Usually, during electrolysis you should neither feel the insertion of the probe into the hair follicle, nor should you feel like the hair is being pulled out when it is removed because it will usually slide out of the follicle when properly treated. Sometimes, when there is a large white keratin ball at the root of the resting or telogen hair, you will feel it pop out right at the surface of the skin, and this is normal. As for when the heat is being applied or when the lye chemical reaction is occurring, different people have different tolerance for pain, and the same person may have different pain threshold at different areas on the body, or at different times of the month for women. Some areas of the face and body, especially towards the mid-line, are more sensitive than others. But considering that we have to apply enough heat or form enough lye to kill the germ cells that are making hair at the bottom of the hair follicle, anyone that claims a painless procedure is likely to be exaggerating just a little bit. It is just impossible to destroy tissue without sensation. Similarly, laser hair removal does involve some degree of discomfort. Clients who have low tolerance for pain may wish to apply a numbing cream, or take Advil or ibuprofen before their appointment. Stronger pain medication may be prescribed by their physician.
Electrolysis is not laser hair removal. One difference is that electrolysis has been approved by the FDA for “permanent hair removal,” whereas laser hair removal has been approved by the FDA for “permanent hair reduction.” This is not to say that laser hair removal does not work for some clients, only that it does not work for all clients. Another difference is that laser does not work well when there is no pigment in the hair to absorb the laser heat energy, or when there is similar coloring to both the skin and the hair, so that both absorb the laser energy equally. Thus, laser does not work well for grey hair, blonde hair, or for dark hair on dark skin. Since laser hair removal involves shaving the area and treating with the laser, it is difficult to know if it works on an individual until several treatments and hundreds of dollars later. A third difference is that laser hair removal gives unpredictable results for some areas such as the face, whereas electrolysis works well on all areas of the face or body. Finally, although uncommon, side effects of laser hair removal can be more significant than electrolysis, including redness, blistering, skin discoloration, swelling, and scarring. All things being considered, no one would object to a client using laser to reduce the hairs on a large area of the body such as the legs, before having electrolysis to permanently remove the remaining stubborn hairs.