How does electrolysis remove hair permanently?

Electrology is the science of permanent hair removal. Using state-of-the-art technology, a minute amount of electricity is gently applied to the base of the hair follicle which destroys the hair growth tissue which permanently eliminates the regenerative ability of the hair follicle.

During a treatment, an electrologist inserts a very fine needle into the natural opening of the hair follicle alongside the hair shaft (keep in mind how tiny hairs are) and a minute amount of current is then applied to destroy the hair growth cells. The hair is then easily removed…no tweezing is done with electrolysis.

Hair Growth Cycle

The hair growth cells of the hair can be permanently destroyed during the Anagen (active) growth phase. At this stage the hair is connected to the blood and oxygen supply that it needs to grow, via the papilla. When the papilla is destroyed a new hair cannot grow. Because hair grows at different stages on different parts of the body it is important to commit to a regular schedule in order to treat all hairs in the growth stage. Best practice is to treat the hair as soon as it penetrates the epidermis (skin), as it quickly goes into a resting stage.

Three Modalities Of Electrolysis
Unlike Laser Hair Removal, Electrolysis works for all types of skin and has no health risks. It has been performed safely for over 100 years to many satisfied clients.
A word about

Electrolysis and Laser Hair Removal

Since laser hair removal was introduced, comparisons between the two procedures has become inevitable. Women (and men) want to know if it’s true that a surface treatment like laser can have the same permanent hair removal effects as electrolysis. Of course, the answer you get is going to depend on who you ask. As a consumer, you may find it confusing to try to separate marketing claims from clinical facts.

The best advice we can provide as professionals is to seek out information from sources that are geared towards informing you and are not aimed at convincing you to choose one product or service without regard to your unique needs. Here is a general overview of some things to consider if you are uncertain of which hair removal/reduction method is for you…

Why choose electrolysis over other hair removal methods?
FDA recognized

Electrolysis is the only true permanent hair removal method and the only permanent treatment recognized by the FDA.

All skin & hair types

Unlike other hair removal options, professionally performed electrolysis eliminates unwanted hair, permanently, with unsurpassed results.  Moreover, it does so for the largest variety of skin and hair types.

Safe in the long run

Laser promoters compare laser to electrolysis although laser assisted hair removal is considered a temporary method. It has not been evaluated for long-term safety of the patient’s skin and health.

Better results

Waxing, threading and tweezing are alike often resulting in ingrown hairs and discoloration may result. Additionally, they may cause an increase in hair growth activity. Depilatories and shaving can cause an irritation to the skin while the hair regrows quickly. These methods can require a lifetime of maintenance. Many can appear inexpensive but cost more due to long term use and are found to be inconvenient.

Universal acceptability & success

Electrolysis works on most areas of the body to give you smooth, sleek healthy looking skin.  No other solution claims such universal acceptability and success.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What to expect at your consultation & trial meeting

We will go through electrolysis as a treatment and I will explain to you how it works and what a typical session would look like. Then we will talk about pre- and post-treatment care. I’ll also review your health history, previous hair removal experiences, medications and any concerns you might have during your consultation.

Then we will start a trial session of approximately 5 minutes, where you can decide which area you want to have treated and can experience what it feels like, before committing to a full treatment schedule.

Can electrolysis help with unwanted hair anywhere on the body?

Electrolysis works on all skin and hair types  It can be applied to most facial and body parts, including: eyebrows, chin, upper & lower lip, jaw line & sides of the face, breast & underarms, abdomen, bikini line, legs and back. Based on a personal and confidential consultation, your electrologist will design a treatment plan that addresses your specific hair removal needs.

What does electrolysis feel like? Does it hurt?

If you’re considering electrolysis hair removal, you may be worried that treatment is going to be painful. That is one of the biggest misconceptions about electrolysis out there. Electrolysis, when performed with care, is not a painful experience allowing even the most sensitive person a tolerable experience.  While initially the client may experience a slight sting, this fades as the body recognizes and responds accordingly to the ongoing treatment.  The experience is typically one of discomfort more than of pain.

Sensitivity does vary from person to person. If you know that you are prone to being sensitive, the most important thing you can do is choosing a professional electrologist who has experience and training.  The two greatest factors which contribute to a pain-free experience are:

  • the experience, training and skill of your electrologist, and
  • your comfort in communicating with your electrologist

You should feel confident that your electrologist will listen to you should you feel discomfort at any time during the treatment. You should not feel too intimated or embarrassed to express your feelings should you feel uncomfortable in any way during the treatment.

For liability reasons, I am not certified to provide pain killers or topical anesthetic. However, if your sensitivity tends towards the extreme, I would encourage clients to use a pain killer such as Tylenol or Advil, or to apply a topical anesthetic such as Emla cream (which is available at most pharmacies) prior to treatment. Having said that I would like to emphasize that with the right electrolysis professional, there is no reason to fear that electrolysis will hurt!

