There are many methods to remove undesirable body hair in salons, clinics, spas, and medical facilities worldwide.
The following discussion considers two of the most common procedures sought after today by clients who seek long-lasting methods that remove hair from specific areas of their bodies. Both laser treatment and electrolysis are permanent options for removing unwanted hair, and many people opt for a combination of these two methods to achieve the desired results.
See below for what to expect from both procedures and how to consider which hair removal solution best suits your needs.
A laser is a popular method to remove unwanted hair. Various types of lasers may be used for hair removal, but their central feature is destroying the hair follicle by selective photo thermolysis.
This, in simple terms, means that the hair will be heated and then destroyed without damaging the surrounding tissue. Hair pigment, which is called melanin, absorbs the laser, which heats up and destroys the follicle. The light emitted by the lasers in this type of hair removal is carefully calibrated to operate at a specific wavelength that will target the melanin.
Depending on your complexion and hair color, various lasers treatments are tailored to your personal needs. At an appointment, the clinician will assess your skin tone and hair type before creating the most suitable treatment plan for you. Depending on the cycle of growth that your hair goes through at the time of appointment, you may need follow-up treatments to get the best result. Follow-up sessions are best spaced 4 to 6 weeks apart to target hair growing at various phases.
If regrowth of the treated hairs occurs, it will be lighter and thinner, and a follow-up session will be able to remove it altogether. Laser hair removal is especially useful for larger areas of hair removal when a laser with a wider beam is used as it will be capable of removing multiple follicles at the same time. This is compared to electrolysis that targets hairs individually.
Therefore, laser hair removal is a more efficient hair removal process from a time perspective; you can expect a more speedy treatment.
Before your session at an established clinic, your consultation will not only establish your treatment plan, but a medical history will be taken to identify any potential contraindications that will affect your procedure. You will also be advised about how to prepare your skin for your session. For example, you will be advised to refrain from using tweezers, bleach, hair removal creams, or waxing before your appointment. You can, however, shave the day before a laser session as it will reduce skin irritation.
After your procedure, it is important to avoid UV exposure to the area that has been laser-treated and be sure to apply sunscreen were necessary for two to four weeks post-procedure.
In the immediate 24 hours following your treatment, you must also avoid overheating your skin, so spas, saunas, and hot showers are best avoided. This also means that excessive sweating from physical activities such as vigorous exercise should be minimized where possible.
Some chemicals may also irritate your skin, so refrain from pool chemical exposure, and scented cosmetics and fragrances are not recommended for use immediately following treatment.
Shaving and plucking are also not encouraged as they may irritate the skin.
Some clinics will offer a cooling, gel-like lotion that can be applied to the skin to reduce heat in the epidermal layer and assist in reducing swelling. Some lotions are also anti-bacterial and work to prevent any follicles infection that can occur if the skin’s surface is not appropriately kept clean.
An unscented, moisturizing cream will also be sufficient to keep the skin cool and hydrated. However, it is essential to note that not all lasers are created equally, so Dr. Ashley Granot at Me Clinic advises that if you seek a permanent solution to unwanted hair, seek out practitioners who use medical-grade lasers.
Much of the beauty grade machinery will vary in its results and can only achieve hair reduction. Once absorbed by the melanin, medical-grade lasers will destroy the follicle’s root, which is how hair is prevented from regrowing. In general, laser hair removal is able to offer 90% permanent elimination of hair growth when a series of treatments is appropriately followed.
So take the time to research and find a clinic that offers highly qualified staff with state-of-the-art equipment that will offer you the most advanced treatment options.
- Good for larger patches of skin such as arms, legs, and back, as treatment times are faster.
- Clinics that use a variety of advanced, medical-grade lasers will be able to treat various hair types on people with diverse complexions, so it pays to invest in good quality treatment.
- Skin that contrasts to the hair color get the best results, such as dark hair on the fair-toned skin.
- Less painful than other hair removal procedures.
- Does not work on gray hair and is traditionally less effective on hair that is similar in hue to the skin. However, most modern, latest generation machines can now overcome this.
- Beauty-grade lasers only offer hair reduction and aren’t permanent.
- Some itching or swelling of the skin may occur post-treatment.
- Uncommon side effects include infection of hair follicles.
Electrolysis operates differently from laser and is considered an effective treatment for permanent hair removal. It can yield results across all skin types and hair types and has been practiced for over 100 years.
A successful electrolysis procedure completely removes the hair at its root. The way it achieves this is via the use of a probe that is inserted into the hair follicle itself that generates an electrical current that kills the hair. So unlike waxing, the hair will be easy to remove from the shaft with tweezers once it has been killed as there will not be resistance from the follicle.
The electrical current generated by the probe also destroys the cells that contribute to hair growth, which prevents regrowth.
