Healing after skin damage

I’ve noticed a few recent posts have brought up the subject of skin damage. But no one seems to be saying how it clears up. Obviously, the best thing is to avoid it in the first place. But if you’re one of the unlucky ones, here’s a report on my own personal experience.

I’d been having diathermy (thermolysis) from several girls at my local salon, and I’d become a little concerned that each one did it slightly differently, and I was getting some swelling and scabs from some of the girls.

I posted the following on HairTell:

July 02
“… I’m left with quite a bit of skin damage - almost like the collagen underneath my skin has lost its elasticity - and quite a few ‘dents’ that look like acne damage …”

Aug 02
“… I’ve been increasingly worried about the lack of skin structure in the treated area. My skin seems to have lost some of its elasticity and ‘plumpness’. It’s not exactly ‘wrinkly’, but there’s a distinct undulation there …”

Does that sort of damage sound familiar?
I wrote some more thoughts on the subject back in
September 02:

“… If you’re using diathermy (thermolysis), then there’s a chance that you might get some skin damage. There are many immediate signs to watch out for that might indicate that your skin is being damaged.

“… thermolysis … uses heat to affect a localised ‘burn’ and to destroy the hair root.

”Heat travels very well through skin tissues, and hangs around for a long time. If you treat one hair, then you can’t help but heat the surrounding tissue too - in a circle say a quarter inch across. If you then go and treat a hair within that surrounding tissue, you’re double heating the same area. With the next hair you tripple heat it, and so on.”

A competent practitioner will know how to avoid this situation from even occurring in the first place.

However, if you suspect that your skin’s been damaged by diathermy (thermolysis), then I can say that it does lessen over time. For many months, I thought I was getting used to the appearance of my skin. More recently, I’ve come to realise that my skin has actually healed up almost completely.
Here’s what I did, and it worked fine for me:

First off is damage limitation.
If you have an adverse reaction (swelling, weeping, etc.) treat the area as you would with any other burn. Use some ice from the freezer and cool the area. You mustn’t apply ice straight to the skin – wrap it in a cloth first, and be mindful of cleanliness. You will also have to keep the ice applied for a long time (upwards of 30 minutes).

Second thing is not to make a bad situation worse.
It’s frustrating, but steer clear of having electrolysis on the same area too soon. Even if the surface of your skin has healed, deep down in the follicle might be a different story.

If you can, go back to your electrolygist as soon as possible to show them the area. A competent practitioner will be able to assess the reaction and suggest changes in your treatment plan to compensate.

Thirdly, if you’re getting bad reactions from your practitioner, be prepared to switch and find a new one. This was my biggest mistake – I guess I’d become too comfortable where I was, and felt I was somehow letting the guys down if I went somewhere else.

I have a sneaky feeling that some of the Pros might disagree with me on this point, so please take this as my own, uneducated opinion: personally I suspect that if you have really strong, thick, dense hairs, the power levels needed to treat the hair with thermolysis might prove to be too high for your skin. You might find that you’re better off with blend instead.

Finally – and this applies whether you’re getting bad reactions or not – look after your skin!

  • Drink lots of water all the time (I mean every day – not just before your session!) Water hydrates your skin and will help it to stay healthy through your treatments.

  • Moisturise twice a day – use a good anti-aging moisturiser (even if you’re still in your teens!)

  • Take lots of Vitamin C supplements. I use a 500mg slow release tablet every day. Mega doses of Vit.C help your body and skin fight off all sorts of attacks – it helps your skin to heal from any damage it’s taken.

  • In the summer or the cities, take Vitamin E supplements. This helps your skin to resist the effects of free radicals (sun and smoke).

  • Limit the amount of caffeine you drink – it’s a diuretic and will dry out your skin.

  • The same goes for alcohol.

  • Give up smoking, as that damages the skin as well – the last thing you need is for your skin to suffer any extra stress.

  • And follow the aftercare instructions that your electrolygist gives you (or which you find on HairTell).

I’ve followed this skin care routine for the last two years, and I can testify that my skin damage has almost completely gone. I used to notice it every time I looked in a mirror, but now I can’t find any trace of it even if I look very closely.

In fact, the only time I can see it, is with blue light from directly overhead. And even then, it’s not that bad at all.

Hope this helps …


Thanks for the good info. Hs the elasticity returned as well? I am trying to decide between thermolysis and blend right now and elasticity is a big concern of mine. I feel as if I have already done some damage to it from the 9 failed laser treatments (I know, don’t say it!) and don’t want to aggravate it. Thanks for the help.

Yes, the elasticity has returned as well.
My skin is once again plump and smooth.

I’m afraid my bad experience with thermolysis has left me a bit untrusting of it. I know that’s irrational - in good hands, thermolysis is fine.

Also, if you’ve got very soft, downy hairs, then you will only need very gentle thermolysis treatment. That will minimise the risk of skin damage no end.

If you’re not sure, what you could do is to find a practitioner that does blend and start with that. It’s harder to cause damage with blend (though it’s not impossible).

If you get a good impression (hygene, technique, etc), then you can ask to try a little test patch of thermolysis, say at the end of a session.

If that turns out OK, then great. If you get a bad reaction you can switch back to blend, with little or no damage done.

Good luck!

(And don’t feel bad about trying laser … I did, but like you I gave up when I realised it wasn’t working for me.)

I’m curious if you had any pitting. I seem to have some showing up recently and am wondering if it is the result of recent or months ago treatment. Is this a normal part of the process that fades? I will try to get a pic. so everyone can see what I am talking about, but up close the texture looks a little like a golf ball. Did yours look like this? It’s not noticable unless I am right up on it in the mirror with no make-up on and high lighting. But still, I don’t want to make a bad situation worse by continuing treatment. I thought my electrologist was good. I never feel plucking and the pain is always tolerable. I usually develop small scabs that I do not pick and they are gone in a week. I have found a lot of comfort in this post about healing and am hoping you can offer some more details. Thanks!

Yes, I had quite a bit of pitting. It’s exactly as you describe it - a bit like a golf ball. It was so bad that I considered having a chemical peel to try to solve the problem.
Though I’m very glad I didn’t, as I found it clears up by itself…

I think it was all caused by poor thermolysis treatment.
I used to have quite a lot of hair, and looking back, I’m sure I was overtreating my skin in more ways than one.

(The settings were too high, the insertions were too close together, the machine was faulty, etc. etc. I could go on…)

Also, I used to shave that area, and I remember wondering whether the shaved hairs were causing the pits as the razor lifted them out of the skin, cut them, and let them sink back below the surface.

Eventually, I found a new practitioner. We gave my pitted areas a break from treatment while we concentrated on other areas, using blend. Gradually, my skin has cleared up, and doesn’t look pitted at all, now.

Please do send your pictures in, and I’ll see if my pitting was anything like what you have.

Otherwise, I’d be inclined to treat this as a bit of a warning sign … maybe take a break from that area and give your skin a chance to recover a bit?
If you’re really worried, you could always try getting a few consultations from other practitioners - a good one will be able to see the pitting and advise you on it.

And, if you’re using thermolysis, you could try switching to blend, which I found to be more gentle on the skin. However, I notice that one other poster on this site has found quite the converse to be true, so please don’t take my word as gospel - it might be different for you, too.

I hope that helps …