Electrolysis is a commonly used process for removing unwanted hair from many areas of the body. Frequently targeted areas include the face, neck, shoulders, arms, underarms, breasts, abdomen, legs, chest, bikini line, and back.
If performed correctly by a qualified professional, electrolysis can provide permanent results. During electrolysis, a very thin needle is inserted into the follicle, or growth center, of the hair. The process works by destroying the follicle through the use of a mild electrical current. Once the hair follicle is destroyed, the hair is removed with tweezers. Because the follicle has been destroyed, that hair cannot grow back.
Unwanted hair growth can be very troubling to some individuals. A thick growth of hair on a woman's upper lip or a man's back, for example, may cause embarrassment or self-consciousness. Affected by hormone levels, genetics, certain medications and some illnesses, such hair may prompt a desire to undergo electrolysis in order to solve the problem once and for all. While electrolysis is almost always performed for cosmetic reasons, in rare instances it can be a medical necessity. In the unusual circumstances in which infection makes permanent hair removal crucial, electrolysis may be covered by insurance.
Electrolysis is a safe, effective treatment, approved by the FDA and the American Medical Association as a permanent process of hair removal. Any healthy individual may have electrolysis, with the notable exception of people who have implanted pacemakers. The procedure is not recommended, however, for those wishing to remove hair from inside the nose or ears.
Electrolysis may be slightly uncomfortable, although the discomfort is short-lived and modern methods have reduced most sensations to a mild tingling. If necessary, a topical anesthetic may be applied. Each individual hair follicle is typically destroyed about 20 seconds after coming into contact with the needle. Usually the treatment takes multiple sessions, the number varying from patient to patient. Each session lasts between 15 minutes and one hour. After a few weeks, the disappearance of unwanted hair becomes noticeable. Immediately after a treatment session, the skin may be red or swollen, but this effect usually disappears quickly. Possible complications of electrolysis, including skin color changes, scarring or infection, are possible but rarely occur.