Many areas of the body can be treated with electrolysis, such as the face, stomach, thighs, chest, bikini area, fingers, toes, and back. However, it is important to note that professional practitioners’ machines vary from the portable electrolysis machines available for home use. In a clinic or salon, the machines used will generate a higher current and are therefore a more effective option to permanently reduce hair.
You may, however, still require several treatments even with the use of a professional-strength machine to remove the hair in the long term.
This is due to the various growth cycles of hair. Although the hair may regrow after initial treatment, it will typically be finer and lighter.
If the hair being treated happens to be in the first, active stage of its growth cycle, it will likely not grow back even after only one treatment. If treating a part of the body where the hair is concentrated in a dense area, multiple treatments are normally necessary to prevent over agitation of the skin, which would occur if every single follicle was pulsed in one session.
To get the best out of an electrolysis treatment, some preparation in the weeks leading up to your appointment can result in less regrowth and, therefore, fewer treatments.
This includes refraining from using wax, tweezers, hair removal cream, or other hair removal devices 2 to 4 weeks prior to your treatment. At your appointment, you should also be aware that the area that is being treated will need to be clean.
This means you should not apply makeup, moisturizers, creams, or lotions before attending. Depending on your threshold, electrolysis may also be uncomfortable for you, especially if you are experiencing sensitive skin at the time of your treatments.
Generally, people describe the feeling of electrolysis as a tingling feeling ranging in intensity from a mild sensation to a moderate level of discomfort.
However, you may not experience any discomfort at all, so the individual experience of this treatment will vary.
It is good practice if your clinician performs a patch test on a smaller area of skin so you can experience the sensation yourself before proceeding with a full treatment. Here you will also be able to see if your skin will have a reaction to the electrolysis.
The good news is that as technology develops, machines are becoming more efficient and less painful, meaning that you’ll spend less time in treatments and have a more pleasant experience overall.
Some clinics and salons will offer the application of a topical anesthetic that can prevent some of the discomforts you may experience while getting an electrolysis treatment performed. After you complete an electrolysis treatment, the aftercare of your skin is also essential to minimize any after-effects.
Soothing gels such as aloe vera can be applied to cool the surface of the epidermis that may experience some irritation. Swelling and redness may also occur after your treatment, lasting up to three days or only a few short hours. In addition to cooling lotions, you may wish to take a mild painkiller or apply a cold compress to alleviate this tenderness.
If you feel that the skin is not coping well or you are feeling pain, it is advised to return to your clinician and get them to assess your skin.
Other post electrolysis considerations include ensuring that the treated area is kept clean. Therefore, excessive sweating for 24 following a treatment is not recommended as the open follicles may become infected from exposure to bacteria. Breakouts can also occur if the follicle becomes contaminated by surface dirt on the skin.
Similarly, sun exposure should also be limited to protect the skin as the open follicle ends, so ensure that SPF30 is applied to any areas treated by electrolysis that will have the sun on them for 2 weeks after treatment. Avoid waxing and tweezing in between appointments also. The operator’s level of experience and skill will impact an electrolysis treatment. Factors such as the selection of the size of the probe and the intensity of the electrical current or pulse can affect your results.
Therefore, seek out an experienced and reputable operator for a more effective treatment that saves money in the longer term.
- Good for lighter hair on the lighter skin, which other hair removal treatments traditionally cannot tackle.
- Relatively few side effects compared to other methods of hair removal.
- Suitable for most areas of the body.
- Is a long-term hair removal option, especially if top-up treatments are received as directed.
- Effective for treatment of areas with sparse hair growth.
- It can be time-consuming to treat a large surface area with electrolysis as it addresses each hair individually. For this reason, you may feel that getting your legs or arms treated with this method is an extremely lengthy and, therefore, costly process.
- You may need several appointments to remove the hair permanently, and with age, new hair follicles can develop in a previously treated area.
- The treatment may be uncomfortable with a stinging sensation on the skin; even with the anesthetic cream, it can be moderately painful on average for those who experience discomfort.
- Swelling and redness may occur after your treatment for several days.
- Results vary depending on the practitioner.
- Uncommon side effects may potentially include scarring and changes in pigment.
In summary, both electrolysis and laser will permanently remove hair from your body. Electrolysis has been around for over a century, and home kits exist but get professional treatment for best results. It works on all hair types.
As electrolysis individually removes hair, it can be time-consuming and costly for larger areas. In addition, electrolysis may not be the best treatment for you if you think that you may be sensitive to mild to moderate pain or feel uncomfortable with the close proximity of the probe to delicate areas.
Therefore, the laser is faster and suitable for hair removal from larger surface areas. It is especially effective on hair that contrasts in color to the skin it grows on, but it will not remove gray hairs. Be sure to seek out medical-grade lasers for best results, and like electrolysis, it will also require multiple appointments to get permanent results.
So, what is the best choice for you? Of course, it will depend on what type of hair removal outcome you are seeking, so book in some consultations at some clinics near you and see what permanent hair removal options can be tailored to suit your complexion, lifestyle, and budget.
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