Body hair removal has been traced back for centuries. The latest in the field are laser hair reduction and electrolysis or thermolysis. Both have gained immense popularity over the last decade, for precisely this reason – they offer long-lasting hair reduction. Both procedures target the hair follicles that are located beneath the skin’s surface, and thus help in minimising and controlling hair growth from its root.
Electrolysis/ Thermolysis is a permanent hair reduction procedure approved and recognised by the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). The hair root is targeted using electric current (Electrolysis) or Radiofrequency (Thermolysis) which is passed through the insertion of a probe into the hair follicle.
Laser Hair Reduction, on the other hand, uses pigment lasers that facilitate targeted action on hair follicles to get rid of unwanted hair. However, there are chances that the hair may regrow, especially if the hair follicle is not destroyed completely, but just damaged during the laser hair reduction procedure. Hence it is referred to ‘long-term’ and not permanent.
But, which among the two is a better option? The answer boils down to the reason you are seeking hair removal. Different reasons for hair removal require different treatments. Here is a list of the most popular reasons and the best option for you.
You require fast hair removal
Laser wins hands down if you want fast hair removal. Both—the total number of sessions and the time of each session—are significantly lesser due to the speed and precision of the laser technology.
Number of sessions
For laser hair reduction, it may take anywhere between four to eight sessions. This of course depends on a number of factors including your skin type, hair colour and thickness, and the body part for hair removal.
This is significantly lesser than electrolysis/thermolysis, which can take anywhere up to 30 sessions and more so in an area where the hair is coarse.
Duration of the treatment
When it comes to the time of each session, again laser has the advantage of being faster. For instance, for small areas such as the upper lip or chin, all you may need is la few minutes, while large areas such as the hands, legs and the back can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.
For electrolysis/ thermolysis, each session even for a small body area lasts anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour.
You prefer painless hair removal
Again, laser is the answer. With laser hair reduction you will experience almost zero discomfort. All you might feel is a warm pinprick or something like the snapping of a rubber band against your skin. Also, most modern lasers come with a cooling device attached. So, you will most likely feel a sensation of cold from the cooling device after each pinprick.
On the other hand, electrolysis/thermolysis can cause some discomfort, such as a stinging or pricking sensation.
You have darker skin or lighter hair
Here, electrolysis maybe the more suitable option, because when it comes to laser, hair colour and skin type can matter.
Laser hair reduction procedures work best on someone who has light complexion with darker hair. This is because a darker hair pigment makes it easier for the laser to target and destroy the hair follicle. Understandably, people with darker skin or lighter hair will need more sessions to see results.
You have very fine hair more like fur
Here too, electrolysis/ thermolysis may work out to be more effective, although the process can be time consuming, and will need an expert hand. However, for thicker hair, the entire process can be very painful, and will also have higher chances of scarring. Generally, this is best recommended for hair left out after laser.
You are worried about the after effects or risks associated with hair removal procedures
Laser hair reduction comes with very minimal risks. The treated area may look and feel sunburned for about a day or two. More serious, but very rare side effects include swelling, redness, blisters (in people with darker skin), or scarring.
With electrolysis, you may experience slight redness for 24 hours. Also, infections from unsterile needles and pigmentation and scars are possible severe side effects.
You want a treatment which requires less downtime
With both procedures, you can resume your normal routine soon after you finish your treatment.
You want hair removal in sensitive areas
It’s possible to treat unwanted hair with laser hair reduction in nearly any area that has hair. This includes even sensitive areas like the armpits, the breast and bikini line.
However, you will not be able to opt for laser treatment for hair reduction on the eyelids or the surrounding area. Also, tattooed skin can’t be treated either. If you require hair reduction in these areas electrolysis is your best bet.
Make your choice based on your reason!
Well, the choice is really up to you! If you are still unsure about which treatment to pursue, consult a dermatologist who will weigh in the pros and cons of both treatments against your skin and hair type and the area of treatment and will help you make the right decision.