Electrolysis works by using electricity to destroy the hair follicle. A small needle is inserted into the skin, and this needle conducts the electrical charge into the follicle. This process removes one hair at a time and must be repeated on each follicle.
Electrolysis is a permanent method of hair removal, but it requires multiple treatments to work. There are three types of electrolysis: galvanic electrolysis, thermolysis and electric tweezers. The first two methods must be performed by a licensed technician; electric tweezers may be used at home but do not kill the hair follicle. Because the follicle is still alive, there is a chance of the hair growing back.
The two professional methods of electrolysis vary in the electrical conductors they use. Galvanic electrolysis uses chemicals that react with the saline in skin to conduct electricity. Thermolysis uses water to conduct the electricity.
Electrolysis is a safe procedure for most people, but it does carry risks. People with pacemakers should avoid electrolysis due to the potential for direct current to damage the pacemaker. It is not recommended for people with skin conditions such as rosacea. Electrolysis can cause cosmetic darkening or lightening of the skin in treated areas; this side effect is most visible in people with darker skin.