A very fine, sterile probe (matching the diameter of the hair being treated) is inserted directly into the natural opening of the hair follicle alongside the hair shaft. A tiny amount of electrical current is then applied to destroy the dermal papilla, the matrix, and an area called "the bulge", all of which cause hair to grow and regenerate. The loosened hair is then easily removed with tweezers.
The first research involving electrolysis for the permanent removal of hair began in 1869 in St. Louis, Missouri. It was conducted by an ophthalmologist Dr. Charles Michel, who was looking for a safe, effective way to remove ingrown eyelashes which often led to blindness. After publishing a medical paper on his method in 1875, the technique was accepted by the medical community and adapted for treatment on other parts of the body. Though the technique and equipment have greatly improved, the same basic method is still in use today.
Women most commonly choose electrolysis for their upper lip, chin and eyebrows; men often choose electrolysis to manage unibrows, beards and ear hair. Electrolysis can be used on any hair, anywhere on the body except the inside of the ear and nose or in a mole.
There are many of us with unwanted hair. In fact, most likely, your electrologist has spent many hours receiving electrolysis treatments. Their compassion comes from walking in your shoes. There seems to be more of us with unwanted hair than without!
At your consultation, your electrologist will take a thorough health history. This will help them figure out a possible reason why this hair came on suddenly. Among the questions will be:
Do you have thyroid problems?
Are you diabetic?
Have you had menstrual or ovarian problems?
What medications do you take?
Do you have a family history of unwanted hair?
Some studies show women have symptoms of menopause 10 years before they reach menopause. This also could be the cause.
Electrologists cannot diagnose, but they can ask you questions that will help you have further discussions with your physician. Regardless of the cause, your electrologist can permanently remove the unwanted hair.
Chin hair on women is often exacerbated by tweezing and waxing. The repeated irritation from yanking hairs out can result in a larger diameter hair growing from the follicle or ingrown hairs from the breaking off of hairs in the follicle. When women tweeze hairs from their chin and have acne on their chin, but not on the rest of their face, they should find relief from their acne with electrolysis treatments.
Once they have stopped tweezing hairs from the chin and allow the electrologist to properly treat the hair, skin will clear. Hormonally caused facial hair on women usually grows in a pattern, starting with the chin and corners of the upper lip.
An endocrinologist (hormone specialist) may be the person to help you. When women are overweight, have trouble losing weight, have irregular or no periods, and hair in the male pattern area, they should be evaluated by a specialist. These are classic signs of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Again, electrologists cannot diagnose, but they do recognize what is not normal. If you have PCOS, your electrologist can permanently remove the unwanted facial and body hair.
Treatment depends on the symptoms. Your primary physician or endocrinologist can determine the best course of action to alleviate specific symptoms you have. If weight is an issue, the most successful eating pattern is following a diabetic healthy eating plan. When choosing carbs, make sure they are complex carbs that don't raise your blood sugar.
If you develop unwanted hair, electrolysis will get rid of the unwanted hair permanently. To address the medical issues, sometimes medications are prescribed by your physician.
Many medications can cause hair growth or hair loss. Talk with your pharmacist about each medication you are on and also about how your medications interact.
During most treatments, you will feel a momentary heat sensation or pinch. Discomfort is minimal for most people, but individual tolerances vary greatly. Your Electrologist can make adjustments to maximize your comfort.
Keep in mind that some areas of the body are much less sensitive than others. Some female clients have reported more sensitivity during their menstrual cycle. As such, avoid making appointments around such time.
Most clients find electrolysis to be a comfortable and tolerable experience. With continually advancing technology, equipment and treatment protocols, Electrolysis is more comfortable and effective than ever before.
Taking a pain reliever thirty minutes before your appointment will make your treatment more comfortable. A topical anesthetic cream such as 4% lidocaine or EMLA (prescription) may also be applied to the area at least one hour prior to your appointment. A thick layer of anesthetic cream, no larger than the size of your palm, should be applied to the treatment area. Cover the treatment area with saran wrap to ensure maximum effectiveness of the product. Anesthetic creams can be found over the counter or by prescription from your health care provider. Please thoroughly clean the area of treatment before applying your numbing cream because it’s not cleaned off before your treatment to provide the maximized numbing effect.
