How electrolysis works
What causes hair growth?
Two things cause hair growth – hormones and stimulation of the blood supply. This is why other methods of hair removal, such as waxing, shaving, tweezing and threading, simply don’t work in the long term as they all stimulate the growth of thicker, stronger hair.
What is electrolysis?
Electrolysis is a method of permanent hair removal.
Who is it suitable for?
It is suitable for all skin and hair types, even if the area has been subjected to years of shaving, plucking or waxing. However, you cannot have electrolysis if you have a pacemaker, take blood-thinning medication, have any blood disease or during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Some other conditions may require GP consent.
How does it work?
Every part of the body has a blood supply and a hair is no different. Electrolysis uses a very fine needle that is inserted into the opening in the skin that the hair grows from (the follicle). The needle needs to touch the blood supply at the base of the follicle. Heat is then applied via the needle to cauterise (seal off) the blood supply. The needle is removed and a pair of tweezers is then used to lift the hair out of the skin. Without a blood supply, a new hair can no longer grow back.
What areas is it suitable for?
Electrolysis can be performed on any part of the face and body, including eyebrows and nipples.
How often will I need treatment?
Depending on the area and sensitivity of the skin, most clients have weekly sessions until the treatment is finished.
How will it feel?
Everyone is different. A mild burning sensation is experienced, which most people find completely bearable. If required, more sensitive clients can apply a topical anaesthetic cream before treatment.
How long does each session take?
This all depends on the area to be treated. An upper lip, for example, would normally be a 15-20 minute session. The bikini line would be a 45-60 minute session. How many sessions depends on the amount of hairs and size of area to be treated.
How long will it be before I see results?
Each hair is treated individually and most hairs require two to three treatments to stop growth completely. The process is repeated over the area until all unwanted hairs are removed permanently. You should see a reduction in hairs after a few treatments. For permanent results, the course must be completed over the cycle of hair growth.
What will I experience after treatment?
Most people will have a mild redness on the skin, which normally lasts 20 to 30 minutes. A little swelling may also occur and some people may see a few spots. All are temporary reactions.
What about aftercare?
Skin should be kept clean and dry for 24 hours after treatment. No sun exposure and/or heat treatments, such as steam, sauna, hot yoga. Make-up should also be avoided. Antiseptic cream to heal and soothe is recommended for two days after treatment. In between sessions it is vital that you do not pluck, shave, tweeze or wax hairs. Cutting/trimming the hair is advised instead.
Are there any side effects?
Electrolysis is a very safe treatment and has been used for over 100 years. However, successful treatment requires great skill and expertise. A good therapist is vital to satisfactory results.
I have had electrolysis elsewhere in the past but it didn’t work. Why?
There are many reasons, but the most likely is that it was not performed properly. Did you feel as though the hairs were being plucked or pulled out? When performed correctly, the hair slides out without any resistance, so you shouldn’t feel it being removed. Other reasons you may not have had a good result include plucking/waxing hair between treatments and not having the recommended amount of sessions. A skilled therapist should be able to talk you through exactly how the treatment works and what is required for permanent results.
I’ve been left with scars after electrolysis with another therapist. Why?
If the needle is not inserted at the correct angle and/or depth, then damage to the skin can occur (see chart, above). It is important you choose a skilled and experienced therapist. Always ask for recommendations.