal or electrolysis. While you can shave, use depilatory cream, wax, sugar, tweeze, or thread (via One Medical), it all gets tedious after a while. The cost also adds up. If you shave, American Laser Centers reports that it could cost you more than $10,000 over your lifetime, which is a shocking number. It's not surprising that you might look for a more permanent solution to save not only money, but also time. 

The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery notes that in the United States, laser hair removal is more popular than electrolysis (via Medical News Today). Both laser hair removal and electrolysis target hair at the follicles, and some people use the terms interchangeably. However, the procedures are different, in terms of who they're best for and the long-term outcome. Only one option offers permanent hair removal, while the other requires touchups a few times a year.

How laser hair removal differs from electrolysis

Laser hair removal, as the name suggests, involves using a laser to damage the hair follicle, which results in less growth. Rachana Jani, MD, a physician in New York City, told One Medical that laser hair removal has some downsides. "It's often billed as permanent, but there will be some fine hair regrowth," she said. Because it isn't permanent, you might need touchups depending on your hair growth. The procedure also has some limitations because it's not suitable for every skin type (via Medical News Today). Laser hair removal works best for people with light skin and dark hair because the laser targets dark colors. Some people experience photosensitivity after treatment, and the numbing agent could cause adverse reactions if used in large quantities. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) endorses electrolysis as the only permanent hair removal treatment. A technician uses a thin probe to pass an electrical current through the hair follicle to destroy it and stop the hair from growing. It's suitable for all skin and hair types. The dangers include possible infection from an unsterile probe. Both laser hair removal and electrolysis require multiple sessions to achieve the results you desire. 

Trained professionals should perform both hair removal methods. To discover which one is the best for you, schedule a consultation with a dermatologist and discuss the pros and cons of both.