Don’t you sometimes wish you could just make hair in certain places disappear forever? Removing unwanted hair for the sake of a clean look and radiantly smooth skin can be such a hassle! It’s a frustrating feeling to see hairs growing back quicker than we thought or having to take more time than we want to tweeze our eyebrows to perfection.
Electrolysis, which is the only method of permanent hair removal, just might be the answer to your wish. Her Campus has the lowdown for you on exactly on what the process is and what you should know before deciding whether or not it’s right for you!
What is electrolysis?
Dr. Joshua Gordon, M.D., director and CEO of Nios Spa, explained the details of the process to us. He said, “Electrolysis is the only FDA-approved process for permanent hair removal. A flexible probe goes through the natural hair follicle opening and a minute amount of heat is sent through to the base of the hair follicle, destroying hair growth tissue. After complete treatment, growth is stopped forever.”
Nancy Star, CPE, owner of and professional electrologist at Abracadabra Electrolysis, said that there are three kinds of electrolysis used dependent upon the hair type of the patient:
- Blend: Combination of Galvanic & Blend
Star noted that the kind of electrolysis you should get is dependent upon the kind of hair you have in the area from which you wish to get it removed. Star noted that galvanic has been particularly effective for treating areas with curly or kinky hair while short-wave/thermolysis seems to work better with straight hair.
What does it feel like? Does it hurt?
It’s different for everyone, depending upon the individual’s pain threshold and what area is being treated. For example, the lips are generally a more sensitive area. “It feels a little bit like tweezing a hair, maybe a little bit more pain than a small prick,” Dr. Gordon explained.
He observed the vast majority of his patients were comfortable. Most centers have different tricks they use to help patients deal with the discomfort or pain—anything from the settings of the machine to numbing creams. Generally, the power and duration of the electricity are initially put at the lowest setting and then increased until the hair comes out as easily as possible. If the patient expresses pain or discomfort, the settings can be lowered. During your appointments prior to treatment, your electrologist might also recommend creams such as Emla Cream or LMX, which are usually applied 1-2 hours prior to your treatment appointment to help numb the area being treated.
What areas can it remove hair from?
Almost anywhere! “Electrolysis can be done for any part of the body that has hair follicles except mucous membranes such as the nose,” Dr. Gordon told us.
Popular areas include the face (moustaches/sideburns/chin/eyebrows), armpits, bikini line, legs, back and abdomen.
What about laser hair removal? Isn’t that permanent too? What’s the difference?
Dr. Gordon discussed the advantages of electrolysis over laser treatment, pointing out that laser is only approved for permanent laser hair reduction not removal, because while it works for some people, it doesn’t for others. With laser, the larger the difference in color from your skin to the hair, the more effective it is. It’s not as effective when the hair color resembles the skin. This isn’t the case with electrolysis, which is equally effective on all skin and hair color combinations. It can also be used to treat mole hair, ingrown hairs, and to shape eyebrows—something that’s either impossible or too difficult to do with laser.