Electrolysis vs Laser Hair Removal: Key Differences & Benefits

Table of Contents

Published on Apr 25, 2024 By: WIFH Staff

Is Laser Hair Removal the Same as Electrolysis?

Laser hair removal (LHR) and electrolysis are both common medical procedures for cosmetic hair removal.

But laser hair removal and electrolysis are not the same — laser hair removal is faster, more affordable, and less painful than electrolysis. Laser hair removal uses a high-heat laser to remove unwanted hair, and electrolysis removes individual hairs using an electrical current.

While laser hair removal has many advantages over electrolysis, not every patient is a candidate for laser hair removal. Sometimes, electrolysis is a viable alternative.

We will cover the differences between these two hair removal procedures, including treatment length, aftercare, results, and cost.

What is Electrolysis?

Electrolysis is a hair removal technique that uses an epilator device to disrupt hair growth. During the procedure, a dermatologist or trained technician inserts a small probe into a patient’s hair follicle, destroying it with an electrical current. This process is repeated for each individual hair follicle. After the procedure, the existing hair will fall out — many sessions are needed to achieve hair removal.

Today, electrolysis is a lost art — the invention of laser hair removal has made it a less desirable treatment. However, there are still reasons to choose electrolysis over laser hair removal. People who are not candidates for laser hair removal may be candidates for electrolysis.

For example, patients with very light or grey hair won’t see good results with laser hair removal because their hair follicles don’t have enough pigment. Electrolysis will remove these light hairs and can even be used after laser hair removal to remove a mix of dark and light hairs

Individuals with dark skin tones should be cautious if they are considering electrolysis because it can sometimes cause hyperpigmentation spots. Electrolysis isn’t recommended for those taking Accutane until at least three months after they finish the medication.

What Is Laser Hair Removal?

Laser hair removal is a medical procedure that uses a concentrated wavelength of light (laser) to target hair follicles in the skin. The laser damages the hair follicle while avoiding damage to the patient’s skin. Laser hair removal patients will need a series of treatments to achieve the best results.

Most people are candidates for laser hair removal — the procedure works best for patients who have dark hair. However, the laser can be adjusted to treat different skin and hair types, including some patients with blonde and red hair. However, individuals who want to remove very light blonde or gray hair are usually not laser hair removal candidates because their hair is too light for the laser to safely target. A laser hair treatment professional can help determine whether you are a candidate.

In addition, individuals who are currently taking Accutane are not candidates for laser hair removal until at least three months after they’ve completed the medication. Those who have ever received gold injections for arthritis can never use LHR for hair removal.

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What’s the Difference Between Electrolysis and Laser Hair Removal?

Electrolysis and laser hair removal both remove unwanted hair, but the treatments do so in different ways.

Electrolysis removes individual hair follicles using an epilator device that sends an electrical current into the follicle, while laser hair removal uses a laser to target and damage hair follicles.

Electrolysis vs Laser Hair Removal Treatment Length

Laser hair removal is faster than electrolysis because it targets the hair follicle without inserting a probe into the patient’s skin. With electrolysis, a probe is inserted into each hair follicle, greatly increasing the treatment time.

Electrolysis sessions usually last between 30 minutes to 1 hour per session. If you’re removing hair from large areas like the legs, these sessions will last longer than an hour.

With laser hair removal, treatments take 15 to 30 minutes, with some treatments, like the armpit, lasting only a few minutes. Larger areas, like full legs, typically take 45 minutes.

Electrolysis vs Laser Hair Removal Aftercare

When it comes to aftercare, electrolysis treatments require more than laser hair removal.

Professionals recommend these aftercare steps for 48 hours after electrolysis:

  • Apply aloe vera gel and witch hazel to the treated area using a clean, damp cotton wool to prevent redness and irritation.
  • Do not pick at any spots or scabs that may appear after treatment.
  • Avoid using any fake tans, perfumes, and perfumed body lotions.
  • Avoid direct sunlight or tanning beds. However, if you must go outside, apply a sunscreen of at least SPF30.
  • Avoid saunas, hot tubs, hot baths, steam treatments, and swimming.
  • Do not apply makeup to treated areas.
  • Avoid working out and sweating.

One benefit of laser hair removal is there’s little to no aftercare. After treatment, patients can immediately go to the gym and put makeup on. Some patients may experience light irritation and redness after the procedure, but this typically disappears after a few hours.

If patients are concerned about irritation, they can put an aloe vera lotion on the treated area. Patients should avoid tanning beds immediately after laser hair removal, but they can be in the sun if they wear SPF30+ sunscreen.

Patients should not pluck, tweeze, wax, or thread any remaining hair between electrolysis and laser hair removal sessions.

Electrolysis vs Laser Hair Removal Results

Most people will see very similar results with either electrolysis or laser hair removal. Both hair removal treatments require multiple sessions and ongoing maintenance to maintain long-term results.

While patients will never achieve 100% hair removal with laser hair removal (or any hair removal treatment, including electrolysis), laser hair removal reduces the number of hair follicles by 75% to 90%, and the remaining hairs grow back finer in thickness and lighter in color. Typically, patients need eight total sessions over 6-week intervals.

Electrolysis gets rid of around 35% of hair follicles per session. For the treatment to work, your hair needs to be in its growing phase, so most patients return every 3 to 4 weeks for the next session. While the number of treatments varies per person, most people need between 10 and 18 sessions to see long-term results.

Electrolysis vs Laser Hair Removal Cost

The cost for electrolysis and laser hair removal varies depending on the provider, size of treated areas, and amount of sessions. However, laser hair removal is typically more affordable than electrolysis.

Plus, some medical spas, such as WIFH, offer laser hair removal pricing packages to help reduce the price per session.

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Which is Better: Electrolysis or Laser Hair Removal?

For most people, laser hair removal is better than electrolysis because it’s faster, cheaper, less painful, and requires less downtime. However, not everyone is a candidate for laser hair removal, so electrolysis is still an effective hair removal procedure.

The best permanent hair removal treatment for you depends on a few criteria:

Schedule a Laser Hair Removal Consultation in Atlanta With WIFH

Are you trying to decide whether electrolysis or laser hair removal is best for you? Our staff at WIFH are here to help.

We have over 90+ years of laser hair removal experience on staff. Our doctors and medical team will assess your skin and recommend the best procedure to help you achieve the hair removal results you’re looking for.

Schedule a free consultation today to learn more and make an informed decision.

Regan Kudlata, RN, MSN, FNP-C

Regan Kudlata is a licensed Family Nurse Practitioner and a Senior Cosmetic Laser Practitioner licensed by the Georgia Composite Medical Board. Regan has more than 20 years of laser experience in laser hair removal, tattoo removal, skin rejuvenation, treatment of veins and skin lesions, IPL and SculpSure at WIFH. She also holds an advanced injector certification and has more than 18 years of experience with Botox and dermal fillers.