Permanent Hair Removal - Electrolysis

Electrolysis is recognized as giving complete and permanent hair removal by the FDA. It works on all hair colors and types and permanent hair removal for most consumers if performed correctly although which requires considerable training and skill.

Permanent Hair Removal - Electrolysis

A small probe is gently inserted into each individual hair follicle, the patient will not feel the probe going in and there is no pain associated with this. Once the probe is in the hair follicle, the electrolysis delivers a mild electric current to destroy the cells around the hair follicle. This is the part that can be very painful for a few seconds since the electric current which stimulates nerves that are present near the hair.

Some technicians apply a topical pain killer which can help alleviate the pain from each jolt. The hair absorbs the energy, which travels to the hair growth cells, causing them to die, permanently destroying further growth, while the skin is not punctured or harmed. Depending on skin type sensitivity, some clients may experience some redness and slight swelling immediately following treatment which typically resolves itself within an hour or two of treatment.

Thanks to its destructive success, electrolysis is the only hair removal system considered permanent by the FDA and the AMA. However, as it targets hair follicles individuals and very painful, electrolysis is only an useful technique for treating small areas quickly and efficiently, it is not usually suitable for removing hair from large areas.

Electrolysis is not a one time process, the complete removal of hair takes between 1 and 4 years, with an average time of 2 years. Usually patients require between 15-30 half-hour sessions for best results. Each session costs approximately $60.

Costs of Electrolysis

It is costly and time-consuming. Electrolysis is charged according to the length of the appointment time. The amount of time needed depends on a number of factors, most importantly the number of hairs to be removed. Since achieving permanent hair removal takes time, this allows the cost to be spread out over time also.

  Avg. No.of Treatments Avg. Cost/Treatment Avg. Total Cost
Area Electrolysis Laser Electrolysis Laser Electrolysis Laser
Upper lip 20 - 45
(15 min. each)
4 - 8
(5 min. each)
$15 - $30 $50 - $150 $450 - $1035 $400 - $800
Bikini line 20 - 45
(30 min. each)
4 - 8
(10-15 min. each)
$25 - $65 $150 - $350 $900 - $2025 $1000 - $2000
Full legs 100 - 225
(1 hour each)
4 - 8
(1-2 hours each)
$45 - $125 $1000 - $2000 $8500 - $19125 $6000 - $12000
Full back 100 - 225
(1 hour each)
4 - 10
(1 hour each)
$45 - $125 $750 - $1100 $8500 - $19125 $3700 - $9250

Type of Electrolysis

There are three type of electrolysis, properly used, all the methods are capable of the same result.

1. Galvanic Electrolysis


The galvanic method works by using a Direct Current (DC) of electricity. When the needle is inserted, the electricity coming down the needle causes the salt and water in the skin around the probe to be chemically altered. Salt, water and electricity combine to produce a small amount of sodium hydroxide. If enough is produced, this solution can damage the cells that cause hair growth. The chemical reaction is expressed like this :

NaCl (Salt) + H2O (Water) + Direct Current = NaOH (Sodium Hydroxide) + Cl (Chlorine) + H (Hydrogen)

2. Thermolysis/Diathermy/Short Wave Electrolysis


The thermolysis method, also known as diathermy or short wave, works by using an Alternating Current (AC) of electricity. This electricity causes the water molecules in the skin around the needle to vibrate, which creates heat. If enough heat is produced, it can damage the cells that cause hair growth.

3. Blend Electrolysis


The Blend Method combines both the Short Wave and Galvanic procedures. Sodium hydroxide is created and is then heated by the electricity. This heat, plus the chemical solution, then destroys the hair tissue. Theoretically, blend is more effective than other methods if performed correctly. Blend is recommended by several experts, but electrologist skill is by far the most important factor in safe and effective treatment.


  • Permanent. It is the only approved by the FDA for permanent hair removal. By far the best and longest track record of result
  • Over 125 years of clinically safety effectiveness.


  • Can be expensive.
  • Can be time-consuming.
  • Can be painful.
  • Can be difficult for large amounts of hair.
  • If done improperly, it can result in: partial to full regrowth ; lasting skin damage ; spread of infection.
  • Can discolor the skin, electricity damage the capillaries in the surrounding area cause hyperpigmentation of the skin
  • Regulation varies by state, so inadequate controls exist to ensure competent practitioners.
  • Regrowth rates have not been accurately established and cannot be predicted due to numerous variables.
  • Some consumers do not respond to treatment.

Clinical Data

Following a long absence from medical literature, electrolysis was once again taken up as an issue worthy of research in the latter part of the 20th century.

Electrolysis improperly performed or performed on non-normal skin can cause scarring, spread infection, and potentially cause isomorphic outbreaks or spread of lesions.

One well-designed study found that about 2% of women under 50 who seek electrolysis have an undiagnosed glucose intolerance. Two studies, one small and one large, respectively demonstrated that 90% to 93% of consumers have satisfactory results

Two well-designed Japanese studies demonstrate permanence in treating underarms. The thermolysis study showed "little to no regrowth" at 6 to 36 months after 3 to 8 treatments to the underarm. The blend study observed no regrowth at 6 months after 7 to 14 treatments, while comparative plucking resulted in no significant hair removal at 6 months.

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