Electrolysis vs Laser removal

Electrolysis vs Laser removal

i have been thinking for some years about getting permanent hair removal on my upper thighs/bikini area (nightmare at the beach/hottub etc ). Quite seriously, it has been ruining my life for 15 years, and i now live in california, and fiind it embarrassing and impossible to wear shorts and bikinis over the summer months, and i am sure there are many out there who fully understand without me going into boring detail.
now, as at a time of my life where i can finally afford to get (some?) treatment, i am even further confused.
dont misunderstand. Andrea’s site is amazing, informative and helpful, but i WAS under the impression that Laser treament was the most effective for long term removal, and now i am not so sure, and am grateful for having found this site before rushing off to my local Clinic, which i was on the verge of doing.
can anyone out there with experience of either laser AND/OR electrolysis give me some advice. i will be grateful for ANY feedback at all.

in YOUR personal experience:

  1. what treatment are you having/had (laser/electrolysis)?
  2. what body area is this for?
  3. how long (months or years) have you been treated for?
  4. how many actual sessions have you had?
  5. how much have you paid so far?
  6. how many treatments do you anticipate needing to reach, say, 90% hairfree?
  7. how much more money do you consider you will realistically have to spend to be happy?
  8. do you consider yourself a success story?
  9. do you consider your treatments a waste of time and/or money?

thanks everyone


Hi skippy–

If you have a lot of thick dark hairs, you may find laser is a quicker fix. It may get all hairs for several months or more, and anywhere from one-third to two-thirds permanent reduction is usually possible (sometimes more, sometimes less).

Electrolysis takes longer, but if done properly will probably result in more permanent removal than laser. Electrolysis is often reported to hurt more and be a little more tedious, but it’s less likely to cause side effects like skin color change and patchy regrowth.

You’ll find people here who have tried both and like one or the other better, but it comes down to your own specific needs. If you take a lot of sun, you should be extra careful with laser, for instance. If I were a good laser candidate (which I’m not), I’d probably do a few passes with laser, followed by electrolysis on the regrowth.

The most important aspect is often practitioner skill, no matter which method you choose.

Andrea & Skippy, this is my first visit to the site and like many others, it’s part of the investigative work I’m doing on whether to laser or to ‘electrolocize’ myself. This is a great site, Andrea! :stuck_out_tongue: You are so knowledgeable and generous in your advice and feedback, so thank you first off.

I’m also trying to determine which method of hair removal to pursue and appreciate your Q & A in this area.

Something that would help me is if someone who’s been doing laser treatment for 5+ years could give some feedback on their experiences. I’m getting the sense that laser treatment may yield greater immediate results, but may not last for the long haul.

I’m in no hurry, I just want minimal scarring, discoloration and long term results (I tend to scar dark). However, if there are people out there who have good long term results from lasers, I’d like to hear about that!
Thanks much!

ummm I think Andrea answered your question.

go for laser and when you see a hair poppin outta your skin, zap it yourself carefully

only zap it yerself if u can reach it and know what yer doin.

by the sounds of u u don’t know how to zap yerself so call up yer local elecroid and have them do it

I have had laser treatments for 3 years. I only get treatments during the winter so I have had plenty of opportunity to observe regrowth. I ave had about 5-10% regrowth on my chest and 10% on my back. After I finish treatments for the season any regrowth that is going to occur will do so in about two months. There has been absolutely NO regrowth after that.

It seems like some electrologists like to bash laser saying that lasers don’t work and offer no long term hair reduction at all. Well, I beg to differ.

Each method has it advantages and disadvantages. Electolysis works on all hair and skin types, and for small areas is probably the better option, but it it PAINFULLY SLOW. You’re treating one hair at a time so it’s going to take awhile to do a chest or back. Laser is quicker, but doesn’t work for everyone, but IT DOES WORK and can do much larger areas in a given time period. But you can’t user laser on all skin and hair types.

My practitioner does both laser and electrolysis. For dark hair and light enough skin, laser is the best option. For others they recommend electrolysis. And they tell you that up front.

I have some stubborn hairs left on my chest. Either I didn’t have them treated in the growth stage or they were simply missed. But I have WAY FEWER than I used to and I consider 3 years going on 4 to be LONG TERM results regardless of what electrologists may claim. You can call it removal or reduction, whatever you want, but the most of the hair is gone and shows no signs of coming back.

Most of the chest hairs I have left are white and were not expected to respond to the laser anyways. They feel like wires if I let them grow out, so I will probably have those treated with electrolysis.

So if you have dark hair and light skin, laser with electrolysis follow up, if necessary, is probably the best option.

RJC 2001

This seems to get lost in the discussion on laser vs electrolysis. If you do what you have been doing for the past 3 years every year, then you will see exactly what you have now all the time. What has been reported is that most people have full regrowth after 2 years without treatment.

For the money involved here, there are many electrologists who could give permanent results in 9 to 18 months for most people who could put in the time.

