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Electrolysis Hair Removal

Remove unwanted hair, permanently


Procedure Summary

Surgery Type:


Procedure Duration:

4 - 16 hours (multiple sessions)

Expected Results:

Removal of unwanted hair.

Recovery Duration:

24 hours

First used:

1875 in the USA

Results Duration:




Average UK Cost:

£20 per 15 minute session

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Electrolysis is a method of killing off individual hairs using a targeted electric current so that they never grow again. The process works by passing a small current along a very fine sterilised needle into the hair follicle. The localised ‘electric shock’ cuts off the blood and nutrition supply to the hair, preventing any new growth.

Epilation (hair removal) by electricity was first carried out by the American eye specialist Charles E. Michel in 1875 to treat a condition where the eyelash grows abnormally and can irritate the eyeball. The thorough, but slow, method used by Michel destroyed the hair by creating a chemical reaction at the root. This is called ‘galvanic’ electrolysis and it is rarely used nowadays.

A later innovation was ‘short-wave diathermy’, which relied on heat to kill the hair. This was a faster method than galvanic, but not as thorough. More recent advances in technology have led to the diathermy and the galvanic methods being combined to give a treatment that delivers the best possible results.

Is electrolysis right for you?

After undergoing electrolysis, the treated area should be left completely free of hair. ElectrolysisIt can be a permanent procedure, so it is essential that you are certain about the procedure before you have it done. In addition, electrolysis requires a commitment on your part as it may take many sessions to achieve the desired result, sometimes lasting months. “The therapist carrying out the electrolysis on my upper lip said I’d need to see her weekly until she could be certain that she’d managed to zap every hair,” said one young woman. “She explained that hair has growth phases, and that the it needed to grow to at least 2mm long before she could treat it, and weekly appointments would allow her to locate and destroy every single hair.”

Some people are simply not allowed to undergo electrolysis. For instance, anyone pregnant, using a pacemaker or with a skin disease affecting the area to be treated will not be given the treatment. Your particular suitability for electrolysis will be discussed during your initial consultation with the practitioner.

Even after undergoing ‘permanent’ electrolysis, some patients will find that they need further treatments after a time due to hormonal changes causing hair to regrow, or activating hair follicles that were dormant at the time of the treatment.

Undergoing electrolysis treatment

The therapist will insert a fine needle directly into the hair follicle and deliver a very low electric current. The follicle is a better electrical conductor than the actual hair, thus causing the follicle to heat up to such an extent that the root is destroyed, allowing the hair to be removed whole. Each hair will be treated several times to ensure it cannot grow again.

Hairs growing from follicles that were not active at the time of treatment will need to be tackled when they are active, meaning that a course of treatments will be needed before the area is completely free from hair. The total amount of time necessary to treat specific areas varies. However, to give you a guide, an upper lip could require anything from 4-10 hours; armpits 4-12 hours; and a bikini line 8-16 hours.

Afterwards, you will feel fine and be okay to return to work and take part in normal activities. There may be some redness and minor swelling immediately after the treatment, but this will soon pass. As one patient commented, “I booked a day off work for my first treatment, but I needn’t have bothered. I came out looking and feeling fine, just a bit flushed, but no more than I do when I’ve been running for the bus.”

Possible problems include infection, particularly the reactivation of cold sores if you are a sufferer, alterations in skin pigmentation and minor scarring.  These risks are all very rare and, considering that thousands of electrolysis treatments are carried out each year, when it is performed by a qualified practitioner, and when the patient complies with all pre and post treatment advice, the results are typically successful.

Who should carry out your electrolysis?

Electrolysis can be carried out by trained beauty therapists as well as medical staff. Typical costs are £20 per 15 minute session (see above for a guide to the number of sessions required). If electrolysis is something that you are considering, you can discuss all of the issues mentioned here in greater depth during a consultation with a trained and experienced practitioner.

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