Laser hair removal and electrolysis hair removal have become popular modalities to achieve smooth skin while avoiding shaving, waxing, and plucking. There are some key differences in the two options that you should be aware of prior to booking treatments.
Laser hair removal is the use of a laser (duh…) to damage hair follicles and create long-lasting hair removal. The number of treatments required to achieve desired results depends on the person‘s hair structure, hair thickness, area of treatment, and genetics in general. It also depends on the type of laser that one is using. Treatments are done every 4-6 weeks until adequate results are achieved and then touch ups are done as needed when you start to notice any hair regrowth. Typically I see people coming back 1-2 times per year for a touch up.
Ideal lasers for laser hair removal are Diode, Ruby, Alexandrite, and ND-YAG lasers. I personally use a Diode laser and tend to adequate results in 6-8 sessions, sometimes fewer. IPL is sometimes used for laser hair removal, but in my opinion IPL is not the best device for hair removal. IPL generally takes 10-12 sessions on average to achieve results and this is because IPL is not truly a laser, it is intense pulsed light. Intense pulsed light does not travel as deep as the above mentioned lasers so it has a more difficult time destroying hair follicles. Another thing to note is that I have had IPL hair removal and it can take a long time (~15-20 minutes for the area of a lower leg) and can be quite painful. The diode laser that I use takes about 3-5 minutes per leg and in my opinion is much less painful. It is not weird to ask which type of device is being utilized for your laser hair removal, and if the the technician cannot give you an answer then quite frankly they probably shouldn’t be using that machine. Less sessions mean less discomfort, time, hassle, and money.
Electrolysis hair removal is another technique used and results in more permanent hair removal. A probe is inserted in the skin at each hair follicle and uses radio-frequency to damage each follicle. The process takes longer than laser hair removal because each individual hair needs to be targeted. So, if you are getting a few hairs removed from your chin, no big deal. But if you are doing an entire leg this can be a lengthy process. In general the cost of electrolysis hair removal may be less per session than laser hair removal, but you will likely need
more sessions for adequate results. I have heard mixed reviews about the discomfort. Some say that electrolysis is more painful, some say it is about the same as laser hair removal discomfort wise but ends up being more painful as it tends to take longer. A major factor to consider is that electrolysis can be used to target lighter hairs and laser hair removal is not a great option for light-colored hairs as the laser “can’t see” them.
In conclusion, laser hair removal is not permanent while electrolysis often is. With the laser hair removal technology out there, after several sessions you should only need a touch up or two per year which is pretty low-maintenance. However, if you are looking for more permanent hair removal and want to commit to more sessions to achieve this, electrolysis may be the way to go.