What Are the Different Types of Electrolysis Treatments?

Jami Yontz

Galvanic, thermolysis, and a blend method are the three types of electrolysis treatments available. Also available are at-home electrolysis treatments, but these have not been proven to be effective, and can cause harm. Unwanted hair is a problem for both men and women, and people spend large amounts of money each year waxing, tweezing, shaving, using gels and creams, and utilizing other methods to rid or decrease the amount of hair on the body. Laser hair removal treatments are another popular option, but electrolysis is the only hair removal system that has been labeled as a permanent option for removing hair. An electrologist should be consulted for the best method of hair removal for someone’s skin type and thickness of hair.

Galvanic electrolysis uses an electric current to remove hair.
Galvanic electrolysis uses an electric current to remove hair.

Hair follicles are small organs that contain the hair, papilla, and sebaceous glands, which are responsible for providing the structure and blood supply to the hair for growth. These follicles can grow either thick or fine hair, and each hair follicle is on a different growth pattern. Due to this growth cycle, electrolysis treatments may need to be repeated to destroy each follicle during its growth phase.

Electrolysis treatments destroy hair follicles, causing the hair to fall out.
Electrolysis treatments destroy hair follicles, causing the hair to fall out.

Electrolysis treatments have been used in some form since the late 1800s, and the basis of the original method is still used in modern hair removal techniques, including galvanic treatments. Galvanic electrolysis, also known as direct current (DC) electrolysis, is performed by inserting a needle into the hair follicle. A direct current is sent through the needle, causing lye, a chemical, to form and destroy the hair follicle.

Thermolysis, also known as high frequency electrolysis treatments, use an alternating current (AC) to heat up the water or area around the hair follicle. This high-level heat destroys the papillary tissue surrounding the follicle, effectively destroying the hair’s blood supply. Thermolysis is traditionally a faster method of hair removal, but some believe it is less effective.

The blend method combines thermolysis and galvanic electrolysis treatment methods to destroy the hair permanently. Alternating current and direct current electricity is sent through the needle to the hair follicle. This combined method is popular with electrologists.

Electrolysis is usually not painful, but some people are more sensitive to the consistent sensation created by the electric currents than others. There can be swelling after the procedure, and some people experience small scabs from the insertion of the needle. The amount of time required to complete the procedure will be determined by the size of the surface area being treated. Thickness and amount of hair being treated can also determine the duration of the hair removal session or the need for follow-up electrolysis.

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