Charles Michel (1833 – 1913) biography

Charles Eugene Michel (May 8, 1833–September 29, 1913) was an American surgeon and ophthalmologist who published the first clinical report of successful permanent hair removal using electrology in 1875.

Michel was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina. He graduated from Medical College of the State of South Carolina in Charleston in 1857. He then moved to Paris to continue his education. He returned to the United States in 1860 and enlisted in the Confederate Army. He served in numerous positions and at the end of the war was a surgeon in Auburn, Alabama. After the war, he moved to St. Louis and practiced medicine in the 11th Ward.

Michel was practicing in St. Louis when he began using a battery-powered needle epilator to treat trichiasis (ingrown eyelashes). This direct current powered method was called electrolysis because a chemical reaction in the hair follicle causes sodium hydroxide to form, which damages the follicle. It’s also sometimes called galvanic electrolysis.

He was appointed professor of ophthalmology at the Missouri Medical College from 1869 to 1907 and held memberships in the St. Louis Medical Society and Missouri State Medical Association. He lived the rest of his life in St. Louis, where he died at age 80.


His name was sometimes misspelled as Charles Mitchel, Charles Mitchell, and Charles Michael.

Michel CE. Trichiasis and distichiasis; with an improved method for their radical treatment. St. Louis Clinical Record, 1875 Oct; 2:145-148

Wagner RF Jr, Brysk H, Tyring SK. Revisiting the Michel/Green controversy of 1879: was Carron du Villards the first to use probe/needle electrolysis for permanent hair destruction? International Journal of Dermatology 1997 Dec;36(12):947-51.

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