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There are many ways to remove hair from your face and/or body, but if you want it gone forever, Electrolysis and Laser are your best bets.
Electrolysis is performed with a device called an Epilator. Because Electrolysis has been around longer than Laser Hair Removal, many people think the Laser has now replaced Electrolysis, but in fact that is not the case. Electrolysis still plays an important part in hair removal for most people, especially designing eyebrows (a subject for an upcoming blog).
Electrolysis treats the papilla (hair root) via the insertion of a very fine probe (and its accompanying tiny electrical charge, or heat charge) into the hair follicles, thus removing hairs one at a time. When performed by an experienced technician who treats the growth center of the hair, the hair follicle is permanently destroyed. The entire hair can be gently removed with a tweezer. The slight stinging or discomfort some people experience with Electrolysis can be addressed with a topical anesthetic cream if necessary. Generally by the next day any soreness and redness is gone.
The great thing about Electrolysis is that it can be used to remove virtually anyone’s hair. It doesn’t matter what color or texture your hair is or what color your skin is. It can treat stubborn, gray or finer hairs that may not get picked up with Laser. Nor does it matter how old you are. The downside of Electrolysis is that it can take a longer time, especially if you are interested in removing hair from your entire body.
By comparison, Laser Hair Removal is significantly faster as it treats multiple hair follicles at one time. The rub is that the Laser may not be for everyone. Laser Hair Removal works best on people with coarser, darker hair and lighter skin. (There are, however, lasers that treat other skin types.) The light energy from the laser is absorbed by the pigment in the follicle and then the follicle is disabled. The darker the skin color (including darkened skin from sun tanning, tanning beds, or tanning creams and lotions), the more risk for burning, infection, and even skin discoloration. Also, the Laser tends to work best on people before their hair turns gray or white. The Laser has an easier time finding darker hair roots. Those people with white or gray hairs mixed in may require extra Laser sessions or some Electrolysis treatments. Unlike Electrolysis removing one hair at a time, with a Laser treatment the hair purges out over a period of one to three weeks, and then the new growth comes in.
The FDA regards Laser Hair Removal as effective method for “Permanent Hair Reduction” when performed by a skilled practitioner. Put simply, you can expect to have about 20 percent of your hair permanently removed from the region worked on with each treatment. Generally most people will average four to eight Laser treatments. You and the technician will need to wear proper eye protection during treatments.
If you are serious about hair removal, the best thing you can do is set up a consultation with a hair removal professional. In this day and age, you should expect the person you meet with to have access to both an Epilator and a Laser. A spot test can determine whether or not you are a candidate for Laser work. Your hair removal pro will also look at your hair, color, texture, density, location, etc.
It’s not unusual to wind up with a program that combines both Electrolysis and Laser Hair Removal. One may be right for one part of the body while the other method may be better for hair removal. Some people want the hair on their faces, necks and hands, the exposed areas, to disappear gradually. Others want a faster transition. Once you’ve established what your options are, your hair removal pro can help you to set up an individualized treatment schedule that corresponds with your unique needs.
You should look for or ask about a technician’s licensing and/or certification for Laser and Electrolysis.
It is imperative that you stick to your program to get faster results. If you’re not seeing progress within the first year, you may need a second opinion with another hair removal specialist, or even an evaluation with your doctor. Keep on zapping. . .
All opinions stated here are based on Linda’s 35 years of experience.
Linda DeFruscio, R.E., R.I., P.M.E., C.L.T., is the founder and president of A & A Laser, Electrolysis & Skin Care Associates in Newtonville, MA. The transgender community has been the centerpiece of her business from day one.
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