Electrolysis, Laser Hair Removal and Needle Electrology (Needle Electrolysis) FAQ
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There are two methods of achieving permanent hair reduction. Laser and Needle/probe Electrolysis.
The word laser is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.
Laser hair removal works through selective photothermolysis – an energy source in the form of highly concentrated light that can be precisely directed into the hair follicle.
Very specific wavelengths of light are used to penetrate the skin without causing skin damage.
Melanin (color) in the hair follicle absorbs the laser light. This causes very brief, high temperatures in the hair follicle but not the surrounding skin. The high temperature in the hair follicle damages the structures responsible for hair growth (the papilla).
Treatment consists of placing a small hand piece near the skin and administering laser pulses over the area to be treated. The laser light is pulsed for a fraction of a second – just long enough to disable the hair follicle.
Unlike needle electrolysis, practically any area of the body can be treated. For men, it is also possible to treat the face to retard the growth of a beard.
Is it dangerous?
Lasers can be dangerous in the wrong hands! And can seriously damage your skin if set incorrectly – leading to blistering. This is why it is recommended that you insist on a test patch first – this will cost more but is worth it!
Secondly remember your eyes are at risk and protective eyewear is essential, special total ‘black-out’ eye goggles similar to those worn in sun beds are essential – sun bed glasses are not suitable! This protection will be supplied by your technician.
The American Medical Association (AMA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognize laser electrolysis as the only permanent method of hair reduction. When done by a professional.
Does a laser hurt?
It depends on the competence of the technician, but the speed it moves across the face coupled with a cooling gel applied gives you the sensation of being flicked on the face with a tiny elastic band! Medical practitioners that use this technique for example Mr David Gault at Mt Vernon Hospital London can arrange some skin calming treatments.
How many sessions will I need?
The number of laser – electrolysis treatments you’ll need depends on the area being treated and the growth patterns of your hair. Laser – electrolysis works best by disabling hairs that are principally in their active growth phase during the time of treatment. Because other hairs will enter the growth cycle at different times, additional treatments are necessary. Hair develops from a series of chemical interactions between different elements of the skin. Not all hairs are actively growing at the same time. The duration of each phase in the growth cycle is dependent upon several factors. Age, ethnicity, medication, hormone levels, other methods of temporary hair removal and location of hair may influence the length and coarseness of hair. How much hair you have depends on how many hairs are actively growing. It also depends upon the pigment of your hair darker hair absorbs the pulse better than fairer beard.
Reactions vary. Effects from either a laser or electrolysis treatment depend on the area treated, age, ethnicity, medication and hormone levels. Typically, as a result of treatment, your skin will temporarily become slightly reddened. This usually subsides within twenty minutes.
Laser fees are based on the amount of hair and the body area to be treated. An individual consultation is necessary to determine the exact cost. Long term results usually make laser a very cost effective treatment. However, a medical practitioner would charge anything up to £300 per session! However, it maybe possible to get this funded on the NHS for UK citizens – speak to your Gender Identity Clinic and ask for a referral.
Electrolysis fees are a fixed cost based on the amount of time scheduled for an appointment. Cost alone should not be your deciding factor in selecting a hair removal specialist. Look for a certified laser – electrolysis technician on the basis of their experience, training, professional affiliation and their personal style.
Because hair grows in cycles (anagen or growing phase, catagen or shedding phase, and telogen or resting phase) and can best be eliminated during its growth cycle (anagen), successful electrology requires a series of scheduled treatments. These treatment sessions typically last from fifteen minutes to an hour.
Electrologists treat unwanted hair by applying a small amount of electrical current to the base of the hair follicle by means of a very fine sterile probe.
The energy from this hair-fine probe destroys the growth center of the hair follicle, called the papilla. The probe never punctures the skin. Rather, it is inserted directly into the hair follicle.
There are three medically recognized techniques used by electrologists today. The original method invented in the 1800s is called electrolysis. It uses direct current (DC, also called galvanic current) to produce a chemical reaction that destroys the papilla. The second technique, called short wave or thermolysis, uses alternating current (AC) to generate heat which cauterizes the follicle. The third technique, known as blend, combines direct current and alternating current (DC + AC) to eliminate hair growth cells.
The device that regulates the type and amount of energy delivered to the probe is called an epilator. After each follicle is treated, the hair is removed with sterile tweezers (see fig 4).