I had electrolysis done a few weeks ago and while I thought I had done my research and knew what to expect about the procedure and its effectiveness I learnt a few things along the way. If you would like to learn about my experience as well as where I got the process done in Abuja you can read about it here.
In this post I will go into some detail about what electrolysis works, the numbers of the session you need, some of the side effects, its effectiveness and why it might fail.
What is it?
Electrolysis is the only recognised permanent method of hair removal. It involves passing a low-level electrical current through each hair follicle using a metal probe. Electrolysis involves the insertion of a very fine, disposable sterile probe into the hair follicle. A small electrical current is passed into the follicle this damages the follicle and prevents new hair growth.
Types of electrolysis
There are two main types of electrolysis available on the market galvanic and thermolysis electrolysis
This is a 150-year-old method of electrolysis which uses a chemical reaction to destroy the hair follicle with a direct electrical current. A needle is inserted into the hair follicle and a small electric charge is administered. This reacts with the saline found at the base of the hair follicle and produces sodium hydroxide ( lye). The presence of the lye then permanently destroys the hair follicle and prevent hair from re-growing. The process is extremely time-consuming and needs at least 3 minutes per hair and is best suited to thick hair e.g. beards body hair.
Thermolysis (Shortwave Diathermy)
This is a newer method which uses an alternating current to create heat which destroys the hair follicle. The needle transmits the current which destroys the target hair follicles and typically takes a few seconds per hair. It is the most commonly used method because it is very fast and effective.
Blend(Combination of both)
This uses a combination of galvanic electrolysis and thermolysis, utilizing a double-action method. The blend uses a combination of heat and current to speed up the galvanic chemical reaction to destroy the hair follicle. This method is slightly slower than thermolysis but is very effective and often used to treat difficult areas.
The science behind how the process works
Before my procedure, I believed that it required just one session. However, this is not the case, to get the permanent hair removal with electrolysis you need 3 sessions or more. All of which is related to the hair growth cycles explained below.
Hair growth cycles and electrolysis
All hairs on your body grow in cycles with each hair follicle being on its own separate cycle. There are three stages of growth, anagen(growth phase), catagen(end of growth phase ) and telogen(resting phase), as well as a period of time where a follicle can stay dormant.
To understand how electrolysis works we need to understand the hair growth phases. The anagen phase is the hair growth period which varies depending on the body part. Which is why they never grow past a certain length, some hairs are in anagen for as little as six weeks while others can last up to three years like the hair on your head. The catagen and telogen phases are when the hair follicle becomes dormant and is not actively growing anymore and the hairs typically will fall out on their own.
Why is this important for electrolysis? Hairs in the dormant phase are not attached to a hair follicle which means the electrical current cannot destroy the hair follicle. This means the hairs will grow back and why you need more than one session to get the area completely hairless.
Permanent hair removal, requires several treatments because the hair follicles in the skin are in different growth phases.
So the follow-up sessions are scheduled 6-8 weeks apart, to allow the hairs in the dormant phase time to move to the growth phase when the procedure is effective.
What does the procedure involve?
The area to be treated is numbed, with local anaesthesia and is left on for an hour to reduce the pain of the procedure. The process involved inserting a needle into the hair follicle, passing electrical current into the follicle for a few seconds then pulling out the hair with a pair of tweezers.
Electrolysis does not require much aftercare needed, you can use an ointment to soothe your irritated skin
Who does it work best for?
Electrolysis can work for everyone irrespective of skin and hair colour, unlike laser hair removal( more on that in another post). However, it tends to work best for areas with less dense hairs because the process is time-consuming. Because each hair follicle is being treated individually areas with a lot of hair take a significant amount of time.
How Many Electrolysis Sessions Will I Need?
Many factors influence hair growth, so you will need to return for several electrolysis visits. The total number of sessions needed to remove hair permanently from a particular area will vary from person to person.
- It is permanent
- Works on every skin tone and all hair types
- It is suitable for any area of the body — including the eyebrows.
- There is no recovery time you can resume your daily activities immediately after
- Requires no maintenance, once you complete your sessions
- It does not require any harsh chemicals
- It has the best track record. Electrolysis has the best overall results compared to any other methods when it comes to getting rid of hair permanently.
Some of the most common side effects of electrolysis include
- Scabs on the areas which lasts a few days only last a few days
- Acne breakouts but will disappear a few days
- Skin dryness which will last for a few days
- The more severe side effects occur if the technician is inexperienced and include scarring, keloids and skin discolouration.
- It requires several sessions especially for larger areas
- There is some pain and discomfort and there is a need for pain relief
Cost: N40,000- N80,000 Per session
Where can you get it?
Here is the definitive guide to electrolysis. Is electrolysis a procedure you would like to try, check out my own experience here? Let me know in the comments and if you have any questions.