WHAT IS ELECTROLYSIS HAIR REMOVAL?
Electrolysis is the only form of epilation, or hair removal, classified by the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration) as permanent.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Electrolysis takes its name from the electro-chemical reaction at the core of the electrolysis treatment. Its full name is Galvanic Electrolysis. The galvanic part comes from the original name for what we now know as a battery – a Galvanic Cell.
HOW DOES ELECTROLISIS WORK?
Most chemical reactions take place between ingredients that readily react together to release energy and form new compounds, but many useful chemical reactions require a bit of encouragement through heat or electricity. Such reactions are much easier to control by simply regulating the amount of heat or electricity applied.
In the case of the electro-chemical reaction in Electrolysis, a negative current is applied to the hair follicle and any moisture present in the follicle is gradually converted into sodium hydroxide (commonly known as lye) over a few minutes. Lye is highly reactive in the presence of organic compounds (in this case, skin). Fortunately, the amount of lye produced is miniscule and highly targeted to the area it is intended to work on beneath the skin.
HOW IS ELECTROLISIS DONE?
A conductive pad is attached to the client’s arm or leg to allow a circuit to be completed between the client and the machine.
The clinician slides a hair-thin metal probe into each targeted hair follicle, this is not painful as they are literally the size of a human hair and cannot be felt as they slide into the follicle alongside the target hair. Contrary to the popular misconception, these probes are not needles. In fact they are completely blunt in order to prevent puncturing the skin but, at just 0.05mm to 0.15mm in thickness.
In several minutes, a tiny current is passed through the probe inserted into the hair follicle to convert moisture into lye. The probe is then removed along with the entire hair which will come out effortlessly.
Today’s galvanic electrolysis machines are highly automated and run up to 32 probes consecutively allowing a good clinician to successfully treat over 200 hairs per hour.
WHY DOES IT WORK?
Right up until the 1990s it had been a mystery why treatment with Galvanic Electrolysis proved to be permanent and far more effective than alternatives. Researchers in South Korea were finally able to provide an answer when they demonstrated that hair follicles with both the hair and root removed (i.e.: with the bottom third of the follicle removed) were able to regenerate new hairs from stem cells located in an area of the follicle called the bulge.
Unlike other methods of hair removal, Galvanic Electrolysis destroys the bulge as well as the hair and its root. Other methods will only achieve this when the hair happens to be in its growth phase. (only about 10% of hairs at any one time)
WHY ARE DIFFERENT TECHNIQUES ALL CALLED ELECTROLYSIS?
Terms like multi-needle electrolysis, single-needle electrolysis, thermolysis or blend are all often found grouped under the heading “Electrolysis” and this can be confusing.
Multi-needle electrolysis is simply another name for Galvanic Electrolysis which uses up to 32 probes at once. The term came about to distinguish it from single-needle electrolysis.
Single-needle electrolysis is not truly an electrolytic process at all. It is a common name for Thermolysis. The name came about simply because the equipment and technique look superficially similar to Electrolysis. Thermolysis uses heat from microwave energy to destroy and remove hairs.
Blend is also a single-probe technique. It attempts to increase the effectiveness of Thermolysis by combining it with true electrolysis. Clinical trials have never shown any measurable difference in effectiveness between Blend and Thermolysis.
Unlike some methods of hair removal, the Permanence Method of galvanic multi-probe electrolysis can be used on all parts of the body – even on tattoos, moles and sensitive areas of the skin.
It is important that the skin’s healing process be allowed to run its natural course. Be patient. If the skin does become inflamed or infected, use a clean cotton swab to gently wipe the area regularly with hydrogen peroxide (3% W/V).
If the infected area has to be covered by clothing, also apply a thin protective coating of Bepanthen Cream Balm and cover if necessary to prevent chaffing.
Should the area be more severely inflamed, seek advice immediately from your doctor.
ACCELERATING YOUR HEALING
Some of us heal slower, bruise more easily or are more susceptible to scarring either through age, diabetes, or for reasons unknown. If this is you, feedback from our clients says Arnica tablets may assist with the healing process.