Number of treatments...

This depends on many factors including the size of the area being treated, the density of the hair, the thickness of the hair, the existence of ingrown hair or curved or distorted hair follicles caused by repeated tweezing or waxing, the client’s age, tolerance, and medical history (including medication that the client is taking that may be contributing to excess hair growth). The number of sessions required to treat an area varies with each individual. Keeping regular appointments reduces the length and frequency of the electrolysis sessions. For best results, growing hair should be treated when it first appears above the skin surface and is in the early anagen growth cycle.

The first 6 months will show a significant reduction in the amount of hair. Some clients require up to two years of treatment to completely prevent growth.  Over time the treatments will become further apart and shorter in length as there is less hair to treat.

How long is each appointment?

Appointments vary in length depending on the area being treated and the amount of hair growth.  Some people have very little hair while others may have a significant amount because of natural growth, tweezing, waxing, or shaving.

What to expect AFTER treatment

Clients can experience some redness or swelling, and 24 – 48 hours later some minor scabbing can develop that can take anywhere from 2 – 14 days to heal.  Some people will have no scabbing in higher sensitive areas could take much longer to heal but will heal with no permanent marks.  Tiny scabs can be covered up with makeup and will fall away without any permanent marks.  Pigmentation can occur especially with darker skin color, but with time it clears up on its own.

How much will treatment cost?

Electrolysis costs depend on a lot of factors including: how much hair needs to be removed, the size of the area being treated, and where you get your services performed.

For best results, follow the electrologist’s recommendations in scheduling appointments. For areas that have been waxed or tweezed, treatments will be more frequent than for areas that have been shaved.

Are there any side effects with electrolysis treatments?

It is normal to see some redness and welting (bumps) in the treated area. This typically disappears within a couple of hours after treatment. In a few individuals who have sensitive skin, a slight skin irritation in the form of red spots will appear in the treated area. A minor bruise, localized swelling, tenderness, and some hyperpigmentation may occur, but these side effects are very uncommon and are only temporary. After treatment, ice can help to soothe the skin as well as bring down any swelling that may occur. If skin irritation occurs, hydrocortisone 0.5% cream (commonly termed “cortate”) applied two to three times a day can be helpful. Hydrocortisone cream should only be used if the irritation persists; most individuals will not require it after treatment.

The latest technology has made electrolysis more comfortable and effective than ever before. Your electrologist will provide you with post treatment instructions and the personal attention you need. You are assured of the best care from a skilled hair removal professional.

Is there a risks of infection?

As a professional, I meticulously follow the Health Standards and Guidelines for Electrolysis written by Alberta Health and Wellness. (you can find more information here ).

Single use sterile disposable needles are discarded after use. All my instruments are pre-sterilized and equipment thoroughly cleaned and sterilized between clients.

Are all hairs eliminated in one treatment or is regrowth to be expected?

Excessive hair growth, known as hirsutism can range from fine, vellus hair to dark, coarse hair on the face and body. Deep, coarse hairs cannot always be eliminated with one treatment; thus, breaking down the hair growth cells may require additional treatments. Based on a personal and confidential consultation, your electrologist will design a treatment plan that addresses your specific hair removal needs.

Can I tweeze, wax or thread in between appointments?

We do not recommend tweezing or waxing between electrolysis appointments as it only prolongs the technician from retarding the hair growth if the client is taking the matter into their own hands. Cutting and shaving are acceptable between treatments as they only remove hair at the skin’s surface and do not cause any damage to the hair’s actual root.

The temptation to have immediate result can be so overwhelming!!  Many women can hardly contain the desire to tweeze, thread, pluck or wax at the first sight of undesired hair growth, particularly those around the lip, chin, neck, chest or stomach area.  However, the reality is that, while this does achieve an “instant fix” it amplifies the problem often resulting in an increase in the speed of regrowth as well as a change in hairs from fine to coarse and firmly rooted.  While the immediate result may be satisfying, the long-term problem is only increased in a few different ways.

  • When a hair is tweezed, it increased bloody supply and results in this accelerated growth.
  • Tweezing is often less effective than one expects as there is often breakage during the pluck resulting in only the bottom half of the follicle being torn out.  This causes hair growth which is studier and, in some cases, to become dark thick and extremely obvious hairs.
  • Plucking is associated with risk of infection causing deep pustules which lead to scars, pits, or ingrown hairs
  • Repeated lifting and removable of distorted hair follicles can make the papilla more difficult to reach as they embed within the skin.

Fortunately, electrolysis is there to address these problem issues.  Book your consultation today!

