Hair removal is one of the most common cosmetic procedures. People are increasingly opting for more permanent procedures, tired of waxing, shaving, and tweezing their hair. Amongst these is electrolysis. Despite being popular for over a century, electrolysis is often confused with laser hair removal. They’re completely different, however.

Such confusion creates a wariness of the procedure. Does it hurt? How many electrolysis sessions does it take? How long does it last?

We’re here to answer all these questions and more. In this article, we’ll discuss how many electrolysis sessions you may need, as well as what to expect after each session.

What is electrolysis?

Electrolysis is a hair removal procedure that involves removing individual hairs from the face or body. To do so, a needle is inserted into your skin, and an electrical current is passed through it. This heats up the surrounding tissue, damaging the hair follicle and causing it to break. 

The result is a noticeable decrease in hair growth after a session. In fact, the hair will fall out in the subsequent hours and days. 

However, most practitioners will remove the hair with tweezers after destroying the hair follicle. Due to the nature of the treatment, not all body areas are suitable for the process. In general, the eyebrows, face, abdomen, thighs, breasts, and legs can undergo electrolysis.

Electrolysis: How many sessions will you need?

The answer is it depends. Hair follicles change depending on the body area in question. They can be further down in the skin or more resilient. You’ll also need to factor in the thickness and density of the hair. The more hair follicles, the more sessions you’ll need to remove them.

In addition, most hair follicles will need to be targeted at least twice to have a permanent effect. Expect to go through around eight to twelve sessions for a permanent result. That may seem like a lot. However, it’s important to remember – the results last forever. 

Indeed, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) consider electrolysis the only permanent hair removal method. All other methods will still result in hair regrowth because they do not remove the hair follicle itself. 

It takes, on average, about 12 months to complete all the sessions. Though, in some cases, electrolysis treatment can continue for up to 24 months. Again, it’s all dependent on the hair type and body area.

The upside is each treatment lasts between 15 to 60 minutes. So, you can even book a session for your lunch hour!

Types of electrolysis hair removal

Contrary to popular belief, there are multiple types of electrolysis hair removal. Some date back over hundred years, and others are more recent innovations.

The Galvanic method is named after Luigi Galvanic. However, the technique was first developed in 1875 by ophthalmologist Charles Michel. He used it to remove ingrown eyelashes. The procedure delivers 0 to 3 milliamperes of power to the body. A follicular probe directs the charge to the follicle, causing a form of chemical electrolysis.

Thermolysis, as the name suggests, uses heat. It’s also known as radiofrequency, shortwave, or diathermy. Developed by Henry Bordier in the 1920s, it works by heating the hair matrix cells to 40 to 50 °C (118 to 122 °F), causing electrocoagulation. 

The Bland method uses a combination of the above methods. It was pioneered in 1948 by Arthur Kinkel, involving a direct current and radiofrequency to boost performance.

Does hair grow back?

Despite being considered the only true form of permanent hair removal, hair can still grow back. Nevertheless, future hair growth will be finer and sparser – it may even stop after multiple sessions. 

No hair removal technique can 100 percent guarantee the removal of all hairs forever. There are just too many follicles in your skin. But, electrolysis is one of the most effective of all the techniques.

How does electrolysis compare to other techniques?

Electrolysis is most frequently compared to laser hair removal. Both are amongst the most permanent treatments available. Laser hair removal is perhaps slightly less permanent than electrolysis, as it thoroughly damages the hair follicle. 

On the other hand, laser therapy targets melanin (color) in the hair. So, as treatment progresses, the hair will lighten. That’s particularly beneficial if you’ve got darker hair and lighter skin. Pricewise, electrolysis also tends to be the cheaper option. 

Chemical treatments, like liquids or creams, can also be used to remove hair. However, these products are often irritating to the skin and do little to remove the hair permanently. Nor do cosmetic techniques like waxing yield the long-lasting benefits of electrolysis. It’s also a lot more painful.

Side effects of electrolysis

Electrolysis is a safe procedure with minimal to no side effects for most people. Nonetheless, all procedures come with some risks. Here are the possible side effects of electrolysis:

  • Skin damage: Excess electrolysis can cause some skin damage. You should only receive electrolysis from a trained electrologist.
  • Blisters: blistering is common after electrolysis. Typically, these blisters fade away within three days. If blisters continue to persist for longer, you seek medical attention. Never scratch or scrub blisters or the treatment area until fully healed.
  • Skin discoloration: Dark or brown spots can occur with electrolysis. Skin lightening cream can be used to reduce their visibility. 
  • Burning sensation: This should not occur. However, if you have gone to an amateur, you may experience a burning sensation. Contact a professional dermatologist if you experience a burning sensation after treatment.
  • Face swelling: this is rare. However, if a large area is treated in one go, the irritation can lead to swelling. Apply ice to the area and leave to heal.


How many electrolysis sessions can you expect? Between eight to twelve sessions is typical. Sessions can take anywhere from 8 to 24 months to complete the full treatment. To get more information on electrolysis sessions, contact Alite Laser today.