Electrolysis clinical data

Electrolysis has been clinically proven permanent since 1875. I have included selected articles from the past 125 years, as well as selected books by practitioners. Almost all articles from the past 20 years are represented.

Human clinical studies

Michel (1875): First published report of permanent hair removal with galvanic electrolysis. By the widely-accepted inventor of the modality (but see Wagner (1997)).

Bordier (1924): First published report of permanent hair removal with thermolysis, by the inventor of the modality.

Niedelman (1945): Fifteen-year clinical observation of galvanic and thermolysis leads to his preference for thermolysis.

Ellis (1947): Clinical and histological data showing galvanic is more effective than thermolysis.

Peereboom-Wynia (1975): Clinical report of 11 women with hirsutism, with positive outcomes.

McKinstry (1979): Makes a case for destroying the upper follicle to improve electrolysis efficacy.

Verdich (1979): Of 56 women treated, 90% were satisfied, but most found it expensive and slow.

Avnstorp (1982): Describes high regrowth in 11 women with hirsutism after thermolysis. Shows why hirsute women should also have hormone levels checked.

Kligman (1984): A good overview of histologic changes following thermolysis, but comparison to galvanic is considered flawed. The co-author sells a thermolysis machine, which may explain the biased comparison.

Peereboom-Wynia (1985): In a small sample of 9 hirsute women, they found blend faster and slightly more effective (differences not statistically significant).

Richards (1986): Based on 35,000 hours of observation, this clinic found 93% of electrolysis patients improved. See also the 10-year follow-up Richards (1995).

Kobayashi (1987): In 73 patients given 3 to 8 treatments at 2- to 12-week intervals, almost no regrowth was observed in observations 6 to 36 months after final treatment with Kobayashi-Yamada thermolysis.

Richards (1995): A follow-up to the Richards (1986) study cited above. Now with 140,000 hours of observations, the original observations were further confirmed.

Urushibata (1995): Compared blend with plucking in 14 women, with armpits as test site. Plucking did not decrease hairs; blend took an average of 10 sessions over 27 weeks to achieve permanent hair removal.

Gorgu (2000): 12 patients had one armpit treated with electrolysis and the other with alexandrite laser. 14 weeks after final treatment, they reported electrolysis had 35% clearance and laser had 74% clearance.


Lerner (1942): Review of 18 years of thermolysis medical papers. States approximately 200 hairs an hour can be treated with thermolysis.

Goldberg (1965): Recommends thermolysis for hirsutism. See the Goldberg 1985 letter.

Hinkel (1968): Book with first published report of permanent hair removal with blend, by the developer of the modality. Makes case for use of his blend method.

Chernosky (1971): A positive report on thermolysis. See also Chernosky (1987), a letter recommending electrolysis for hirsutism.

Caldwell (1972): A negative report on home electrolysis kits (called electronic pencils in Britain).

Caldwell (1972): A short review on referring patients for electrolysis.

Johnson (1975): Observed epilated follicles regrow for less time at a slower rate.

Mahoney (1976): A brief letter on electrolysis referrals.

Rydahl (1981); This Danish article discusses electrolysis in hospital for hirsutism.

Ridley (1985): A brief comment on the use of electrolysis.

Kobayashi (1985): An overview of the Kobayashi-Yamada thermolysis system with special insulated needles.

Wagner (1985): An excellent overview of electrolysis.

Hobbs (1987): A very good overview of electrolysis.

Kobayashi (1987): Tests showing the effectiveness of insulation used on needles in the Kobayashi-Yamada thermolysis method.

Fogh (1989): Recommends electrolysis to treat hirsutism, noted significant decrease in hair at six months. See also a Danish version of the same article at Fogh 1989

Richards (1991): By far the most thorough and useful book on electrolysis. Essential reading for practitioners and consumers seeking in-depth information.

Wagner (1993): This paper outlines their successful university-sponsored electrolysis clinic as a guide for other institutions.

Bono (1994): A very good practice manual that makes a compelling argument for the blend method.

Lasker (1996): Suggests a method for establishing a baseline for evaluation of treatment efficacy.

Wagner (1997): This article looks at the claims that du Villards used electrolysis before Michel.

Wagner (1998): Looks at dermatologist attitudes toward independent non-physician electrologists and laser practitioners.

Richards (1999): A point-counterpoint discussing electrolysis, accompanied by a laser article Bargman (1999)

Gior (2000): A very good book for practitioners summarizing electrolysis basics.

Side effects

Vogt (1973): Reports on the formation of keloid scars following electrolysis.

Blackwell (1977): Instructions on releasing ingrown hairs and subsequent electrolysis treatment.

Petrozzi (1980): Describes a patient in whom flat warts were spread by electrolysis. Shows why abnormal skin should not be treated.

Unknown (1989): This letter discusses electrolysis and blood-borne infections.

Cookson (1981): Claims a woman contracted a heart infection from electrolysis.

Ditmars (1998): Looks at a case of sporotrichosis (a fungal infection) following electrolysis on a patient’s neck.

Dumesic (1997): This well-designed study estimates 1.7% of women under 50 seeking electrolysis have undiagnosed glucose intolerance.