Part VII - Electrolysis vs Laser:
Laser Hair Removal & Electrolysis.
Since laser hair removal was introduced, comparisons between the two procedures has become inevitable. Women (and men) want to know if it's true that a surface treatment like laser can have the same permanent hair removal effects as electrolysis.
Of course, the answer you get is going to depend on who you ask. As a consumer you may find it confusing to try to separate marketing claims from clinical facts.
The best advice we can provide as professionals is to seek out information from sources that are geared towards informing you and are not aimed at convincing you to choose one product or service without regard to your unique needs.
This article below provides a general overview of some of the considerations you must consider when deciding on which method fits your needs:
You must have the ideal combination for laser hair removal to be a viable option.
It's important to be aware that your skin tone and hair colour may preclude you from getting laser hair removal treatments. The process is largely limited to those who have darker hair colour and lighter skin tones. There are very few machines in Alberta that have the ability to treat people who fall outside of these parameters as they were only recently introduced to the market. So if you have blonde, red or grey hair, laser hair removal is not likely an option you can consider. The same is true if you have deeply tanned or naturally dark skin.
Hair Removal vs. Hair Reduction
Clinically speaking, only electrolysis has been proven to permanently remove hair. Some could say this is simply by virtue of the fact that it has been around since 1875, compared to laser which has only been on the market in it's current form since 1995. There has been time for electrolysis to be examined and reviewed through long term research projects and reports. With laser hair removal, there have been no long term studies on the safety or effectiveness of treatment. The only reports available are largely anecdotal and the best laser hair removal practitioners can offer based on research and experience is permanent hair reduction.
Both laser hair removal and electrolysis require several treatments over time to be successful. Because treatment times are affected by so many factors (ranging from the experience and skill of your practitioner to the area being treated to the unique characteristics of your hair and skin) it's impossible to give a standard answer that one or the other will be faster or require fewer treatments.
Accreditation and Training
Because laser hair removal is new, there are few regulations in place to monitor the industry in Alberta beyond the registration of radiation emitting devises. While standards will no doubt be established as the industry ages, at this point it is up to you as a consumer to practice due diligence research and interview practitioners carefully.
It's not Either/Or
As the laser hair removal industry has grown, members of the ESA have noted that the two practices can have a complimentary effect. There have been many clients treated by our members who initially choose laser hair removal find that electrolysis is necessary to complete the effort to get the desired final result. This can be quite an effective tactic in treating large areas like hairy backs and chest hair in men, and leg hair in women.
Note for Dermatologists, Doctors and Laser Technicians
In part VIII, we'll get into The Cost of Electrolysis Treatments.