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.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/10/2012.


  • Treating excess body hair could remedy a hairy situation. Accessed 12/21/2012
  • Removing Hair Safely. Accessed 12/31/2012

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy