Choosing an electrologist
Choosing an electrologist will be the most important factor in how long completion takes, how much it costs, how comfortable treatment is, and how your skin fares. Choose carefully!
Electrologists are salespeople, too.
They are trying to sell you treatments that can cost you a lot of money. They have to make payments on equipment and office space. That's a lot of sales they have to make.
Can you afford it if you have no long-term results?
Clinical studies suggest that 7% to 10% of clients don't respond to treatment. If you cannot afford to risk your time or money if results aren't satisfactory, you should stick with a cheaper method.
Get personal recommendations
This is the most reliable way to find someone. Try asking:
- your friends and relatives. They might go or might know someone who goes.
- your doctor. Ask if she or he knows any clients who are done and are happy.
Find advertised practices
It's much better to get a personal recommendation from a satisfied consumer, but
- Yellow pages: Look under "electrolysis" and under "hair removal"
- Internet: type in "electrolysis" and the the name of towns near you
- Trade associations (see the list under Qualifications below.
If you learn about an electrologist from a print advertisement, keep a copy of the ad (put the date and where it ran on the ad). If you hear something on TV or radio, note the date, station and program, along with any claims. If you try to get a refund later, you'll need this information.
Calling for information
Get some information over the phone
Most places will not give much information over the phone, especially prices. This is not because they're evasive, but because they want to see you before discussing treatment options. Take notes. Get the name of anyone you talk to and note the date. You should get the following information over the phone:
- Make sure they do needle electrolysis. Some places claiming to use electrolysis really use electric tweezers or photoepilators.
- Which of the three types of electrolysis are available (galvanic, thermolysis, or blend) and how long they've used each at their practice
- Brand and model of equipment, and how long they've had it
- Number of clients they've treated and number of years in business
- Their electrolysis training and qualifications (see below)
Over one-third of the US states have no certification requirement for electrologists, and states that do regulate electrolysis each have widely varying standards for certification. Electrologists should have a current, dated certificate on display where required.
They should have one if the state where they practice regulates electrolysis (see State regulations)
They should have a certification from an accredited electrology school. Instructors are even better.
Many belong to a professional trade group. The largest trade groups include:
- AEA (American Electrology Association)
- IGPE (International Guild of Professional Electrologists)
- SCME (Society of Clinical and Medical Electrologists)
- ESNE (Electrolysis Society of the Northeast)
- IBE (International Board of Electrologists)
- COPE (Canadian Organization of Professional Electrologists)
Common national certifications include:
- CPE (Certified Professional Electrologist) a certification governed by the AEA
- CME (Certified Clinical Electrologist), a certification governed by SCME
- RE (Registered Electrologist)
Set up a consultation
Ask if a consultation and test patch are free. They usually are.
During the consultation
Check out the office
Is it clean and organized? Most places have a waiting room and private booths or offices in the back. Are the workers clean, too? Is everyone there professional and courteous? If not, you should look elsewhere.
Make sure they are sanitary
Unsterile conditions can lead to spread of infection and warts, and possibly blood-borne disease (although there are no documented cases of blood-borne disease transmission via electrolysis).
- Electrologist should wash hands before and after each treatment.
- The Center for Disease Control recommends electrologists use disposable gloves during treatments. Many also use masks, which also help protect you against infection and the possibility of disease.
- Treatment tables should be sanitized or appropriately redraped with paper or linen before each treatment.
- Do they sterilize equipment in an autoclave?
- Do they use disposable probes? If not, why?
How does the treatment feel?
You should never have the feeling that a hair is being plucked or tweezed during treatment.
Do you like the practitioner?
You should get along. It can help to think that you are a team working together toward a common goal, since it's very important to have a good rapport and an atmosphere of trust. If you don't feel you can express your concerns about treatment to him or her, you might try someone else.
Talk to clients (if possible)
Ask to talk with clients who used the same practitioner who are done and happy. Clients should be at least 6 and preferably 12 months past their final treatment. Note: This option is not always available, as many clients of hair removal want to keep their visits private. That's why it's best to get a personal recommendation from a friend or loved one-- most practitioners do not have clients on hand who are willing to speak about their satisfaction, and no reputable practitioner will divulge any information about clients without first getting client permission.
Meet the person who will give you treatment
If more than one electrologist works there, will you always be seeing one person? If not, find out the credentials of others who may be working on you. Get all the answers you require from the person who will be performing the procedure if possible. At the very least, meet them in person.
Check on pain relief
If you are concerned about pain or especially sensitive to it, ask them if they have pain relief available if you need it. If they try to tell you it's painless, be very suspicious.
Usually, electrolysis costs are calculated by the minute. Many places offer 15-minute increments, and the longer the session, the less it is per minute. For instance, 15 minutes might cost $25, a half hour might cost $40, and an hour might be $60. Some places allow you to pay up front for a block of treatment time that you can use as needed. These blocks can offer additional savings.
Discuss treatment schedule
You should find out:
- How often you'll need to come in
- About how long each treatment will take (subsequent treatments may require less time)
- Roughly how many treatments in total you might need before you won't need to come in any more. They will probably give you a range, since it's hard to predict.
Ask about office policies
You should also find out:
- Office days and hours (especially weekend and evening options if your schedule requires)
- Policy for missed appointments
Ask about post-treatment
Find out what to expect after you've been treated:
- Ask if you will need to do anything special to your skin after treatment.
- Get a written list of possible side effects and the doctor's assessment of your skin type.
- Ask how long it will be before you can clear any new growth or regrowth.
Get it in writing
In addition to getting answers on your Electrolysis consultation form, get a written guarantee of any results they promise. If they are willing to promise permanent results in writing, you may be able to get a refund if you aren't satisfied.
Take your time
Don't let them rush you. If you don't get all your questions answered to your complete satisfaction, they don't deserve your trust or your money.
Get more than one consultation
Every electrologist is different. If you have more than one option near you, you should check all of them out before committing.
Signing up for blocks
Do not sign up for a block until you've had a few treatments. It makes it difficult for you to stop in the middle if you become dissatisfied with them, and if you aren't satisfied, it's harder to get money back once they have it. Wait to see how your skin responds, and if possible, wait until you can see how well it's working.
Read what you sign
Carefully read any waivers or disclaimers you are required to sign, and keep a copy for yourself. Some offices will require clients to sign an "informed consent" form, meaning you know the risks and don't care. Clients should read forms very carefully to ensure that they are not waiving their legal rights in the event of any complications, either short-term or long-term. If in doubt, get legal advice.
During full treatment
Keep written records
If at all possible, pay with check or credit card, not cash. Have them sign and date a receipt with each payment.
Good electrologists keep a log of your treatment dates and times, and many will give you a card with the same information. If they don't provide this, you should keep your own record and make sure it matches their records after each session. This is especially important if you have bought a block of time.
Give the practitioner feedback
Don't be afraid to tell her or him to stop if it hurts. You might be getting overtreated, which can lead to injury.