Summer is coming, and you are about to reveal more skin than you have all year. If you are tired of shaving or waxing, you may be thinking about a more permanent answer like electrolysis. But is it a one-and-done solution? Does electrolysis require multiple treatments? We have done the research to tell you everything you need to know about this process, including how many treatments you can expect.
Electrolysis requires multiple treatments. The exact number can range anywhere from eight sessions to 30 sessions. The exact number depends on various factors specific to you, your hair, and the area that you want to be treated.
Keep reading to learn more about how electrolysis works and why multiple sessions are required. We’ll also tell you about what exactly influences the number of sessions you might need, and we’ll discuss proper care between your treatments.
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Electrolysis Treatment - Number of Sessions May Vary
Electrolysis requires multiple treatments to be effective. The exact number of sessions will vary from person to person. The number of sessions you might need can easily range from eight to 30 treatments. The most significant reason for this range is your hair growth cycle.
Hair grows in three stages. The follicle is only receptive to electrolysis during the first and possibly the second stage of growth when there is still a connection to the blood supply. If treated during the third stage, that follicle will not be affected.
Individual hairs may be at different stages of growth, even if they are in the same area. It is impossible to tell what stage each hair is in. Therefore, multiple sessions are needed to treat each hair in the targeted area effectively.
What Determines The Number Of Electrolysis Treatments I Will Need?
Other factors that influence your number of treatments include:
- Your skin: type, sensitivity, and hydration
- Your hair: thickness and density
- Hormones: hair growth cycles can be sensitive to hormonal changes
- Area of the body: timing of hair growth cycles will vary in different areas
- Previous hair removal techniques: waxing, epilation, or plucking can potentially deform the hair follicle and will impact the timing of regrowth
- Pain threshold: if you find the process too painful, you may need shorter sessions
- Hair follicle shape: curved follicles can make the process more difficult
The length of each session can range from 15 minutes to an hour and is also impacted by the above factors. You can learn more about exactly how many sessions you will need and how long they might take by talking with your electrologist after they have examined the treatment area.
How Does Electrolysis Work?
During electrolysis, a very fine probe is inserted into the opening of the hair follicle along the hair shaft. The probe then administers an electric current or shortwave radiofrequency directly to the follicle. This causes heat and chemical reactions in the hair follicle. The goal is to damage the hair follicle to the point that the existing hair falls out and regrowth does not occur.
Can hair grow back after electrolysis?
The FDA recognizes electrolysis as the only permanent hair removal solution because it effectively destroys the hair follicles. Once all sessions are complete, the hair in the treated area should not grow back.
Initially, between sessions, you will experience hair regrowth. This regrowth will be noticeably finer. Remember that electrolysis only works on hair that is actively growing. If you have recently plucked or waxed, or if you have dormant follicles that surface later, these would need to be treated.
Does electrolysis leave holes?
Electrolysis does not leave holes in the skin. Scarring and pitting are possible but rare and most often are due to improper technique by the electrologist, such as using a setting that's too high or over-treating the same area.
To avoid long-lasting negative effects such as scarring or pitting, make sure you research your electrologist thoroughly. You want to choose an electrologist who is professionally trained and highly experienced. You can find out more about the licensing regulations and requirements of electrologists in your state at the American Electrology Association.
Does electrolysis burn your skin?
When administered properly, electrolysis will not burn your skin. However, your skin will be more sensitive to the elements and can burn easier in sunlight immediately following treatment. You may also experience some tenderness and redness, which could look like a slight sunburn for a few hours after a session. But this is very temporary.
Between Treatment Dos
- Use aloe vera gel to moisturize and soothe any irritation.
- Regularly moisturize.
- Protect with sunblock.
- Use cold compresses to soothe renews and tenderness.
- Follow the specific aftercare guidelines provided by your electrologist.
Between Treatment Don’ts
- Avoid using makeup or scented creams on the area for 48 hours after treatment.
- Avoid laying out in the sun for at least 24 hours after treatment.
- Don’t go swimming for at least 24 hours.
- Avoid excessive sweating for about 24 hours.
- Don’t wax, pluck, or otherwise remove hair by the root at any point between sessions.
Other Potential Side Effects Of Electrolysis
Whether you have side effects from electrolysis depends on the sensitivity of your skin, duration of the session, and density of the hair in the area being treated. After a session of electrolysis, most people may experience one or more of the following side effects:
- Some temporary tenderness of the treated area
- Redness of the skin for a few hours after the session
- Red dots on the treated area, which could last a few days
- Localized swelling, which may look like insect bites
- Skin dryness
- Acne breakouts
While side effects are typically a result of your body’s natural response to the treatment, there are some things you can do. Make sure you choose a good electrologist with proper licensing and a solid reputation. You can help avoid side effects from improper treatment by choosing wisely. Also, follow all aftercare procedures. Giving your skin the extra TLC it needs between sessions can go a long way.
How long should you wait between electrolysis treatments?
It is most common to wait one to two weeks between electrolysis treatments. The exact time you should wait between sessions may depend on individual factors related to your skin and hair in the treatment area. Some areas may have much quicker or much slower regrowth cycles, which would impact your wait time.
Does electrolysis work on fine hair?
Electrolysis absolutely works on fine hair. Electrolysis is deemed appropriate and effective for any hair type and any area of the body. As long as the hair is actively growing, electrolysis can be used.
Can I shave between electrolysis treatments?
You can shave between electrolysis treatments. Just stay away from waxing, plucking, or any other method that pulls the hair out by the root. Also, try not to shave for at least three to five days before your next electrolysis session. For electrolysis to be effective, you want the length of your hair to be at least long enough that you could grab it with tweezers as if you were going to pluck it.
Electrolysis can be a great solution if you are looking for permanent hair removal. However, it is not a quick and easy fix. You will need to research your electrologist and carefully follow aftercare guidelines. You will also be committing to multiple sessions that could span months or even a year. Ultimately, electrolysis can be well worth your while when you realize you’ll never have to pluck, wax, or shave again!
If you are considering electrolysis, it's best to keep your skin hydrated. Before you go, check out these related posts for dealing with dry skin and staying moisturized: