There are essentially two choices when it comes to dealing with unwanted hair:
1. Do it temporarily.
2. Do it permanently!
Temporary methods of hair removal, such as shaving, clipping, plucking, waxing, and depilatories give immediate results, but do not address the source of the problem.
Unwanted hair is actually the “symptom” of an unwanted follicle, and merely destroying the hair does not address the cause of the problem: unless the follicle itself is destroyed, it will simply continue to create “replacement” hairs.
Many people are surprised to learn that electrolysis is not a new procedure; it was developed by an eye doctor in 1875, to help patients troubled by ingrown eyelashes.
It is the only scientifically-proven method of permanent hair removal, and acknowledged as such by the Food and Drug Administration.
In Oregon, all practicing electrologists must be licensed and participate in Continuing Education in order to maintain their status. Practitioners also have the option of membership in professional organizations, such as the American Electrology Association and the Oregon Association of Licensed Electrologists.
Electrolysis is safe and permanent when performed by a trained and licensed professional, and physicians and dermatologists often make referrals to electrologists for their patients who are dealing with unwanted hair..
Although electrolysis does require some commitment on your part, consider it time and money well-spent, because each treatment brings you one step closer to your goal of having smooth, hair-free skin.
In order to understand how electrolysis works, it’s helpful to take just a quick look at some of the mysteries of hair growth.
Click on each image to get a larger view.
Each hair grows out of a follicle, which is like a tiny pocket in the skin. The hair is nourished by the papilla, a small bundle of blood vessels at the bottom of the follicle.
Each follicle has its own life cycle, which involves the birth, life, and death of the hair, followed by a period of dormancy. Then the whole cycle repeats, over and over, throughout a person’s entire life. Cycles can last anywhere from several weeks to months to years, depending on genetics and location on the body.
At any given moment, your follicles are in all different stages of the life cycle; if you think of this cycle in terms of real estate, it would mean that some of the follicles are occupied, others are posting eviction notices, while the rest are vacant and waiting for their next tenant hair.
On most parts of the body, most of the follicles are these vacant, dormant ones – this means that for every one hair you see, there are many more waiting in the wings.
When you start seeing new hairs coming in a few days after your treatment, it’s important to remember that they are not from the same follicles that were just treated.
The staggered cycles means that there is constant turnover, and new growth is continually coming in.
During the electrolysis treatment, a very slender probe is inserted into the follicle, and an electric current is applied, creating thermal and chemical changes which in turn destroy the follicle.
The hair is then removed with tweezers, and on to the next follicle. This is one reason why the process is so time-consuming: each follicle must be treated individually.
Because the follicle is a natural extension of the skin’s surface, the probe does not pierce the skin. The probe is not heated, and nothing is ever injected into the skin.
After the treatment, it is normal for the skin to be slightly reddened and irritated; this should clear up within a fairly short period of time, but can sometimes last longer, depending on skin sensitivity and amount of hair removed. Occasionally, scabs can occur, but as long as they are left alone, they are harmless and will vanish without a trace.
Be gentle when washing – don’t scrub – and take the time to apply a soothing lotion. Sensitive individuals may want to keep from touching the treated area, to avoid further-irritating the skin.