And by the way, just so no one gets the wrong idea, we are not at each other’s throats having an argument here, we actually agree on lots of things. :smile:

Dear RJC2001,
Iplan to do lhr with Lightsheer on my leg. I’m only to spend money around 1000 for 1 treatment. My intension is to reduce the hair not to remove it all, but what i’m worry is the patchy regrowth and i have to come back for tretment again, and pay more and more for that. Could you advice on that?

I have never talked with my technician about just thinning the hair in treated areas. When I am getting an area treated, the goal is to remove as much hair as possible.

The best way to get thinning I would think is to have the entire area treated and just stop getting treatments when you are satisfied with the amount of reduction. The hair that is not in the growth stage during treatment will grow back.

I doubt that the entire leg area can be treated in a one hour session. But I haven’t had my legs done so I can’t speak from personal experience.

James is right, we are not at each other’s throats. We simply have an honest disagreement on some points. I do agree with him on a lot of things. And his posts have persuaded me to seriously consider electrolysis for the white hairs and few stubborn dark hairs that remain.

The appeal of laser for me was to get 50% hair reduction after one treatment. It made an immediate impact on appearance and comfort. Plus the regrowth was finer making shaving easier with more satisfactory results. I never did expect laser to remove every single hair because I started out with a lot of hair.

I would be really pissed if I have full regrowth after 2 years! That would mean that the hair follicle mysteriously come back to life a couple of years after being destroyed.


Thanks for the nice comments, poliwog! As far as finding someone who’s done laser for 5+ years, most lasers used today haven’t been available that long. The earliest of this generation that’s still widely in use were cleared in mid 1997. There’s not a ton of long-term data yet.

There are consumers who are a year or more past their final treatment, which I consider the benchmark for permanent hair removal. Results vary, and depend a lot on the area treated, the expectations, and most of all the practitioner.

So all you “Laserians” and “Electrolites” Stay tuned to this channel as we keep tabs on the progress of all our friends here as they report their results.

The stats that said “most laser patients get full regrowth after 2 years past their last treatment” was made about lasers that came before the ones that are all the rage today. Of course, that only gets back to the point that at no time have the customers of laser had much iron clad verifiable information to go on as to what they could be sure to receive for their money before they paid it out, got lased and waited. :frowning:

I am glad for the ones who got what they wanted. (I know a guy who tells his clients at their first treatment, “It will be a week or three before you will be our friend again.”)

I am another person who is trying to decide between have electrolysis and laser hair removal. I spend at least one hour per day tweezing hairs from my face. It is driving me crazy. I would just go ahead and have the electrolysis, as it appears to be safer and more permanent, but there is only one electrolysist in my area that works during the times I am available. I am already on a three week wait just to get a consultation with her. There are plenty of laser providers in my area, however.

Can someone give me some advice? I have olive skin, but I am very pale and all of my facial hairs are dark (some very coarse, some fine). If I do choose to have laser, which lasers are best/ cause the least damage?

Also, can I continue to tweeze hairs in between treatments of either type? My moustache and chin hairs are very coarse and embarassing. Should I go into the treatments with hairs protruding from the skin or is it ok for them to be tweezed (my hair follicles are so dark that most can be seen without a hair)?

I appreciate any help.

CopPsych2B, if you have a lot of dark hairs on light skin, a couple shots with a laser might knock them down, but you’ll probably need to switch to electrolysis at some point.

Practitioner skill is vital with laser, so choose carefully.

No plucking with either method. Only shaving between treatments.

I have had electroylosis done on my entire arms. I tried three electrologist, the first one was horrible, her equipment was antiquated and she didn’t even use disposable probes. The second talk so much and hardly removed any hair and was extremely expensive so I though more money better experience more results wrong. The third I used for two years straight four hours a week. She cleared my arms so many times working on regrowth, regrowth, regrowth. I have finally given up because over the holidays I took a break to let my skin heal and all the hair started to return plus I have hyperpimentation, discoloration and scarring and all the hair. I am so upset. James recommended a good electroloysis in my area but I am so electroloysised out that I can’t even go to another one. Twenty thousand dollars later and I created more damage and feel worse than when I began. I knew that she wasn’t treating the hairs properly but kept continuing because I wanted to believe that eventually the hairs would stop. I could tell the regrowth because the hair grows twisted and I can see where it was treated in the follicle. I have fine straight hair and that is the easiest to treated. I’m sure James and many others are qualified and experienced but wish we could eliminate those who don’t have a clue and talk about themselves so much. I give in the towel, I quit! I have a laser consultation but do not expect to jump into that to soon. My advice about electrology is, if you don’t see results after several treatments and your gut tells you its not working quit while your ahead. If I decide to go with laser at one point I’m scared of the damage the hyperpimentation electrology caused might get worse. James do you think that after a while the arms might heal? And maybe could you explain why a fine hair on the arm that was treated with the blend about twenty times might still regrow twisted. I hardly ever saw her pull out a root. Could it be she never went deep enough? When we didn’t see results she set the machine on coarse arm hair and I believe thats what caused most of the damage. I’m sure there are good electrologist out there like yourself but I just have had bad luck. By the way the pratitioner never learned the blend in shool but she said the machine was preset for it! great.