Follow Up - The secret of staying smooth

In an ideal world, electrolysis would be a one and done affair, but the cycles of hair growth make that an impossible dream. Follow up is a key component of the treatment process whether you are undergoing electrolysis or laser hair removal. Multiple treatments of the same area are required to ensure that you remain smooth. Here’s a quick guideline to the parts of your body and the amount of follow up that is likely required for each.

A completed area is one that has been fully cleared and given three months to a year of follow up treatments.

The following areas tend to grow the most new hair, especially if the root of your hair growth issues are genetic or hormonal: Chin, Front of Neck, Cheeks, Upper Lip

You will need some follow up treatments for the following areas, though less so than the ones mentioned above: Chest, Breasts, Ears, Back, Top of Nose, Feet & Toes, Underarms.

Very little (and sometimes no) follow up treatments are required for the following areas: Hairline, Eyebrows, Abdomen, Underarms, Arms, Inner Thighs & Legs.

Your electrologist will be able to give you a better idea of the length of treatment and the number of follow up appointments you’ll need to ensure that electrolysis is the permanent solution to unwanted hair growth that you’ve been looking for.

Will Electrolysis affect my tattoo?

NO! Electrolysis is a completely safe hair removal method on tattoos. Because the hair follicle is being treated it will NOT fade or damage tattoos.

Is Electrolysis only for women?

NO! Many men, teenage boys, and teenage girls choose treatments on the eyebrows or other areas where unwanted hair may grow. Hair removal for men is very common.

Can hair be removed from moles?

Electrolysis can be performed in most moles where licensing regulations allow it. Your electrologist may require written approval from your physician.

What is the difference between "Thermolysis" and "Blend"?

Thermolysis is heat only and will only treat the very end of the hair root. The Blend will combine the heat with the galvanic current and will treat the entire hair, sending a small current up and down the hair.

Why Would I Get Thermolysis Rather Than Blend?

If you are pregnant or have a pacemaker you cannot have “The Blend Treatment.” Thermolysis is also recommended for areas that have an abundance of hair as it is faster. Once there is hair reduction, a client may choose to switch to individual hair treatment as thermolysis is 1 second as compared to the blend treatment is 8-10 seconds per hair.

What is the normal growth cycle of a hair?

Hairs have differing cycles of growth, many of which are not visible on the surface of the skin at the same time. The follicle produces the hair from the blood supply and discards it eventually through shedding. The process of growth, rest and replacement are known as the hair growth cycle. The sequence of events is repeated constantly until a hair ceases to be formed.

Electrolysis and pregnancy

If you are pregnant you can still get electrolysis treatment, but only “thermolysis”- the heat treatment, without the electrical current. It will still be effective. The blend has the galvanic current and is not recommended for pregnant women.

Unwanted hair can be caused by hormonal changes brought on by pregnancy. Although safe and effective treatment can be achieved by using thermolysis only, we still suggest that you seek the advice of your physician before beginning treatment during pregnancy.

Why do women get facial hair?

It can be such an embarrassing problem. Beards and moustaches belong on the faces of men, not women! And yet, thousands of us suffer and deal with facial hair…nearly 10% of adult women have noticeable facial hair. But why?

There are 3 main cycles in a woman’s life that cause hormonal changes and encourages hair growth: puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Unfortunately, the most common error is to begin tweezing, waxing, or shaving which results in fine, lighter hair becoming get coarser and darker.

For many it’s a family trait. Those darn genetics, passing the trait on through the generations. Chances are that if your mother or grandmother had facial hair, you will too.

For others, facial hair is a symptom of hormonal imbalances. Not the “screaming from the rooftops threatening everyone who dares to get by without a chocolate offering” type of hormones, but in the same family.

Sometimes women simply overproduce male hormones. All women produce a certain amount of male hormones, but when there’s an overproduction it can lead to unwanted hair growth. In cases where the problem doesn’t appear until later in life, menopause is often a trigger. At menopause, estrogen production drops, so the balance between male and female hormones can tip in the wrong direction.

Another cause for growth of facial hair can be a condition known as polycystic ovary syndrome. Facial hair is typically just one symptom. In addition to facial hair, you may also be experiencing irregular menstrual cycles, infertility, obesity and insulin resistance.

In very rare cases, and it must be stressed that these are rare cases, tumors can be at the root of facial hair issues. These tumors are typically located in the ovary or adrenal glands and there is often much more than just facial growth to indicate a problem.

When you see your electrologist for the first time, they will ask a series of questions to analyze your hair growth patterns and may suggest a visit to your doctor for simple blood tests to rule out and/or treat hormonal issues as you undergo your electrolysis treatments.

That’s why it’s so important to make sure your appointment is with an electrolysis professional who is dedicated to making sure your treatment is successful over the long haul.