Frequently Asked Questions
What is electrolysis?
Electrolysis is the only method proved by the BMA and FDA for 100% permanent hair removal. It uses a sterile needle placed into each hair follicle individually and removes that hair’s ability to reproduce ever again. The needle glides into an existing opening in the skin surface, alongside the hair shaft, without piercing the skin surface. The electrolysis process destroys both the dermal papilla (blood supply) and the bulge area (stem cells) which serve as the ‘brain centre’ of the hair follicle. Without a blood supply to nourish the hair and without a brain centre to trigger the next cycle of growth, the treated follicle space simply fills with a collagen matrix and over a period of time it heals to form smooth, hairless skin.
Does electrolysis hurt?
We are all unique and our perceptions of pain are distinctly subjective. The experience is often described as a sensation of heat or a pinch causing mild discomfort. However, this sensation is dependant on a multitude of factors, such as hunger, sleep, psychological and emotional state, the area being treated, the type of hair and skin, the condition of the skin, for females - the time of the menstrual cycle (premenstrual is often more uncomfortable), individual tolerances vary greatly. A skilled electrologist will consider the timing application, intensity of current and probe selection to adapt treatment to suit each individual client and their needs. Many people browse the internet, read, have a chat, listen to music or even take a nap while being treated.
Will electrolysis work for me?
Yes, electrolysis will always work when performed correctly by skilled and experienced practitioners. Unlike laser, electrolysis is suitable and works for every skin type, hair type, and colour. Commonly treated areas are most facial parts, such as hairline, eyebrows, upper and lower lip, chin, jawline, sides of the face including above the line of the beard in men and the top of the nose. The only facial areas that are usually not treated due to increased risk of infection are nostrils and the inner ear (the outer ridge of the ear is safely treatable). Commonly treated body parts include the nape, underarms, breast, chest, abdomen, navel, bikini line, arms, legs, fingers, toes, back and shoulders. Transgender clients often request complete beard removal and treatment on some bodily parts mostly including genital areas for pre/post gender reassignment surgery.
How does electrolysis work?
There are currently three modalities:
Galvanic (chemical energy)
Thermolysis (heat energy)
Blend a blend of both
Galvanic is known as true electrolysis and it relies on the presence of water molecules in the
follicle. The current produces a chemical reaction on a minute scale but creates enough sodium hydroxide, commonly known as lye, which is highly caustic to the tiny follicle and thus destroys it via coagulation. This modality is not used on its own as it is a slow process.
Thermolysis is a greek word - thermo meaning ‘heat’ and lysis meaning ‘to break apart’. It creates heat energy which cauterises the blood supply and obliterates the hair growth cells (bulge). This modality is suitable for most hair types.
The blend method is the perfect marriage of the two modalities. As the lye is formed via the chemical reaction it is warmed and forcibly spread throughout the entire follicle ensuring complete destruction. This method is most suitable for distorted follicles such as in Afro-Caribbean skin types, or after long term plucking/waxing.
How long will it take?
Depending on the size of the area to be cleared, the treatment time can vary from a few minutes to several hours. Hair follows a specific growth cycle with three phases - anagen, catagen, and telogen. Each strand of hair on the human body is at its own stage of development. The cycle completes and restarts continuously. The growth of hair varies depending on gender, age, genetic predisposition, density, thickness, the skin’s condition, any underlying disorders, environmental factors, previous uses of temporary hair removal, certain medications, hormone function, stress, and many other factors. Each treatment course will vary and a definitive time cannot be given, however, if a recommended treatment plan is followed, most can expect to complete anywhere between 6-18 months on average. Results become apparent very swiftly as you will see the hair reduce as treatment progresses. Thus you don’t have to wait until the end to feel and see an improvement, giving you the confidence to adhere to your treatment plan. Initially, regular appointments will be beneficial and will be spaced out over a period of time, eventually coming to a natural end.
When should I begin my electrolysis treatment?
The initial schedule of appointments is the most crucial. Therefore it is best to start electrolysis when it will be feasible to attend regularly and commit to the time and costs involved. A free consultation is offered to discuss the best individual treatment plan for you and your lifestyle, giving you the opportunity to fully understand the process and ask any questions. The hair needs to be long enough to be held by a pair of tweezers, 2mm is usually sufficient. In between appointments the hair can be cut or shaved but must be left to grow again before the next appointment. This takes on average between 2-4 days for most people. The hair does not need to be any longer than it usually would when you choose to remove it yourself.
What should I consider after treatment?
Immediately following treatment, the skin in the area may appear slightly red, swollen or feel tender, this is completely normal and usually resolves within a couple of hours. The first 24-48 hours post-treatment are the most important. An aftercare treatment, such as aloe vera or witch hazel, must be applied with freshly washed hands, or cotton wool, at least 3 times a day to help promote healing and reduce the risk of infection. Any heat exposure, such as sauna, steam room, prolonged sun exposure including use of sunbeds, hot bath/shower, are strongly recommended to avoid. When bathing or cleansing, the skin should be treated gently and patted dry with a clean towel. Excessive sweating, make-up application, swimming, harsh soaps, perfumes, exfoliants or cleansers are not advised as the pores are open and prone to infection.
Avoid touching the treated area unnecessarily. In some people small pin-prick scabs or crusts may form; allow them to fall off naturally to reduce the risk of pigmentation. There is very little risk of complication when electrolysis is performed by a skilled practitioner. However, aftercare advice is extremely important and should be adhered to carefully. After the first 48 hours, you should apply sunblock even during the winter months as the newly formed skin may be prone to pigmentation for certain skin types.
What is advanced electrolysis?
Each electrologist can attain different levels of qualification. Level 3 is permanent hair removal by electrical epilation. Level 4 involves the removal of skin imperfections and includes skin tags, Campbell de Morgan (blood spots), spider naevi, telangiectasia (thread veins/broken capillaries) and milia. Level 5 includes moles, common warts, plane warts xanthelasma, syringoma, seborrhoeic keratosis, verrucas, age spots, dermatosis papulosa nigra, epidermoid cysts, pilar cysts, sebaceous cysts, sebaceous hyperplasia (face and body) and poikiloderma.
Check which level your electrologist has obtained and speak to them about any skin imperfections you may want treatment for.