Electrologists use two distinct currents to remove hair follicles: direct current and high frequency. Direct current destroys the follicle by producing "lye" in the tissues. High frequency denatures the follicle with heat. Side effects?
Because these currents have been used since 1875 (direct current) and 1923 (high frequency), we can say with absolute certainty that electrolysis is safe. Except for nominal post-treatment redness and swelling, there are no side effects with this treatment — and that's for certain!
THE TARGET AREA (note: from my new book,Consumer's Guide):
The pilosebaceous unit (hair follicle) contains many different parts. Research shows that to cause permanent hair removal, three key structures must be destroyed: the bulge, the outer root sheath, and the section of the PSU containing the bulb and papilla. Some hair removal experts refer to this requirement as the "3 strikes and you're out" principle.
Outer root sheath:
The outer root sheath is part of the epidermis and makes up most of the follicle. Highly mitotic (cell dividing) basal cells line the outer root sheath and can regenerate a new follicle. These "germ cells" play a critical role during the hair's shedding and regrowing process. The target for any permanent hair removal method must include the entire outer root sheath from the sebaceous gland duct to the level of the papilla. This is a deep target, usually extending to the subcutaneous "fat" layer of the skin.
The bulge is part of the outer root sheath and contains stem cells that spring into action to grow a new follicle and hair. Not much was known about the bulge until Dr. Lavker's research in 1990, but researchers now believe this area is an essential hair growing mechanism. The bulge is included as an important target.
Papilla & Bulb: The papilla, or "dermal papilla," supplies life-giving oxygen and nutrients to cells in the bulb. The bulb resembles an onion and fits perfectly around the papilla. The bulb is composed of highly mitotic cells that "grow" the hair shaft and inner root sheath. These two "deep in the skin" structures are central to hair growth and must, therefore, be destroyed to achieve permanent hair removal.
Electrolysis succeeds in destroying all three elements of the target area, because the probe is inserted directly on target. In a sense, electrolysis is like a "smart bomb" that selects the exact target to be destroyed and effects little surrounding tissue. Electrolysis also produces an "upside down" heating pattern: more energy is placed at the deep base of the follicle, where it's needed, than at the skin's surface. If the needle is placed properly, and correct amounts of current are administered, results are always permanent.
Aestheticians working in a medical spa should be aware that both laser and electrolysis treatments wound the skin. We recommend, therefore, delaying other treatments that can inflame or further wound the skin.
For example, we usually recommend that microdermabrasion be performed at least one week before having an electrolysis treatment: allow the skin time to calm down. If microdermabrasion is done after electrolysis, a two-weeks waiting period is best.
Many aestheticians are now treating telangiectasia (broken capillaries) and performing light chemical peels. And, the same rule applies: always wait for the skin to recover from any treatment that causes inflammation. Examine the skin to be sure there is nominal inflammation before having electrolysis (or laser).
Treatment prior to electrolysis is basically cleaning the skin. Most electrologists simply clean the skin with alcohol, but such products as "Hibiclens" can also benefit. This writer uses Hibiclens before and after treatments, because the product is a surgical-grade antibacterial.
Many electrologists use "cataphoresis" after a treatment to calm the skin. Basically, this is your galvanic current (iontophoresis) that reduces redness and swelling. These results are temporary and of cosmetic consequence only, and do not alter treatment outcome.
No make-up for 24 hours is recommended — but we live in the real world; we know out clients want make-up. If the patient requires make-up, be sure to use a new unopened product (less bacteria), and apply it with clean cotton or freshly washed hands.
Laser And Electrolysis:
Today's beauty marketplace has many choices for the consumer. As a professional you have the opportunity to help the client decide which treatment best serves his/her needs. Personally knowing the practitioner is greatly recommended — a personal referral is always best.