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Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Electrolysis for Removing Hair
Electrolysis is a common method of removing unwanted hair. A small
needle or thin metal probe is inserted into the opening of the skin where hair
grows (small sacs beneath the skin called hair follicles). Next, a low-level
electrical current passes through the needle or probe into your skin and
destroys the hair follicle. Hair is unable to grow back in an area where the
follicle has been destroyed.
The process of electrolysis can be slow and can require several
treatment sessions to destroy the hair follicles. Treatment can be
uncomfortable—the feeling is sometimes described as having little rubber bands
snapping at your skin. The destruction of each individual hair follicle may
take from less than 1 second up to 20 seconds.
After electrolysis, your treated skin may temporarily be red,
swollen, and tender. You may need additional treatments to permanently remove
all unwanted hair. You should notice a loss of unwanted hair in the treated
area within several weeks to months after the first treatment.
Electrolysis is done to permanently remove unwanted hair.
Electrolysis is commonly used to remove hair on the face (eyebrows, upper and
lower lips, cheeks, chin, hairline, bridge of the nose between eyebrows, and
sideburns) and also on the neck, shoulders, arms and underarms, breasts,
abdomen, bikini line, legs, back, and chest.
Electrolysis should not be done on the inside of your ears or
nose. It also should never be done to remove hair from a mole or a birthmark.
If you have a pacemaker, you should not have electrolysis on any part of your
When electrolysis is done correctly, it permanently removes
unwanted hair. Successful hair removal depends on the skill of the person
doing the electrolysis.
Electrolysis poses few risks in a healthy person. During
treatment, you may feel some pain from the electrical current flow. After
treatment, your skin may be red, swollen (inflamed), and tender. These
are temporary side effects. Electrolysis can cause scarring,
keloid scars, and changes in skin color of the treated
skin in some people.
Finding a licensed, reputable electrologist is important to
successfully and permanently removing unwanted hair. Each state in the United
States regulates the licensing of electrologists. Your doctor,
friends, or family may be able to recommend a licensed electrologist.
Complete the special treatment information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this treatment.
Current as of:
March 12, 2014
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Keith A. Denkler, MD - Plastic Surgery
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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North Kansas City Hospital.