Laser vs. Electrolysis

I was wondering if anyone well educated in dermatology or hair removal methods has any insights into this seemingly never ending debate. I am not a doctor or anything of the like, but here is my logic.

A big part of me is beginning to lean towards laser (at least for thick dark hair). My main concern is skin damage. Although the long term effects of laser are unknown, the short term seems to have no ill effects (when done properly). Both laser and thermolysis kill hair by heating the follicle to the point of destruction. So unless I’m missing something, the method of killing is the same, it’s just the delivery that varies: a needle or a laser. Here is why I am leaning towards laser. With a laser, the heat is only absorbed by dark colors, which would be the hairs. With electrolysis on the other hand, first off it’s not guaranteed that the electrologist always hits the mark, but mainly, the heat put off by the needle is not only absorbed by the hair follicle, but also by the skin tissue that the needle is also touching. It just seems that due to the nature of the laser, the hairs are better targeted, and I would suspect (based on logic, not any scientific findings or anything) that this would result in a higher kill rate as well as less skin damage.

I’ve had both laser and electrolysis with limited results on both so far (although I am 1 month past my 2nd laser treatment and am still waiting to report any personal results/conclusions from that and I admit that my electrolysis schedule has been far from regular, so I mostly blame my lack of results on myself).

One thing that really confuses me is the discussion over whether laser really works and if electrolysis is the only real permanent hair removal method. Again, if they both heat up the follicle to the point of destruction, why wouldn’t they both have similar results? I’m not arguing this, but rather inquiring.

I would appreciate any insights/counter-arguments to the logic presented above. I am not trying to advocate either method - I’m just another consumer trying to seek the best method with the least potential side affects.

Best of luck to you all,

I am not an expert – only a consumer. From my experience, both laser and electrolysis are good. Yes, because of the heating of the follicle by both methods, there is probably some damage to some adjacent tissues, but I think they are minimal. The body is a wonderful thing and has ways of healing. We get minor abrasion, cuts, and the like all the time and there aren’t any permanent issues relating to them. We can’t live in a glass bubble. I am not concerned about the very small, and insignificant “damage” that either one of these modalities might cause. Personally, I think shaving potentially causes more damage.

Either method requires a lot of time. With electro, you have to go in a lot more frequently for treatments to catch new hairs popping through the surface (laser can treat these hair before they reach the surface).

I am a consumer as well. I have had both laser and electrolysis for back, shoulders, upper arms.

I agree with BRR, with one thing to add. I’ve had both methods done and prefer laser. It was much easier, less painful, and had rather quick results. Or it appears that way for now.
I believe electrolysis to be effective but the practitioner must have talent. The skill level to make electrolysis work just is not out there like it should be. Laser takes much less skill to run and therefore the skill of the tech is not as impotant. Did that make sense?
Now I’m sure this will get somebody ticked off. Just my opinion.
Skill at running both modalities is vital, more so for electrolysis.

Yes, I prefer laser as opposed to electrolysis. However, I can’t say that one is more painful than the other, except in the boney areas where electroysis is more painful.

I prefer the electroysis in areas where the hair have thinned out quite a bit and are finer. I think that electrolysis is more economical in this case. Laser is more expensive though it as a lot faster. Also, you don’t have to go in for treatments as often with laser.

Here is my personal view.

I have had both I did electrolysis on parts of my back for a few months. I was unsatisfied with the way my skin reacted and healed, although it has taken awhile it is now finally going back to normal. Electrolysis as well as Laser I should say is hit and miss. If its done poorly it can have side effects, also results will vary from one person to the next.

However, over all I would have to say Laser to me is more feasible. I’ve had 4 treatments with a YAG laser and I was only ever after a reduction and my money has surely been well spent, I am now over 3 months past my last laser treatment and I am considering doing one more. Now, I must say this if you are after every single strand removed I don’t think laser is for you…I’m now interested in seeing how hairless I can get from laser or I am considering just getting a reduction in other areas.

you’re right in your logic when comparing. and you’re right that considering how few treatments you have done with either, it’s impossible to tell what’s working (and i hope you’re doing it on different areas). i think the agreed approach is to treat dark coarse dense hair and light skin with laser and finish with electrolysis. or if the hairs are very fine, vellus, sparse, or light to begin with, those should be treated with electrolysis all the way. in either case, finding a good practitioner for both with the right machine/method used for you is essential.