What is electrolysis?
Electrolysis is a way of removing individual hairs from the face or body. Today’s medical electrolysis devices, called epilators, destroy the growth center of the hair with a short-wave radio frequency. This is done by inserting a very fine probe into the hair follicle at the surface of the skin. The hair is then removed harmlessly with forceps.
What causes unwanted hair growth?
Hair growth is the result of heredity and hormonal levels. Also, some drugs, some temporary methods of hair removal, and some illnesses can stimulate hair growth. Usually, hair growth is desirable. But when the hair is on the wrong part of the body (e.g., a woman’s upper lip or chin, eyebrows, breasts, hands, or arms, etc.), electrolysis can permanently remove it.
How many treatments will I need?
Since many factors influence hair growth, you will need to return for several visits. The total number of sessions needed to remove hair permanently from a particular area will vary from person to person. Most clients return once a week or every other week, as necessary. A significant percentage of unwanted hair will be gone forever once the treatments have been completed. Each treatment usually lasts between 15 minutes and one hour.
Myths about electrolysis
Electrolysis is painful. The truth is, electrolysis usually does not cause any significant discomfort. Modern electrolysis methods have reduced any discomfort to a mere tingling. A topical anesthetic may be used if necessary.
Temporary methods of hair removal are better. The truth is, chemical depilatories (liquids or creams) are often used to remove leg hair. Depilatories contain irritating chemicals and can also be time-consuming and messy. Waxing is another temporary method of hair removal and is usually done in salons. A hot wax is applied to the skin and removed once it has dried over the hair. The hair is stripped off when the wax is removed. Waxing can be painful and costly. Home waxing kits are available, but they can be messy and difficult to use. There are electrical electrolysis devices available for home use that try to copy the devices used by professionals. These devices are often unsafe for use by anyone who is not trained in electrolysis.
Facts about electrolysis
- Electrolysis is a time-tested method that was invented over 100 years ago to remove irritating, in-grown eyelash hairs. Most areas of the body can be treated with electrolysis, including eyebrows, face, thighs, abdomen, breasts, and legs.
- Sometimes, a slight reddening of the skin occurs during or immediately after treatment, but this will only last for a short time. Electrolysis is very safe and, unlike depilatories or bleaches, no harsh chemicals are used. Scarring is rare.
How do I choose an electrologist?
Electrologists are people who have undergone training to professionally administer the electrolysis procedure. If you are considering undergoing electrolysis, it is very important that you do your research before committing to an appointment. The wrong decision can mean extra sessions, additional cost, and unnecessary discomfort. By following the guidelines below, you can take comfort in knowing that you will be making an educated and informed decision when choosing an electrologist.
Qualifications: Many states require that electrologists be licensed or certified within the state in order to practice electrolysis. If you live in one of those states, be sure the practitioner’s certificate is current and fully on display. For states that do not regulate electrolysis, look for electrologists who have a certification from an accredited electrology school.
Ask around: One of the best ways to find any good service is to ask friends and family for recommendations. If you know anybody who has undergone electrolysis, ask for his or her input.
Consultation: Many places will give you a free consultation. During the consultation, be sure that any and all of your questions about the procedure are answered. Some of the questions you can ask include: how the procedure will feel; an estimate on the number of visits you will likely need; the cost of each visit (this will very from place to place, and it is best to call around); the length of each session; how long they have been in business; and the number of clients they have treated.
Needle electrolysis: Make sure the practitioner uses needle electrolysis. Some places may advertise electrolysis, but in reality they use electronic tweezers.
Use common sense: When you go to your consultation, look around. Does the place look clean? Do the workers look clean? Do they use disposable gloves or probes? Ask to meet the person who will be performing the electrolysis for you. Does he or she strike you as professional? If you are not personally comfortable with somebody, do not go to them. Personal comfort is essential to knowing you have made the right decision in choosing an electrologist.
© Copyright 1995-2013 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.
This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 12/10/2012...#8306