Electrolysis is the tried and true science of permanent hair removal and is the ONLY form of permanent hair removal recognized by the FDA (www.fda.gov). It is achieved by inserting a fine sterile probe into the hair follicle-an opening in the skin that is already there. Current is then delivered at the base of the follicle (dermal papilla) using one of the 3 recognized modalities of electrolysis that can be used to permanently eliminate unwanted hair:
- Galvanic (direct current): the hair is destroyed by a chemical action. This is the oldest method and utilizes a direct current to produce a chemical reaction that results in the conversion of normal body salt and water in the follicle into a compound (lye) capable of destroying the dermal papilla. Lye is produced only in the follicle and does not affect any other area. Lye is caustic and destroys the hair producing cells by dissolving and liquefying the components of the follicle that produces the hair. Galvanic current was discovered in 1875 by Dr. Charles Michel who removed an ingrown eyelash and it has been used ever since to achieve permanent hair removal.
- Thermolysis (high frequency): the hair root is destroyed by heat production. A high frequency current is used to produce heat in the area influenced by the current. The heat cauterizes through electro-coagulation (cooking) and electro-desiccation (drying) and destroys the dermal papilla. It was developed in the 1920’s by Dr. Bordier of France who wrote the first article on the use of thermolysis for permanent hair removal.
- Blend: a combination of the above 2 modalities where the root is destroyed by both heat and chemical action (lye production) at the same time. The blend combines the galvanic and thermolysis currents together in the same probe. It was invented in 1938 by Henri Saint-Pierre and Arthur Hinkel. Mr. Pierre was a practicing electrologist and Mr. Hinkel was an electrical engineer. Mr. Hinkel designed and constructed the first blend epilator and is credited with developing the blend method. The first blend machine was patented in 1938.
The blend is a technique that when combined with properly balanced currents it produces better results than either current (galvanic or thermolysis) individually. The regenerative ability of the hair follicle is permanently eliminated when the currents are blended properly in accordance with an individual’s specific characteristics (hair type, skin type). The galvanic method is extremely effective but can be slow and time consuming. Thermolysis is faster in that you can clear more hair in a session but with a higher rate of re-growth, there will be more sessions. With blend, the process is more efficient (than just galvanic) AND more effective (than just thermolysis). Thermolysis enhances the galvanic action in 3 ways:
- Increased causticity- the heat produced by the thermolysis (HF) accelerates the chemical reaction resulting in faster lye production, thus making it more efficient.
- Porosity- thermolysis coagulates the tissue making it more porous, allowing the lye to penetrate more deeply into the target areas, and thus making it more effective.
- Increased turbulence- the heating pattern of thermolysis causes agitation within the follicle. As the tissue undergoes electro-coagulation (cooking), the lye has increased movement and is able to flow into all crevices of the follicle, also making it more effective. This is very beneficial when dealing with curved follicles (curly hair).
All 3 modalities are safe and effective. After an evaluation of your hair, skin type and sensitivity, the most appropriate modality will be chosen for your individual needs. Electrolysis is an uncomplicated procedure that when performed correctly leaves the skin looking and feeling smooth, beautiful and free of unwanted hair without scarring and side effects.
Before and After Electrolysis Treatment:
- Eliminate as much stress as possible on the day of the treatment.
- Avoid stimulants like caffeine, sugar or chocolate on the day of your appointment. Your diet can affect your sensitivity.
- Avoid sun exposure for 48 hours prior to your treatment (can cause dilation of blood vessels)
- Female clients may find they are more sensitive during or right before their menstrual cycle and may want to avoid appointments during that time.
- Drink plenty of water the day before, the day of and the day after the treatment. Dehydrated follicles are more difficult to treat. Hydration will also help you skin heal more quickly.
- Many clients find that taking their favorite pain reliever 30 minutes prior to their appointment makes their treatments more comfortable.
- There are many topical creams that are available either with or without prescription. EMLA (by prescription) and LMX (non-prescription) are the most popular. EMLA should be applied an hour before treatment. You should apply generously and cover with a piece of saran wrap.
After Treatment (24 to 72 hours)
- Do not touch the treated area. Touching your skin can transfer bacteria to the treated area and cause a breakout (whiteheads).
- Apply ice cubes locally for redness and swelling.
- Clean with witch hazel or sea breeze for 3 days (morning and night).
- Do not use make-up in the treated area for 24 hours. If absolutely necessary, use medicated make-up.
- Avoid the use of saunas and spas.
- Avoid excessive sweating. Sweat can cause bacteria to enter into the open follicles and cause minor infection. Work out before your treatment if possible instead of after.
- No sunbathing and avoid the sun for 72 hours to help prevent the formation of brown pigment spots. Your skin defends against UV rays by producing pigment, which will deflect some of the harmful rays. If your skin is injured or traumatized it can over-produce pigment in those areas. This can result in hyper-pigmentation. ALWAYS wear sunscreen.
- If scabbing should occur, avoid picking-this can cause scarring. Allow them to fall off naturally. This is nature’s way of healing the follicles that we have treated (the scabs are lymph fluid that has drained out of the follicle and dried up). All materials and instruments used in the treatment have either been sterilized, sanitized or disinfected.
- DO NOT TWEEZE OR WAX before your next appointment. If you are prevented from coming in as soon as you would like for your next appointment, the offending hair can be clipped with scissors or shaved.
- Remember, some-re-growth is to be expected. If you return when the first re-growth occurs, the roots are shorter and weaker and therefore can be treated more effectively.
**It is important that you continue an after-care program at home to help your skin heal and to avoid unnecessary irritation.