When I was in high school I remember noticing a darker longer chin hair that would appear every once in a while. I would pluck it out and it was no big deal. Fast forward 10 years and it was much more than just a few hairs here or there it was a daily concern. So much so that my daughter picked up my razor and tried to shave my chin one day. I decided that was it, now was the time to finally prioritize myself. So why did I choose electrolysis vs laser hair removal?
Unwanted hair is not something we talk about as women. It’s not generally accepted and I know for me I have trouble even telling my closest friends about it. When I was younger I tried laser hair removal and after weeks of treatments I saw no improvement. They later informed me laser hair removal would not be effective for people with red hair (like myself) or light hair (blonde or light brown). The only permanent solution was electrolysis. So I chose electrolysis vs laser hair removal.
What is Hirsutism?
So many people like myself have what is called hirsutism. This is when women have stiff or dark body hair in areas of the body that women don’t commonly have hair such as the face, chest, lower abdomen, inner thighs and back. For me I believe it is related to my genetics as both my mother and maternal grandmother have similar hair patterns in the same area like myself. There are many reasons why someone may develop hirsutism.
Some common causes:
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Cushing’s syndrome
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
- Most often hirsutism occurs with no identifiable cause (thats me!)
Why Is Electrolysis the Best Option?
It’s not the only option, it’s just the best option if you want permanent results. If you want to wax your face, pluck, or shave every so often that works too. If you are like me and don’t want to constantly worry if you missed a chin hair that morning a more permanent method might be for you. Finding a good electrologist is what you NEED!
What is Electrolysis?
Electrolysis has been around for over 100 years. It is the only FDA-approved method for permanent hair removal. A trained electrologist will insert a very thin needle (usually thinner than the hair they are treating- don’t freak out I know how people feel about needles) into the natural opening of the hair follicle alongside the hair shaft. A small amount of electrical current is applied to destroy the hair growth cells. There are three different modalities that can be used (all are effective) and are chosen based on your hair type and your response to treatment.
Galvanic: This produces a chemical reaction in the hair follicle that destroys the hair growth cells.
Thermolysis: this produces heat and destroys the hair growth cells in the follicle.
Blend: This method combines galvanic and thermolysis. The thermolysis heats up the chemical reaction in the follicle destroying hair growth cells.
Electrolysis is not cheap. It is typically about $30-$100 per session depending on the time it takes to treat the given area. Larger body areas will cost you more than smaller areas.
The cost is what held me back for so long. Electrolysis technicians can also be hard to come by. It’s a very impressive skill that takes some real education and skill. I have been to 3 different electrologists and the first two were not impressive. Finding someone who is good at what they do may cost you a little more(in some cases) but you will see results faster and end up spending less money in the long run.
How long the process takes can vary. Hair grows in many stages and they are all in different stages at one given time. This is why multiple sessions are necessary. It takes between 6 months – 2 years to truly be hair free in some cases. That doesn’t mean that you won’t have amazing results along the way. After only 1 treatment with my current electrologist I went 2 weeks without having to remove unwanted hair. Prior to that I had to shaving my chin everyday to avoid anyone seeing an unwanted hair. My first session took 1 hour and by my third session I only needed 30 minutes.
So how does the pain level compare for electrolysis vs laser hair removal. Laser hair removal is less painful than electrolysis but it also really depends on the area being treated. I find some areas feel like a small pinch while other areas can be quite uncomfortable. There are some options to improve your experience.
- topical lidocaine on the area being treated
- over the counter pain medication 30-45 minutes prior to your session
- apply ice to the area after treatment (also helps with inflammation)
- talk with your electrologist they may be able to decrease the current strength for your comfort
Electrolysis vs Laser Hair Removal
Many factors go into choosing electrolysis vs laser hair removal.
|Laser Hair Removal||Electrolysis|
|Ease||Many laser hair removal options||Harder to find depending on where you live|
|Effectiveness||Hairs growth remains dormant for long periods of time but will eventually grow back often lighter, finer, and fewer in number.||only FDA approved permanent form of hair removal|
|Time||(5-30 mins) 6-8 sessions typically||(15-60 mins) 12-30 sessions|
|Cost||$200-$1600 per session||$30-150 per session|
|Pain/Discomfort||“like a rubber band snapping on your skin”||Depends on the area treated (some fall asleep during treatment, described as “a hot prick or pinch”, other find it quite painful). Your Electrologist can adjust the current strength for your comfort.|
Is It Safe During Pregnancy?
Most providers will advise you to avoid both laser hair removal and electrolysis during your pregnancy as there have not been any significant studies done on the safety of these procedures at this time.
If you choose to go forward with some form of hair removal while pregnant it is recommended to avoid the breasts and abdomen as these areas can be much more sensitive and could cause some problems with breastfeeding postpartum. If you choose electrolysis during your pregnancy Galvanic or blend methods are NOT recommended as they send a current through the patient and back to the device. The baby is surrounded by amniotic fluid and the fluid can conduct electricity so is therefore unsafe for the fetus. The Thermolysis method does not flow through your body. It is a concentrated short wave therapy so will not affect the baby.
Please have a discussion with your provider before you make any decisions regarding hair removal during pregnancy.
When choosing electrolysis vs laser hair removal I chose electrolysis because it was the best choice for my needs. Everyone has different desires and needs when it comes to their self care. Electrolysis is ultimately the only FDA approved form of permanent hair removal. That was so important to me. There are pros and cons to each method so please make the decision that is right for you.
Jess is a registered nurse with over 6+ years of critical care experience for patients young and old and is the mother of two small children. After having her own children she felt inspired to provide mothers with real actionable guidance and education to make informed decisions throughout their pregnancy and postpartum experience.