There are three types, or modalities, of electrolysis used today - galvanic (current produces a chemical reaction), thermolysis (short-wave which produces heat) and a modality that blends the two. They all result in effective permanent hair removal.
In over a century of use, electrolysis has proven to be permanent and effective. In fact, electrolysis, is the only method of permanent hair removal recognized by the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA), and its permanency is further supported by hundreds of scientific articles published in medical literature. Of course, there are also millions of satisfied customers who can attest to the permanency and benefits of electrolysis.
Yes but not always on the first try. To best understand this it helps to understand how hair grows. Hair grows in three stages and then falls out and starts over. The hair’s follicle is only present and susceptible to treatment during the first and perhaps the second stage of growth. If a hair is treated during the last phase of growth the effort is wasted because there just isn’t a follicle there to treat. Unfortunately there is no way to know what phase of growth the individual hairs are in. This is why it’s important to return for treatments frequently. If a hair is treated unsuccessfully once and then is given too much time to grow again it will once again pass in to its final (telogen) stage where treatment is ineffective.
The number of treatments necessary varies for each client. Treatment sessions can range from 15 minutes to more than two hours depending on the area being treated. Factors such as hair growth cycles, the quantity and structure of hair presented, previous use of temporary hair removal methods, heredity, hormone function, certain medications and stress influence the treatment program for each client.
Generally, areas can be cleared in 6 months to a year, if the client is dedicated to completing regular treatments. Because there are three different growing cycles, some hair remains hidden at any given time, and it may take several months to a year to completely clear an area. The number of total treatments will vary from area to area and person to person.
It is very important to adhere to the recommended treatment schedule to achieve optimum results in the shortest time frame. Improvement should be observed within a couple months after initiating treatment, provided the client adheres to the recommended treatment schedule. The client’s role in the treatment process is important to the overall success of treatment. As treatment develops with the decrease of hair growth, sessions will become less frequent and for shorter periods of time until completion.
No. Most hair problems consist of hair that is so densely spaced that treating every hair in one day would cause skin damage.
Electrolysis has been proven safe over a period of nearly 150 years. Modern, well-trained Electrologist use the most up-to-date, effective methods of sterilization, disinfection and antisepsis, while following guidelines set up by major electrolysis organization in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
For well over a century, electrolysis has proven safe and effective. Like many minor procedures in medicine, electrolysis does include a short healing phase. During this time, there may be some redness or swelling, tenderness and occasionally some pin point scabbing, which varies with each individual. The latest technology has made electrolysis more comfortable and effective than ever before. You will be provided with post treatment instructions.
You are likely to notice some slight redness or pink and perhaps some swelling or slight welting. This is normal. A cold compress applied for 10-15 minutes immediately following a treatment will help reduce the irritation.
Stop all tweezing and waxing immediately. It can distort your follicles and may even nourish stronger, coarser hair in the wounded area as it heals. Cutting the hair with scissors is the best method. Bleaching will work, but it may make it difficult for your electrologist to see the hair. Shaving works too, but try to shave within 24 to 48 hours before an appointment, so that your electrologist will have a hair shaft long enough to grasp.
Not very well. To perform electrolysis safely and effectively, significant training and specialized equipment, lighting and magnification are required. Without these, home methods in most cases will be ineffective.
Unwanted hair can be caused by hormonal changes brought on by pregnancy. Some clinics may perform electrolysis on pregnant women, but we advise no and do not treat pregnant women. We suggest you seek the advice of your physician before beginning treatment. Please wait to seek treatment post pregnancy.
