This is our information hub for electrolysis hair removal treatment. This page should hopefully answer all questions which you could possibly have on electrolysis. We’ve answered some of the most common questions in more detail below.
- Price – What can influence price, the different pricing methods, and a full cost list for treatment.
- How Painful is it? – The pain you’re likely to face during electrolysis & ways to reduce it.
- Does it Work on Everyone? – What the FDA think of electrolysis and the results you can achieve.
- Side Effects – A list of the potential problems associated with electrolysis.
- Is It Permanent? – Explains why electrolysis is permanent compared to the other methods.
1. What is Electrolysis?
2. How Does it Work?
3. Who is it For?
4. Popularity & Trends
5. How Long Does it Last?
6. How Much is it?
7. Does it Hurt?
8. Safety & Risks
9. Compared With Laser Hair Removal
10. Can Everyone Get it?
11. Extra Resources
What is Electrolysis?
If you are looking for a more permanent way to get rid of your body hair vs some of the other methods, then electrolysis could be the answer. The method isn’t as common as some others but has proved to be the only 100% permanent solution to getting rid of all the hairs on your body, or part of your body. It’s the process of inserting a needle into a hair follicle and completely destroying it with electricity.
Effectiveness : Very High
Typical Cost : $300 – +1000
Sessions Needed : 1-8+ (highly variable)
Treatment Time : High
Ideally electrolysis doesn’t need a series of sessions on the same area, like laser hair removal, but it typically it will take longer to treat your whole body. This is because each individual follicle needs to be treated one by one. However once a follicle has been properly treated it will not produce hair ever again. This is unless the practitioner misses a hair follicle. That’s why we said ideally; the technology works perfectly, but due to human limitations 100% hair removal may not be achieved in one pass.
It’s more painful, potentially more expensive, and certainly more time consuming. But it’s the only way you can get 100% permanent hair removal. Does this seem like a good trade off to you? That’s for you to decide when thinking about your hair removal options. Remember to fully consult with professionals before making any decisions.
How Does it Work?
Electrolysis applies the use of electric currents. A needle is usually inserted directly into the hair follicle and a current is passed through it. This completely destroys the follicle so it can never be repaired. The hair should then slide out, or fall out by itself.
The procedure gets around the biological fact that hair grows and develops in different stages – a major problem with laser hair removal. Body hair is never in the same stage at the same time. It’s not always growing and is sometimes in a resting phase. This is the reason that other methods of hair removal can be ineffective – you can’t pluck or remove hair if it’s not growing! With electrolysis this isn’t as important – each hair follicle can be treated whether it has a hair in it or not. However it is harder to see a hair follicle when there isn’t hair growing out of it.
Who is it For?
The treatment works best for those who want 100% permanent hair removal on an area of their body. Or those who have tried other hair removal methods, like laser hair removal, but have not really got the desired results. Laser hair removal only provides a permanent reduction in hair growth. And it may need top up sessions. It’s also good for those who can’t have laser hair removal because of dark skin / blonde / ginger hair.
It’s also seen as a effective treatment to those with hirsutism (a abnormal hair growth on a woman’s face and body). The following study seems to point to electrolysis being a great long term treatment, where as laser hair removal does get better short term results, longer term it isn’t as effective. Read the report here.
Additionally, it’s often an essential part of gender reassignment surgery. Sometimes laser hair removal just isn’t up to the job because of its lack of permanency. Because of the extensive changes and surgical procedures hair growth can cause medical issues if it results in hair growth inside the body. This is especially true in the genital region. It’s also used as a permanent form of hair removal, often on the face where hair can be especially course and therefore laser hair removal isn’t very effective.
Popularity & Trends
We can see that initially, perhaps due to the rise of laser hair removal, electrolysis declined in popularity. However it has remained steady ever since perhaps pointing to its success as the only permanent method of hair removal. This is something people still very much want and need.
Here is a chart showing the most popular places in the world for electrolysis:
How Long Does it Last?
The treatment is 100% permanent if performed correctly. However certain follicles may be missed which is very easily done when considering how small they are. Also not all follicles will be growing hairs at any one given time, so can be hard to see. Consequently a second or third batch of treatments after the initial series is complete, may be needed to guarantee all the hairs in a certain area are gone.
In reality treatments will be done over several sessions, even for smaller areas. For larger areas such as the back of a man, the treatment is likely to be completed over years not months.
How Much is it?
Price depends on a number of factors such as the size of the area to be treated, the reputation of the clinic, and the area of the country the clinic is located. However to get a rough idea you can expect to pay $125-160 for a small area like the eyebrows, $450-600 for a medium area like the bikini area and $2000+ for a large are like the back. You’ll usually need an extra treatment to get some of the missed hairs, but this should be cheaper than the initial treatment.
Does it Hurt?
Electrolysis does sound quite painful when you know how it works. A needle going into your hair follicle and then having a current run through does sound painful. However the treatment has progressed substantially and is now on par with receiving a tattoo. Different parts of the body are more sensitive than others, so the face will be more painful than the legs. Numbing cream is frequently used to further reduce pain.
Safety & Risks
Electrolysis needs to be performed by an expert. In many states it’s regulated. This means to provide electrolysis you need certain training or a licence. As you can imagine it needs a great deal of skill getting the needle properly into the follicle. Letting someone perform the treatment who doesn’t know what they’re doing is always going to be dangerous. So always ask about the experience of the practitioner. For example as about:
- Their training.
- How many procedures they’ve performed.
- Their qualifications.
If the procedure is done incorrectly there should be minimal side effects besides minor reddening, bruising and scabbing. In rare cases there may be some minor pigmentation change.
More serious complication can arise if the practitioner is untrained. For example swelling of the hair follicle can cause scarring, although this is easily avoided if the practitioner knows how. As with any treatment which involves breaking of the skin, infection is always a risk. Performing the treatment in sanitary conditions can help minimize this risk.
Compared With Laser Hair Removal
Electrolysis is ideal for those who want to permanently get rid of their hairs. It may cost more, and take longer to perform, since with lasers much larger areas can be treated with each burst. But there’s 100% assurance of permanent hair removal if done properly. This is something the other types of hair removal can’t claim.
Laser hair removal does work well in general, however some people, even if the patient is a perfect candidate, are disappointed with the results. This is to do with the complexity of the treatment. However this doesn’t occur with electrolysis. It’s much more consistent and reliable.
Even though electrolysis is costly overall you can break it down into several smaller, cheaper, sessions. They will be more manageable in terms of cost, and time taken. Because electrolysis is quite painful it’s not advisable to spend too long receiving the treatment in one session anyway. Unlike laser hair removal you should get your treatments over the course of a few years. But once they’re done, you should be hairless on that area forever.
In a way it depends how dedicated you are to hair removal, with electrolysis being the ultimate approach with the best long term benefit. If you just want to quickly reduce the amount of hair growth over you body, then laser hair removal is probably the superior option.
Can Everyone Get it?
The other advantage of using electrolysis as your choice of hair removal is it works regardless of your skin type and your hair color. Not everyone can use laser hair removal because it can cause damage to their skin. Electrolysis is however much safer when it comes to the risk of skin being burnt. It doesn’t target the skin pigmentation – it directly attacks the hair follicles.
So this means if you have darker tones of skin the treatment will work just as well. Also if your hair is ginger, blonde, gray (or other shades with minimal dark tones), again the treatment will work fine.
Towards the end of the video you can see the hair removal treatment in progress.