Thursday, 26 November 2009

My first electrolysis session

I've previously had four sessions with the laser. Now the long business of picking off individual hairs with a needle has begun.

I had an hour of it, all on my upper lip. Roz uses the 'blend' method, where (so far as I understand it) a two-second electrical current sets off a chemical reaction at the base of the follicle and kills the root of the hair. Then you can draw it out. Those bristles from my lip were surprisingly long!

Did it hurt? Well, I deliberately hadn't taken anything to ease the possible discomfort. Nor smeared on cream. I wanted to find out what the pain was really like. And it was a bit like a sting. It varied a lot in intensity. On a scale of 1 to 10, some hairs were under 5; many were middling painful, say 6 or 7; and a few under my nose or on the edge of my lips were 8 or 9. Not many made my eyes water (which I'd say was a 10). Generally speaking, there was more pain in drawing the hair from the skin than in zapping it. Of course, whatever the pain, it had to be endured. I am an absolute wimp where pain is concerned, but I want to be rid of all this hair so badly I'll put up with anything. I didn't flinch once.

My skin didn't go blotchy red or anything. In fact there was no lingering pain or sensation of any kind. And there was no obvious swelling. I was able to wet-shave the upper lip straight away afterwards before leaving, and by the time I got home the upper lip looked and felt completely normal. And yet towards the end of the session Roz had treated several bristles that were likely to be 10s for pain. I must have a rather insensitive skin. Lucky me!

I now have three more weekly sessions booked up before Christmas. Bring it on.


  1. Lucy, I'll be following your blog closely to see how the electrolysis goes. I have 2 or 3 IPL sessions to go, but they will inevitably leave some grey hairs around my mouth that may need zapping to make me look beautiful.

    Good luck!

  2. That's amazing that you didn't need any numbing for your upper lip. I'm much wussier, especially for under the nose and close to the lip. Usually I don't flinch, but some days I do. I don't usually tear up until she does the inside of my nose.

    Sometimes, I hate the follicle extraction even more than the zap. That's because the root of the hair is a bulb, larger than the shaft, so it makes its presence felt when it comes out.

    I'm amazed that you didn't get any swelling or blotchiness. That's fantastic! I'm just glad I'm getting close to the end of this process. Still, oh yes, the results are worth all the pain.

  3. @Angie:
    I was surprised that it was less painful than the laser. Just as well: I have many, many, many sessions ahead. I'll post some before-and-after photos soon.

    Oh those nose hairs! Now that WOULD be torture. You must be so brave. Tell me there are other ways, like a full-on general anaesthetic in some hospital! I do however agree that the wonderful prize of 'no hair' is worth a huge amount of suffering.


  4. Lucy if you are feeling pain, especially greater pain when the hair is being extracted, then the current probably wasn't strong enough, or applied long enough, and the follicle hasn't been killed.

    A dead follicle will release it's hair with relative ease. All of the pain should occur when the current is being applied. Sometimes when starting out, the electrolysist will intentionally keep the current dialed down. The purpose is to use the least amount of current possible, to keep from scarring your skin. You may want her to dial it up a bit. I know when I had my neck done, it started out tolerable, but by the time an hour was up, I was clenching my fists and gritting my teeth. I didn't use any anesthetic either.

    Melissa XX

  5. It's been several years since I've had an electrolysis session, but I always needed something to dull the pain. I've used Emla, I've used an anesthetic cream from a plastic surgeon's office, and one time, I even took a spare vicodin pill that I had laying around (that didn't seem to make a difference though). Those upper lip hairs by my nose always made my eye water. Yes, only one eye... the right one. Weird, eh? And my skin was always swollen and red afterwards.

    Kudos to you for going medication-free. After 50-something hours, I still wouldn't have the guts to do that.

  6. Dr. Christine McGuinn, a post -op transsexual and noted SRS surgeon in Pennsylvania, stated in a documentary about her transition, that electrolysis was like having a tiny match put out on your face, each time a hair was treated. Having undergone some significant facial electrolysis, albeit not complete facial hair removal, I would have to say that was an apt description.

    Melissa XX

  7. I have a fair few beard hairs that will need electro. They are too blond to respond to the IPL.

    At the cost of an extra tenner for local anaesthetic, I'll do without
    the pAin, thanks very much..!!


  8. @Melissa:

    I think Roz WAS going easy at the start. But she also touched on what Veronique was saying about the 'bulb' at the base of the hair, and how lighter hairs have a much larger bulb and will need more of a tug to draw them out. The bulk of my facial hairs are light in colour and I suppose I'm in for some agony when she gets round to them!


  9. Lucy, welcome to the no-hair pain club for new women. I've had three laser sessions so far and I have been doing two hour a week electrolysis sessions for a couple months. And both of them are pretty intense experiences. I've used an anesthetic cream my doctor prescribed the last couple times for electro and it helps some, but there is till quite a bit of pain. The cream is a compounded drug, here in the States it is hard to find a pharmacist that is still licensed for that, and it is about three-times the strength of Emla. My doctor was willing to prescribe something like Vicodin, but she said it really isn't effective on that type of pain.

    My electrologist is using straight thermolysis on my face. They way she is working it involves two, tenth of a second blasts with the probe. When she started on me she explained that she uses blend or thermolysis depending on the individual. Due to my skin type and the fact the most of my hairs are gray/white she felt the thermolysis would be better for me. She's been doing this for 20+ years and is very experienced doing men's faces so I left it up to her.

  10. I am very interested in these comments and your own experience Lucy. My own latest blog entry explains why but what I am most interested to know is what sort of costs are involeved for e.g. the face? or in my latest interest my chest? I think it might be cost/time/pain prohibitive but I owuld like to know? anyone want to get in touch and let me know?

    thanks so much


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