When looking for PERMANENT hair removal, what's right for you? When choosing between electrolysis and laser hair removal, it's important to consider the advantages and drawbacks of each treatment.


Electrolysis is an older technology that is still widely used today. In fact, it is the only hair removal method approved by the FDA to be effective in creating permanent hair loss.

In electrolysis, a specially designed thin probe is placed directly into each hair follicle. An electrical current is then passed through the tip of the probe. This current produces a brief burst of heat that destroys the hair-producing cells at the base of the follicle. The hair shaft then loses its source of growth and falls out. Since it is directly applied to each hair, electrolysis is effective on all hair colors and types.

Laser hair removal is distinctly different from electrolysis. It uses laser technology that results in permanent hair reduction after a series of sessions.

Since laser hair removal does not involve inserting a probe into each individual hair follicle, hair removal treatments are much faster than with electrolysis, especially given that a greater area can be treated in the same period of time. Those who have undergone both treatments report that the amount of discomfort experienced during each procedure is about the same—although many comment that post-procedure discomfort is shorter with laser hair removal than with electrolysis.

To most people, the main advantage to electrolysis compared to laser hair removal is that electrolysis is permanent: once the cells at the base of the hair follicle are completely destroyed, they will never regenerate to produce more hair growth. This means a "one-and-done" type of treatment session. Laser treatments are necessary in numerous and costly sessions.

With laser hair removal, long-term data on safety and effectiveness have not been accurately established. Regrowth rates have not been accurately established and cannot be predicted due to numerous variables. It is generally not as effective on unpigmented (gray) hairs and red or blonde hair. It must be used very cautiously (if at all) on darker skin tones or on consumers who tan themselves. This is VERY important to those who spend time in the sun or visit tanning salons. Improper treatment can cause burns, lesions, skin discoloration lasting several months, or patchy/patterned regrowth. Recent data suggest other skin structures are often affected by laser irradiation, and long term effects of this constitute an unknown risk. It also requires eye protection. And last but not least, some patients, even ideal ones, do not respond to treatment.