Electrolysis – a Permanent Form of Hair Removal?

January 3, 2011 in Hair Removal 101,Electrolysis

Individuals with red, blonde and white hair, who have been told that laser hair removal will not work on them, may also have been told that electrolysis could be their only option when it comes to permanent hair removal. But those with lighter hair colors are not the only ones that can undergo electrolysis; in fact, electrolysis can be performed on nearly anyone and has a reputation for being permanent. But whether electrolysis is really permanent or not has been a hot topic for many years in the industry, and while some people might be skeptic, it is the only treatment that has been recognized by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) as permanent.

Electrolysis is a hair removal method in which a fine needle shaped metal probe is inserted into the hair follicle. This probe carries an electric current, which destroys the hair follicle at the root. Just like in laser hair removal, several sessions will be needed to treat all hairs, since hair grows in three different stages. Electrolysis is different from lasers because it does not seek out the pigment, or color, of the hair, but rather attacks the hair follicle itself. This means that the color of the hair is irrelevant, and electrolysis can efficiently treat any hair color.

Unlike most other hair removal methods, electrolysis has a reputation for being a permanent form of removing hair. But since there are no guarantees in any hair removal, there is always a small risk that the hairs will grow back at some point, often due to changes in the body that no one can foresee or control, such as hormonal changes. What this means is that hairs are likely to disappear for a longer period of time, several years or decades, but touch up sessions can be needed in order to eliminate any re-growth.

While electrolysis definitely seems like the perfect solution to eliminating unwanted hair, it does come with disadvantages. Since each hair follicle needs to be treated separately, electrolysis becomes a time consuming process, and as many as 15-30 sessions is not rare. Because of this, treating larger areas is unpractical and electrolysis is mostly used to eliminate hairs on the chin, upper lip and eyebrow areas. Also, there is a small risk of skin damage, such as scarring, pitting or enlarged pores. This risk becomes larger if the practitioner who will be performing the treatment is inexperienced.

Electrolysis is also oftentimes experienced as painful. The pain will be the most prominent right when the needle is inserted into the follicle and is likely to feel like a sting. Numbing creams are usually not used, but it is possible to take a painkiller before treatment. Despite its disadvantages, electrolysis is the only hair removal method that can lead to permanent removal of hair, which is the reason it is still popular, especially for facial areas.

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