A lot of people ask, “Well, isn’t laser permanent? They often advertise that it is permanent.” Laser is considered by the FDA to be permanent hair reduction. It cannot completely destroy the follicle, nor is it painless. Laser treatments only cripple the follicles, allowing for a period of decreased growth, thus reducing the size and thickness of the hair in the treated area. Additionally, laser hair removal has not been evaluated for long-term safety of the skin. Lasers are not ideal for all skin or hair colors nor are they capable of selectively targeting individual hairs. The only method of permanent hair removal, as stated by the FDA, is electrolysis. For additional information on laser hair removal, please visit the FDA’s site which clearly explains the permanence of electrolysis over the temporary and occasionally permanent ‘reduction’ of laser hair removal: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm049041.pdf http://www.fda.gov/radiation-emittingproducts/resourcesforyouradiationemittingproducts/ucm252761.htm
DRINK WATER. Drink lots of water before, the day of, and the day after your appointment. It is very important to come to your appointment fully hydrated. Hydrated follicles will ensure a more effective treatment because electrolysis works by using the water content in the follicle. Dehydrated follicles are much more difficult to treat.
ARRIVE EARLY. Please arrive 10 minutes before your appointment. All electrolysis appointments are based on time. If you are more than 5 minutes late your electrologist reserves the right to reschedule the appointment and you will be charged in full for the missed appointment. This is out of respect to our clients time and schedules.
We do offer text confirmations for client convenience. However, the client is ultimately responsible for the appointment, whether or not a confirmation is received.
PAIN RELIEVER. Taking a pain reliever thirty minutes before your appointment will make your treatment more comfortable. A topical anesthetic cream such as 4% lidocaine or EMLA (prescription) may also be applied to the area at least one hour prior to your appointment. A thick layer of anesthetic cream, no larger than the size of your palm, should be applied to the treatment area. Cover the treatment area with saran wrap to ensure maximum effectiveness of the product. Anesthetic creams can be found over the counter or by prescription from your health care provider. Please thoroughly clean the area of treatment before applying your numbing cream because it’s not cleaned off before your treatment to provide the maximized numbing effect.
HAIR LENGTH. Please make sure you hair is at LEAST 1/16 of an inch in length so that it can be treated. If hair is too short, it might not be able to be extracted with tweezers. If your hair is too short, your appointment will be rescheduled and you will be charged for the appointment time.
Also please trim (not shave) the area to be treated day of your appointment if necessary. This can easily be done with a pair of clippers. If you decide to shave the area, be sure to do so a few days prior to your appointment, allowing enough hair growth for the tweezers to grab. Keeping the hair trimmed allows your electrologist easier access to the hair follicle, and making a more precise insertion, therefore, an easier more effective treatment.
AVOID CAFFEINE. Avoid stimulants such as coffee or caffeine sodas the day of your appointment. This could make you more sensitive to pain. Some female clients have reported more sensitivity during their menstrual cycle and should avoid making appointments around that time. The higher your pain tolerance, the more effective your treatment will be. It is best to work as close to your pain threshold as possible for the most effective treatment.
AVOID SUN. Avoid sun exposure 48 hours prior to your treatment. Doing so will dilate your blood vessels and will lengthen your recovery time.
AVOID RETINOIDS. Do not use Retin A, or any topical retinoid for at least 1 week prior to your electrolysis treatment. Accutane should be discontinued for at least 6 months prior to electrolysis. Having electrolysis services done while on retinoids could result in permanent pigment changes and scarring.
DO NOT TOUCH. Bacteria is everywhere and on everything, so never touch the treated area unless hands are thoroughly washed. Touching your skin with dirty hands will cause you to break out.
APPLY ALOE VERA GEL. Apply aloe vera gel as recommended to help soothe and restore the skin. This will help your skin stay moisturized and heal faster.
APPLY ANTIBIOTIC CREAM. If needed, apply Bacitracin, Polysporin, Hydrocortisone or any antibiotic cream cream to the treated area the night of your treatment. This can be applied with clean hands or cotton for up to 48 hours following your treatment. These medicines are designed to kill bacteria on your skin and prevent infections from cuts and burns. This will help your skin heal even faster, especially facial areas. Make sure to follow the recommended dosage on the label or ask your pharmacist.
