What is electrolysis? Well, as with any treatment, we try to answer all your questions before you decide to go ahead. Before we do that, though, here’s the story of how it all began.
“Electrolysis” is a term that has become synonymous with permanent hair removal since 1875. Originally it was a process involving the insertion of a wire filament into the hair follicle (the pocket from which the hair grows), while the patient held an electrode.
A weak current, generated by a battery, was passed from the electrode, through the patient’s body to the wire filament and back to the battery. When the current passed through the follicle, sodium hydroxide was formed, commonly called “lye.” Lye is a caustic substance that dissolves protein, like the protein in the hair and the lining of the hair follicle. Thus the “electrolysis” method chemically destroys the structures inside the follicle that produce the hair. This process is still used today, but it’s much more refined – and it’s very effective.
How has electrolysis improved?
About 55 years after its development, a newer method was introduced, known as short-wave thermolysis. In this newer method, a wire filament was still used, but instead of the current passing through the patient’s body, the wire acted as an antenna and sent a short-wave radio wave into the hair follicle. A radio sound wave vibrates. This vibration excites the water molecules in the follicle creating heat from the friction produced between them and, in turn, producing an amount of heat sufficient to cauterise tissue, in this case, the lining of the follicle, and the blood supply to the hair, the dermal papilla.
Newer technology has improved electrolysis dramatically. Check out the information below on the Blend and Flash.
How does electrolysis work?
A hair must be actively growing for its follicle to be moist enough for the process to be effective. A certain percentage of follicles are in this stage (anagen) at any given time. Some follicles are also dormant. These follicles are going through a natural growth cycle and hair will resurface within a few weeks or months.
When the hairs are actively growing once again, their follicles can be effectively treated and permanently destroyed. For this reason, a series of treatments is required. The length of the series and the length of each appointment are highly individual and will be adjusted throughout your treatment plan as needed.
Can you help with ingrown hair removal?
Using sterile lancet instruments, topical anaesthetic, topical antiseptic, and surgical gloves, we can safely remove ingrown hairs. This allows the infection to be treated, the hair removed and new, hairless skin to take its place.
What’s so special about Blend and Flash?
Distorted follicles used to be a problem, but with the new, flexible, rounded tip Ballet filaments, the follicle is straightened so that the entire length can be treated iin one insertion. The Flash refers to the speed of the pulse. The older machines delivered thermolysis current measured in hundredths of a second. The new Apilus machines deliver current in thousandths of a second.
What is a session like?
After your initial evaluation, and discussion of how past medications, or medical conditions may have affected your hair growth, your skin is prepped with an antiseptic solution to insure that it will not become infected. A topical anesthetic can be applied for your comfort, but this is rarely needed with the Apilus equipment.
Next, the probe is placed into the follicle. The radio wave pulses are delivered into the follicle. The treated hair is then removed from the follicle with forceps. After the treatment, a soothing solution can be applied to the treated area using a process which lessens any swelling or redness and closes the follicle openings, thus reducing the skin reaction. As hairs that were dormant or previously tweezed appear, the process is repeated. The time needed per session and the length of time between sessions will diminish until all of the unwanted follicles have been destroyed.
What will it feel like?
You may experience a slight tingle lasting a few thousandths of a second, very comparable to the sensation felt from the stray spark of a fireworks sparkler, but usually, that is all you feel. The Apilus range is famed for its comfort, and the built-in digital processors ensure complete safety. Non-computerised machines simply cannot offer this as they rely completely on the operator’s ability and experience.
How will my skin look after the treatment?
Skin reaction ranges from slight pinkness and swelling to a strong erythema. Reaction is usually gone by the time you reach your next destination – particularly if the cataphoresis procedure is applied after hair removal. Again, this is built-in to all Apilus machines.
How soon can I wash the treated area?
On the night of your treatment, clean the area with gentle facial wash. Do this morning and evening for two days following the treatment or as long as any skin reaction remains.
What about makeup, how soon can I wear it again?
You can generally begin wearing makeup 24 hours after your treatment. However, if you use a good mineral make-up (powder-based), you can use this immediately. Please discuss this at the time of your appointment. If you forget all this, don’t worry! You will receive written aftercare instructions at the time.
Do I have to avoid the sun for months?
No, just be sure that you do not have an active sunburn when you come for treatment. Also, don’t go into any source of extreme heat or direct sunlight for the first 24 hours following your treatment. After the first 24 hours, or as long as any reaction is visible, always use a sun screen with an SPF of 25 or higher on the treated area(s).
Who is electrolysis suitable for?
Unlike the LASER hair removal method, our method safely provides permanent hair removal on all skin types and all shades of skin pigmentation. And electrolysis is not just for women. Men may have treatment for a variety of reasons. All ages, from teens to the older individual can be successfully treated. Men and women of all ages have electrolysis. Treatments can be done virtually anywhere on the body.
I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Will electrolysis help me?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or Polycystic Ovarian Disorder (PCOD) is a relatively common condition in women, affecting about one in ten. Electrolysis is effective in permanently removing the hair that has already become a problem.
However, if you are not on medication to treat the underlying cause of the condition that prompted the hair to grow, the fine, light fuzzy hair on your face can be stimulated by your hormone imbalance, to become coarse and dark.
Can a pregnant woman have electrolysis?
While the old electrolysis that creates ‘lye’ is generally contra-indicated during pregnancy, short wave thermolysis and Flash thermolysis have not been found to be a problem. A pregnant woman should check with her doctor and follow his/her orders.
Always inform your electrologist if you think you might be pregnant, as the cataphoresis procedure can be offered following the treatment and that portion of the treatment is still contraindicated during pregnancy.
What about children under 18?
While electrolysis is safe for almost any age, it is only recommended for children who have entered puberty. Treatment can be very successful because often children haven’t plucked the hairs or used other techniques that may lengthen the course of electrolysis. In all cases, patients under the age of 18 must have the written consent of his/her parent for treatment.
Is electrolysis recommended for mature skin?
Yes, it is safe and effective for mature skin. The only complaint I hear from our older patients is that they wish that they had started treatment earlier to have more years to enjoy their attractive, hairless skin!
I heard that it takes a long time, is that true?
It used to take a couple of years of dedicated appointments but, with the newest equipment, the area is usually finished in less than a year. Generally, if a person takes treatments according to recommendation, does not have a hormone imbalance, is not taking a medication which would affect hair growth, and has no medical condition or tumour which would affect hair growth, the treatment series could range from six months to a year. This also depends on the size of the area being treated.
- Find out more on the Electrolysis page or ask us a question by filling out the Contact Form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.