Electrolysis Vs. Laser Hair Removal: Which Is Best?

Written by Erin Foster, LA, Licensed Aesthetician on February 28, 2017 11 Comments

Laser Hair Removal vs Electrolysis

What Is Electrolysis?

Electrolysis is a hair removal technique that uses an electric current to destroy hair follicles. An electrolysis procedures starts with a small needle being inserted into an individual hair follicle. The needle delivers heat energy to terminate the follicle. The individual hair is then removed (plucked out) using tweezers.

Since the follicle is destroyed hair is not able to regrow. However, the process of electrolysis is relatively slow the treatment focuses on individual follicles which may require several treatment sessions to be fully destroyed.

Video: Laser Hair Removal vs. Electrolysis

Side Effects & Complications of Electrolysis

Patients who undergo electrolysis can experience several negative side effects and complications including:

  • Skin Discoloration: Electrolysis can spur areas of the skin to change pigmentation; creating patchy areas of discoloration. Individuals with darker skin tones or sensitive skin are more at risk of discoloration.
  • Pain/Discomfort: The process of electrolysis can be painful, with individual hair follicles needing up to 20 seconds of electrical current to react to the treatment.
  • Scabs: Many patients develop swelling, redness and scabs along the skin after treatment. Scabs can lead to serious infection if it’s not properly treated.
  • Ingrown Hairs: After a single electrolysis treatment many hair follicles become damaged but not completely destroyed (the reason why multiple sessions are typically required). These damaged follicles typically become clogged which causes ingrown hair.
  • Bruising: Bruises along the skin are possible, especially if the needle is inserted incorrectly or too deeply into the skin.
  • Scarring: If the treatment is done by an inexperienced technician skin damage and scarring of the skin is possible.
  • Other skin issues: Some electrolysis patients have reported several skin issues like dry skin, dullness, and reductions in elasticity; stemming from the skins interaction with the electrical current.

Laser Hair Removal: A Safer Alternative

Laser hair removal treatments are superior to electrolysis in most cases. Laser treatments both safer and has a higher efficacy rate, which is the reason why it’s the only hair removal service we currently provide.

Laser hair removal uses infrared light to target pigment in the hair follicles, converting the light into heat to cause follicular destruction. Unlike electrolysis which addresses one follicle at a time, laser hair removal treatments can quickly address large areas of the skin.  The computer-guided system gently disables hundreds of hair follicles in less than one second. This dramatically shortens total treatment time while reducing discomfort for the patient.

Laser hair removal also has a dramatically lower risk than electrolysis of side effects like pigmentation and scarring. It’s a simple treatment that requires no “downtime” but produces an excellent result.

Additional Resources Comparing Electrolysis with Laser Hair Removal


Erin Foster, LA

Erin Foster is a licensed aesthetician experienced in analyzing and determining which treatments are best for each individual client’s needs. She has diverse knowledge in skin care products and ingredients. Erin specializes in laser hair removal, IPL, V-Beam, chemical peels, HydraFacials, Cooltouch, and microdermabrasion.

11 Responses to “Electrolysis Vs. Laser Hair Removal: Which Is Best?”

  1. Avatar Delma says:

    Has laser improved on light facial hair?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Delma, thanks for reading our post and submitting your question! Lasers have improved to a point where hair that is relatively light in color can be effectively treated. However, there can still be issues with light blond or white hair. We always recommend getting an in-person consultation with an experienced laser hair removal provider. They will be able to assess your specific characteristics and determine how successful the laser will be.

      WD Staff

  2. Avatar Sandra says:

    But only electrolysis is approved for permanent hair removal. Laser may be faster but does not permentaly remove your hair, I’m I correct ?

    • Avatar Jana says:

      Yes, you are correct. At least my experience confirms that. I have been doing laser tx (face) over five years and after every six weeks the hair is back.

  3. Avatar Millie says:

    It got me when you said that electrolysis will be able to keep your hair from growing anymore because the follicle will be destroyed. This means that I will not have to worry anymore. I just needed to be ready for the pageant that I will be joining next month. Thanks!

  4. Avatar smoothie says:

    If laser hair removal isn’t permanent, does that mean electrolysis would be better for removal? A few side effects are nothing in the face of my body hair hate

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Smoothie,

      Thanks for reading our post and submitting your great question! We’ve found that the results of laser hair removal, while not permanent, are dramatic. Most patients will only need periodic maintenance treatments (maybe annually or bi-annually) to stay hairless. Many will find that to be a better option than electrolysis given its risks.

      However everyone has differing preferences. We’d encourage you to consult providers of both procedures and weigh the risks/rewards of each.

      Hope that helps!

      WD Staff

  5. Avatar Noa says:

    I started laser removal a couple months ago and am really happy. Just wanted to say its worth it lol

  6. It is very difficult to decide which method is best. Both the methods have its pros and cons. Thank you for the post. Informative one..
    I personally give a bit of weight age to the Electrolysis method because it has more approvals and reviews.

  7. Avatar Yocheved says:

    It is very difficult to decide which method is best. Sometimes it depends on the requirement. I think a laser is a good option for larger body areas like legs, hands, back, etc whereas we can consider electrolysis for small parts like the forehead, eyebrows, etc.

  8. Avatar Becky says:

    I find electrolysis has fewer side effects and is a permanent solution. You need to prioritize your satisfaction and then see what suits you best.

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