DO NOT SCRATCH. It is normal for your skin to feel itchy a few days following your treatment. This is inflammation and all part of the healing process. Resist the urge to scratch. You will create tiny cuts in the skin and bacteria from your nails will enter theses cuts causing a nasty skin infection. Not to mention, causing more inflammation to the area which means more itching. If you are tempted to scratch, it is advised to take an antihistamine. If your skin is irritated apply a Hydrocortisone cream, Cortisone, Cortaid or anything with 1% hydrocortisone will work. It is anti-inflammatory and will reduce redness, itching and swelling. Make sure to follow the recommended dosage on the label or ask your pharmacist.
DO NOT PICK. Picking at scabs can cause permanent scarring!!! Light scabbing is a natural part of the healing process. Scabs are lymph fluid that has drained from the treated hair follicle and has dried up at the surface. If scabs appear, allow them to fall off on their own. Never pick a scab off, as this could cause scarring. Using an antibiotic cream on the area for a couple days after treatment will likely prevent scabs from forming. Keeping the area moisturized will help prevent scabs from forming..
COLD COMPRESS. Apply a cold compress to reduce inflammation and swelling. Using an Ice pack on the treated area following treatment will reduce selling and inflammation.
If you experience discomfort while your skin is healing, using an Epsom salt compress will help alleviate symptoms. Add one teaspoon of Epsom salt to half a cup of warm water. Mix and apply the mixture with a clean washcloth for ten minutes at a time. This can be repeated until symptoms subside.
STAY OUT OF THE SUN. Immediately after treatment, you must stay out of the sun to prevent abnormal pigmentation. An area that has been treated is extra sensitive to hyperpigmentation. It is also very sensitive to heat. Skin that has been treated by thermolysis is especially at risk because heat was used to release the hair. Exposing treated skin to additional heat will cause treated skin to become sunburned and inflamed. Do not leave the house without using sunblock with a minimum of 30 SPF.
AVOID HOT TUBS, SAUNAS, AND POOLS. Avoid hot tubs and saunas in the first 48 hours. Your pores are open and can easily become infected.
DO NOT WORKOUT. Avoid exercising after your electrolysis appointment. Excessive sweating can cause bacteria to enter open follicles causing a minor infection, resulting in a breakout.
NO MAKEUP. Do not apply makeup for at least 24-48 hours after electrolysis. Your pores are open and can easily become infected. It is okay to wear eye makeup, but no foundation or powder. Application brushes and sponges are full of bacteria that will cause you to break out. Be sure to wash your application brushes with a proper antimicrobial cleanser prior to resuming your regular makeup routine 24-48 hours post treatment.
DO NOT SHAVE. Avoid shaving the area for at least 24-48 hours post treatment. This can cause microscopic cuts and scrapes allowing bacteria to enter the follicles causing infection. Shaving can also cause ingrown hairs to form. Let the skin heal prior to shaving.
NO ASTRINGENTS. Avoid any harsh products until skin is fully healed. This includes perfumes, acne medications, astringents or anything with an alcohol base. These products will dry out your skin. Witch hazel is recommended to cleanse the skin and can be used as a toner.
DO NOT TWEEZE OR PLUCK. Tweezing causes trauma inside the follicle, supplying follicle with a nutritious blood source resulting in deeper, thicker regrowth. Remember, some regrowth is to be expected
KEEP UP WITH A REGULAR TREATMENT SCHEDULE. Keeping on a regular electrolysis maintenance schedule is very important. If you cannot make your scheduled appointment, clip, shave, or use a depilatory cream such as Nair to remove the hairs. Treating the new regrowth as soon as it starts to appear, when the roots are not very deep and thick, will result in the most effective treatment. Fine hairs are much easier to treat that thick deep ones. So be sure to maintain a regular treatment schedule!
Pre and Post skin care treatments will make your Electrolysis treatment more comfortable and effective, since it will neutralize the effect of radiotherapy on the treated hair follicles.