Electrolysis is a technique of hair removal that involves administering electricity or heat to a hair repeatedly. The hair gradually becomes weaker and after several sessions, it stops growing permanently. Electrolysis clinics provide a service for people seeking cosmetic hair removal; clinics are generally focused on selling beauty services rather than medical interventions. Depending on the country, the clinics may have to be licensed by the government, and clinics may also require certification by a national body.
Hair grows from roots called follicles. Electrolysis is a method of destroying the follicle's ability to produce hair through the medium of electricity or heat, or both together. All types of electrolysis require a thin needle to be placed into the hair follicle, before the electrolysis machine then produces the energy that damages the follicle.
An electrologist, the person who performs these procedures at electrolysis clinics, needs to place the needle into each individual hair follicle in the area of the body being treated. This can take less than an hour for the hair on the face, or the bikini line. This procedure has to be repeated again and again until the follicle is permanently damaged, so a customer visiting electrolysis clinics is typically required to return for repeat sessions for up to two years. Not all hair follicles produce hair at any one time, so while one session of electrolysis damages the growing hair, the follicles with dormant hair are unaffected.
Reputable electrolysis clinics should be able to prove that their electrologists are qualified, and if necessary, that the clinic itself is licensed. Requirements can vary according to region, but reference to an electrolysis regulatory body in the area can provide details. The clinic should display good hygiene practices and provide all the detail necessary to the potential customer prior to the treatment. For example, as needles are involved, the clinic should use disposable needles and the electrologist should wear gloves to reduce the risk of infection.
As well as permanent hair removal, some electrolysis clinics can provide cosmetic services for skin blemishes. Examples of the type of blemish that electrolysis can help reduce include skin tags, age spots and warts. A doctor's advice should be sought before removing certain skin blemishes like moles, in case they are signs of serious disease. Electrolysis clinics may also offer other cosmetic services like laser hair removal or microdermabrasion as part of their range.