Dr. Heidi B. Churgin D.O.M., Dipl., Ac., C.M.E., M.E.
Electrolysis for Hair Removal
Electrolysis is a method of removing individual hairs from the face or body. Today's medical electrolysis devices destroy the growth center of the hair with chemical or heat energy. After a very fine probe is inserted into the hair follicle, the hair is removed with tweezers.
Most areas of the body can be treated with electrolysis, including the eyebrows, face, abdomen, thighs, breasts, and legs. There are generally no permanent side effects, but sometimes a temporary, slight reddening of the skin may occur.
What Causes Unwanted Hair Growth?
Hair growth is the result of heredity and hormone levels. Also, some drugs, temporary methods of hair removal, and illnesses can stimulate hair growth. Electrolysis may be an option when hair growth is in an area of the body where it may not be desired such as on a woman's upper lip, chin, or bikini line.
How Many Electrolysis Treatments Will I Need?
Many factors influence hair growth, so you will need to return for several electrolysis 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 needed. But the unwanted hair will be gone forever once the series of treatments is complete. Each treatment lasts between 15 minutes and one hour.
Myths About Electrolysis
Myth: Electrolysis is painful. In most cases, electrolysis actually does not cause much discomfort. Modern electrolysis methods have reduced the discomfort to a mere tingling. A topical anesthetic cream may be used in some cases.
Myth: The electric tweezer method is permanent. The FDA and the American Medical Association recognize only electrolysis as a permanent method of removing hair. Some states prohibit those using or selling the electric tweezer from claiming it provides permanent hair removal.
Myth: Temporary methods of hair removal can be better. Chemical depilatories (liquids or creams) are often used to remove body hair. These products contain irritating chemicals and can be time-consuming and messy. Likewise, bleaches contain harsh chemicals and do little to disguise dark hair. They may also discolor skin. 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 electrolysis devices available for home use, but they are often unsafe for use by anyone who is not trained in electrolysis.
How Do I Choose an Electrologist?
Electrologists are people who have special training to perform electrolysis. If you are considering electrolysis, it is important that you do your research before committing to sessions. The wrong decision can mean extra sessions and cost along with unnecessary discomfort and scarring.
Know the professional's qualifications. Many states require electrologists to be licensed or certified within the state to practice. If you live in one of those states, be sure the practitioner's certificate is current and on display. For states that do not regulate electrolysis, look for electrologists who have certification from an accredited electrology school.
Ask around. One of the best ways to find good services is to ask friends and family as well as your doctor for recommendations. If you know anybody who has undergone electrolysis, ask for his or her input.
Get a consultation. Many places will give you a free consultation. During the consultation, be sure all of your questions are answered. Some things you may want to ask about include: how the procedure will feel; how many visits you will likely need; how much each visit costs; how long each session lasts; how long the practitioner has been in business; and the number of clients he or she has treated.
Make sure the electrologist uses the right technique. The practitioner should use needle electrolysis, which is the only permanent form of hair removal. Some places may advertise electrolysis but use electronic tweezers or photoepilators instead. These are not permanent hair removal procedures.
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 needles? Ask to meet the person who will be performing the electrolysis. Does he or she strike you as professional? If you are not comfortable with somebody, look for someone else to do the procedure. Personal comfort is essential to knowing you have made the right choice.