Hair Removal FAQ—Electrolysis
What is electrolysis for permanent hair removal?
Electrolysis is a common term used to describe hair removal with electrical current. This came about after Dr. Charles Michel, a St. Louis, Missouri opthamologist devised a method to ablate ingrown eyelashes without significant scarring. This method today is called “Electrolysis, Galvanic, or Multiple Needle Galvanic”. Subsequent technologies, although different from Dr. Michel’s method, are also referred to as “electrolysis”.
How does electrolysis work?
A small probe is inserted into the hair follicle in the skin where the hair is growing. Current is then delivered to the follicle to destroy the stem hair cells that make the hair. The hair is then removed with sterile forceps.
Can hairs be removed from any part of the body?
With conventional electrolysis, it is advisable not to treat the mucous membranes inside the nose and ears. The right kind of laser can be used safely to treat these areas however, since lasers specifically used for hair removal are non-invasive. The nostrils are lased from the outside and the ears are safely plugged before laser treatment.
How do I prepare for treatment?
If you choose to have electrolysis, then you must discontinue any method of temporary removal for about a week before treatment and resort to clipping the hairs until two days before treatment. With electrolysis, closely spaced treatments are necessary to treat the emerging hairs. As the hair growth lessens, the treatments get shorter and farther apart until the hairs no longer regrow.
What about scarring?
There is always a risk when any invasive procedure is done on the human body, however the risks are very small with electrolysis as long as the electrologist is trained. Immediately after treatment, you should experience a tiny red lesion at each treated follicle much like an insect bite. This lesion will disappear shortly after treatment and the area will return to normal. If there is continued redness for several days or visible scabbing, especially on the face, please report this to the electrologist. The solution could be as simple as changing the type of electrode because of a client’s allergy to metal.
Is electrolysis really permanent?
Yes, but it is not instantaneous. The electrologist delivers enough current to affect the cells within the follicle. This process is only effective in the beginning stages of growth, and because the electrologist cannot see below the surface of the skin to see what stage it is in, every hair is treated. If the follicle later produces another hair, then the process is repeated until the follicle no longer produces a hair. This process continually reduces the amount of unwanted hair.
Does electrolysis hurt?
There is some discomfort, but usually no more than tweezing.
Is it expensive and time consuming?
Professional electrologists usually work within a fee structure. Cost is predicated on the type of skin, temporary removal, and the number of hairs to be removed. Most of the time involved in a series of treatments is waiting for regrowth. Ask your electrologist at the consultation about your individual needs.
What if it doesn’t work?
If the area being treated does not respond as described in the consultation and if there are other arising health problems, (ie., irregular periods, weight gain, etc.) discuss this with the electrologist so a medical treatment plan can be implemented if necessary.
What causes unwanted hair?
Most unwanted hair growth is caused by temporary methods, heredity, age, hormonal changes, or are medicine related. Many females experience facial hair growth at puberty, during pregnancy and childbirth, or at menopause. A sudden growth of hair on the face of a female may indicate a medical problem that needs to be discussed with a physician. Many males experience hair growth on their shoulders and back that they deem unsightly. It is normal for females and males to lose hair on their lower extremities and grow more hair on their upper bodies (except at the top of their head) as they grow older.
How do I find the right electrologist?
The Society for Clinical and Medical Hair Removal (SCMHR) offered the first certification of electrologists in the world. Their designation is Certified Clinical Electrologist, or CCE. SCMHR offers an advanced certification for electrologists that are adding laser hair removal to their practices. This certification is CME for Certified Medical Electrologist. If there is not a CCE or CME in your area, it is recommended that you consult with your dermatologist or your physician for a recommendation.