I can only hang my head at the fact that what you have described sounds like someone who did not even know how to make a proper setting, and did nothing but pluck you for all that time. I don’t want to say that a person should quit electrolysis if they don’t get bare in a short period of time, however, one should see some improvement to show effectiveness. If one doesn’t keep expanding the size of the area of skin one is working on, the duration of the appointments should decrease after full first clearance is achieved. The frequency of appointments should decrease as well.

Of course, if the electrologist could not work fast enough to catch the growth phase, then one would only be thinning out the area, even with good treatment settings having been set, and perfect insertions performed. It sounds like you got neither.

It is wonderful that many modern machines have “pre-sets” but they are no substitute for knowing how to set your own settings to the personal requirements of the person in your office! Most presets are only valuable for virgin hairs on women. The higher settings are most useful for women who have done light tweezing type removal. For a man, they are usually of little value in the begining of treatment. I know of several manufactureres who offer classes to show how to work settings on their machines so one can get machine specific training. This is a good reason for electrologists to seek Continuing Education Units. Of course many think they have no value at all. I say one just has to choose one’s CEU’s carefully.

The only reason I have clients who I see once a week is because they want me to be the only hair removal they utilize at all, and/or they keep saying, “That went so well, lets do this too!” However, even with those, we have still decreased the duration of the appointments.

[ January 15, 2003, 10:03 AM: Message edited by: James W. Walker VII, CPE ]

James I have no doubt that electrolysis works but in the proper hands. I am fustrated because of the amount of time put into this not so much the money wasted but four hours a week plus healing. Had to attend several weddings in September with long sleeves because of the scabs, it the life I put on hold. Let my arms heal for now and take a break and maybe next year call your recommendation. In June my brother had a hair transplant and they did laser hair removal there. My brother knowing what I was doing asked the practitioner if laser was good for me. He replied no because I don’t see any hair on her arms. That was because we kept clearing it. Today I have all the hair back. Thanks James for listening in your hands I would have been hair free.

To CopPsych2b; I have the same skin tone and hair color as you describe. If you have a laser practitioner in your area who has an Altus CoolGlide Excel (or Vantage) NDyag laser, try to go for a consultation there. The Lightsheer has been heavily touted as appropriate for darker (Fitzpatrick IV to VI), but the side effects are very disconcerting - crusting, hyper- or hypo-pigmentation to name a couple. We had this particular type of laser at our facility and got rid of it in favor of the CoolGlide. The 1064 wavelength of this laser is very friendly to darker skin tones. I have had my underarms treated with no side effects, also had bikini and full leg done. We use this machine on Fitzpatrick I through VI with no complications, no need for clients to use bleaching creams, no wait for tanned skin to fade.

hairfetish, I share concerns about diodes used on darker skin, and even Nd:YAGs must be used with extreme caution. Having said that, it is possible with the right practitioner to get a good result with these devices. They must be EXTREMELY careful with darker skin tones, though. The difference between completely ineffective results and severe burns is razor-thin.

[ February 04, 2003, 08:26 PM: Message edited by: Andrea ]

Electrolysis is the ONLY method Proven by the AMA (America Medical Assoc.) to be effective. Laser has Not been proven and the problem with the laser is that supposedly it will only work on darker hair whereas electrolysis works on all types of hair. Another thing that is going on is this: Lasers are to be used by MD’s or directly under the supervision of an MD. So BEWARE PLEASE!!! I have a client who is ruined for life due to a laser being used on her lower legs. She is now in law suit over it. She had second degree burns on her and has been under medical treatment for 2 months. I was horrified when I saw all the round scars all over her legs. She will not be able to ever be free of those scars or wear shorts or bathing suit etc. It is hideous looking. I hope this will help all of you out there considering Laser.

After I posted my response I noticed you had puta message regarding electrologist bashing the laser. That is not my intent at all as I don’t have to prove anything. Truly, just gave facts and if you are content with the laser results that is just wonderful I am happy for you.

okay arguers i have to make this quick cos i am running out the door here to work…
tomorrow i go for my 3rd laser treatment (se my original posting at top of page) and i have to say that it is the best thing i have ever done. i am wearing shorts for the first time above the knee and am looking forward to my Hawaii vacation next week instead of dreading it. re-growth after the first treatment was a lot, not thinned and patchy. after my 2nd treatment (with the woman who is supposed to be the shit) i have barely any re-growth and only a couple patches that she missed (bikini, whole leg)and my in-growns are gone.
i have no hyper or hypo-pigmentation, no scabbing etc.
i am skin type IV, using Lightsheer Diode.
IF this turns out to re-grow if i leave it untreated for 2 years, depending on how bad, i will look again at the technologoy THEN and make a decison with what to do next.
right now i have 2 more treatments and then a year of free treatments so long as i stay on the 8-10 week program.
i am VERY happy.

gotta dash!