Even destroying such a tiny part of the body as a follicle’s mechanism for regrowing a hair will trigger the body’s healing response and nearly all treatment reactions are simply the body’s healing processes in action. Reactions such as redness, swelling or tiny scab formation should be viewed as the actions of healthy skin repairing itself as fast as possible.
COMMON TREATMENT AREA REACTIONS
The treatment area is the site on your skin where probes are inserted to permanently remove problem hair.
• Redness of the skin over the treatment area
• Swelling of the skin in the treatment area and nearby
• Small scab formation over some of the hair follicles where probes have been inserted
• Bruising in or near the treatment area
COMMON ELECTRODE REACTIONS
A damp pad is used as an electrode in electrolysis to return the current used by the probes back to the machine powering them and complete the circuit. The pad is often strapped to an arm or leg. Around the electrode you may experience:
• An Eczema-like reaction
TREATMENT-AREA REACTIONS IN DETAIL
Redness is caused by blood vessels in the skin expanding to increase blood flow. This helps the body repair damage and remove waste material as fast as possible. This reaction will only last a few hours at most.
Redness can be countered by applying ice packs. These are available at the clinic on request and it is a good idea to have some at home for use as required. Ice works by slightly numbing the treatment area and by triggering the skin’s natural response to severe cold which is to constrict blood vessels.
Swelling is caused by blood vessels deeper in the skin expanding to increase blood flow. Swelling may actually increase in the period immediately after treatment but disappear within a few hours. It is important not to ignore swelling as, especially in more mature skin, swelling can lead to bruising as fine blood vessels leak under the increased blood pressure.
Swelling will reduce rapidly with the application of ice packs to encourage the blood vessels to contract. Ice packs are always available in the clinic on request. Keep some at home to use as required.
Scabbing is a natural part of the healing process though it is more frequent on dry rather than oily skin. Scabs are a protective “scaffold” over the skin to protect it from infection and to retain nutrients where they are most needed. Removing scabs can lead to infection and a slowing of the healing process. In some cases, removing scabs can result in scarring.
The first time you cleanse the skin after treatment you may find what appear to be scabs coming away from the skin. These are most likely only coagulated oils from treated follicles. It is important that scabs that do not come away, or that reappear after this, are left in place.
Regular application of Bepanthan Cream will assist in the healing process.
Occasionally one or more tiny bruises may appear in the treatment area. These occur when an electrolysis probe affects a capillary (small blood vessel) feeding the follicle.
Expect the bruising to fade over a few days. From feedback from some of our clients, the application of Arnica ointment may speed the process.
MENOPAUSE – HOW ELECTROLISIS CAN HELP
Unwanted hair will have different characteristics for every woman. On the face it will vary from a few hairs on the chin, light growth on the upper lip through to heavy beard-like growth. Menopause is inextricably linked with unwanted hair growth because both are caused by the same hormonal changes. Some medications, including hormone replacement products, may also contribute to a degree of facial and body hair.
The key hormone controlling the type of hair you grow, either fine peach-fuzz (vellus) or thick, dark (terminal) hair is an androgen called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Higher DHT levels cause hair to convert from growing vellus hair to terminal hair production. During your reproductive years, the higher relative levels of oestrogen keep production of DHT low. However, as menopause sets in and oestrogen levels drop, DHT increases.
It is at this point that you may begin to see frustratingly wiry hairs on the face and outbreaks of male-pattern body hair. Unfortunately, once a hair follicle converts from growing vellus to terminal hair there is no going back and the only solution is to permanently kill the follicle. Plucking, waxing and laser can only remove the hair stem and, in the case of laser, do some damage to the bulb from which it grows, but in each case the hair will recover and eventually grow back.
The galvanic multi-probe electrolysis is guaranteed to kill terminal hairs at the bulb, destroy the bulge from which it regenerates, and prevent regrowth.
Our therapists can put together a treatment plan that will see your beauty and confidence restored and banish this most visible sign of menopause permanently.