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What You Need to Know Before Having Electrolysis

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Updated June 29, 2012

Electrolysis is the only type of hair removal approved by the FDA as a permanent way of removing hair. For the thousands of women with PCOS, due to the thick hair that often grows on their face, chest and back, electrolysis is a great option to permanently get rid of their hair. Here is what you need to know before having electrolysis.

How Does it Work?

During electrolysis, a small needle is inserted into the hair follicle, and a small current of electricity is applied to kill it. Because hair growth occurs in three different phases and the hair isn’t all at the same phase at the same time, multiple treatments are needed to make sure that you get each hair at the appropriate time in its growth cycle.

Choosing your Aesthetician

Make sure to seek the services of an electrologist who has completed national testing to become a certified. It is also helpful to check with the American Electrology Association to see if the practitioner has remained certified in his/her practice.

Is it Expensive?

Most treatments are quite expensive, ranging anywhere from several hundred to over a thousand dollars total, though the treatments are often spread out over dozens of visits.

How Should I Prepare?

Check with your electrologist; she will have her own procedures and requests for how you prepare for your treatment. Generally speaking, you’ll want to avoid sun exposure for 48 to 72 hours before your appointment. You should also avoid stimulants like caffeine or alcohol on the day of your visit. If your electrologist gives you the okay, certain topical creams can be applied to numb the skin and reduce your discomfort. Make sure to ask before you apply anything.

You also shouldn’t tweeze or pluck the regrowth before your next appointment. Instead, try shaving or depilatories to manage hair regrowth.

Does it Hurt?

It is important to remember that everyone’s pain tolerance is different and what one woman considers painful, another might register as only mildly annoying. That being said, many women do report some discomfort from electrolysis due to the insertion of the needle (a slight stinging feeling) over and over again into each hair follicle being treated.

What are the Aftercare Instructions?

Again, your electrologist will be the best person to ask; you can even call before your appointment so that you know what to expect. Generally, she’ll recommend that you stay out of the sun for a period of a few days and always apply sunscreen when you do go outside. In addition, you may be asked to avoid washing or applying make-up (as in the case of facial electrolysis) to prevent irritating the site or introducing bacteria that can cause an infection. She may give you an antibiotic or hydrocortisone cream to apply to minimize the risk of infection or swelling.
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