Electrolysis (electrology) for hair removal

Basic facts
  • Permanent hair removal for most consumers if performed correctly (which requires considerable training and skill).
  • A hair-thin metal probe is slid into a hair follicle.
  • Proper insertion does not puncture the skin.
  • Electricity is delivered to the follicle through the probe, which causes localized damage to the areas that generate hairs.
  • By far the best and longest track record of results.
  • Over 125 years of clinically proven safety and effectiveness. [1]
  • Can be expensive.
  • Can be painful.
  • Can be tedious.
  • Can be difficult for large amounts of hair.
  • If done improperly, it can result in partial to full regrowth, lasting skin damage, and/or spread of infection.
  • Regulation varies by state, so inadequate controls exist to ensure competent practitioners.
  • Regrowth rates have not been accurately established and cannot be predicted due to numerous variables.
  • Some consumers do not respond to treatment.
Quack claims

“Painless” or “virtually painless”

  • While many clients tolerate electrolysis without requiring pain relief, it’s overpromise to state that treatment will be painless for all consumers.

“100% permanent”

  • The vast majority of patients experience permanent removal of treated hair over the course of treatment, but published studies have observed that between 7% and 10% of consumers did not have satisfactory results.

“Guaranteed 0% regrowth”

  • There is no published clinical data to substantiate this sort of overpromise.

“Easy to use” personal units

Items in this section:

> Electrology background, history, and clinical data

>How to choose an electrologist

>Pain management tips

>Do-it-yourself electrolysis

>Clinical data on electrolysis

>FDA clearances of electrolysis

>Electrolysis machine manufacturers

> Needle manufacturers


  1. Please see my selected list of published electrolysis medical literature.
  2. Caldwell IW. The electronic pencil. British Medical Journal, 1972, 03 Jun(813):591-592.
  3. Please this discussion of home-use personal electrolysis units: cons and pros.