LASER HAIR REMOVAL VS. ELECTROLYSIS: AN ONGOING DILEMMA

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Regular shaving, waxing and tweezing for unwanted body hair removal can become tiring, which is why most people are now turning towards more permanent hair removal methods; namely laser hair removal and electrolysis that target hair follicles under the skin’s surface. However, choosing the right option can be confusing, so here is a comprehensive analysis of both procedures to aid you in the decision-making process:

Laser Removal:

The target areas are exposed to high-heat lasers which significantly damage hair follicles in order to decelerate hair growth. While producing long-lasting effects as opposed to other hair removal methods, the treatment is not permanent and requires multiple treatments for best results. Just make sure to pick the right dermatologist and have the procedure performed only by trained professionals.

Pre-Treatment and Safety Measures:

Prior to the procedure, hair in the target region is trimmed close to the skin, after which the laser is adjusted according to hair and treatment area color and thickness. A cold gel is applied over the treatment area for added protection, along with eye protection. Some people might also be given a topical anesthetic.

Pros:

  • The procedure can be performed anywhere on the face and body; except the eyebrows, as the laser might damage the eyes.
  • The standard time-limit for one sitting is 15-30 minutes for effective hair removal, as laser pulses take milliseconds to treat several hair follicles at once.
  • Little to no recovery time is required, and schedules can be resumed straight after treatment.
  • The treated hair will continually grow back finer and lighter with each session.
  • Long-term results are visible after only 3-8 sessions on average.
  • Ideal for removing hair larger areas of the body, such as legs or the back within minutes.

Cons:

  • Blisters, inflammation, swelling, irritation, discoloration, redness and swelling are some of the common side-effects of the treatment and can last longer than a few hours, often requiring immediate medical attention. Rare side-effects include scarring, skin texture changes and stimulation of hidden facial hair growth in women.
  • Since the laser beams target melanin (a pigment responsible for hair and skin darkness) around the hair follicle’s base, it is only suitable for people with fair skin and dark hair. Dark skin or lighter hair color can increase the chances of burns and skin discoloration.
  • Laser treatment can only inhibit hair growth, with results lasting for a maximum of 2 years.
  • Direct sun exposure must be limited post-procedure, along with required sunscreen usage to prevent sunburns. Some specialists also recommend avoiding direct sunlight for 6 weeks prior to the procedure to prevent pigmentation variation.
  • Approximately 8 follow-up treatments every 6 weeks, yearly or bi-annual maintenance treatments and occasional shaving is required even after complete treatment.

2-Electrolysis:

An electric current is passed through an ultra-thin needle, or probe, that is inserted into each individual follicle at a time, damaging its growth ability, after which the hair is plucked out using tweezers. Like lasers, multiple treatments are required for best results. The health and medical history of a patient are discussed prior to a treatment to determine its suitability.

Pros:

  • Since it destroys the hair follicles, electrolysis is the only certified treatment for permanent hair removal. Moreover, no follow-up maintenance treatments are required after the full course.
  • It is suitable for all hair colors and skin types, and can also be used safely for eyebrow hair removal.
  • Aside from slight redness and irritation, which usually fades within a day, and rare cases of swelling and continued pain, the treatment poses no risks.

Cons:

  • Use of unsterilised needles can cause serious infections and scarring.
  • Since electrolysis targets singular follicles, required sessions can reach up to 30. Moreover, smaller areas require 15-30 minutes, while larger areas, like legs, require an extended time and sessions; with thicker, coarser hair requiring even longer.
  • Almost 20 seconds are required to deactivate each follicle, produce sharp stinging and prickling sensations. Pre-surgery oral painkillers and ice application over treated areas can aid in pain relief.
  • Not all treated hair follicles are destroyed in one go. Hence, the damaged follicles might become clogged, resulting in ingrown hair.
  • Patchy, discolored areas may be formed in some people with dark or sensitive skin.

The Final Verdict:

You must first choose whether you require permanent reduction or permanent removal, and define your time constraints. Moreover, people with high pain sensitivity might choose laser removal. However, electrolysis might be the only option for dark-skinned or light-haired people. Whatever you choose, remember to discuss its suitability with a dermatologist and have the procedure performed only by trained professionals to avoid skin damage and other risks.

If you are considering laser therapy or electrolysis, consult a professional. At oladoc, you can find a Dermatologist in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, and seek confirmed appointments. Moreover, you can also call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 and seek the best appointment.

About the Writer:

Yashfa Marrium is a freelance writer and health enthusiast. You can reach her at [email protected]

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.