My Electrolysis Journey in Atlanta

I’m a fair blonde woman in my late forties. I’m losing my hair on my head (thin and fine) but getting darker hair in places I don’t want it – upper lip and chin. This year I began to get a faint 5’o’clock shadow. It’s gotten to the point that I’m now shaving daily to avoid embarrassment.

I recently had dinner with a longtime friend who is transgendered. She transitioned into being a woman 17 years ago. We became friends five years after she “switched teams” so I’ve only known her as a woman, not a man. The transgender issue doesn’t really come up for us much. However, the topic of electrolysis did. My friend told me that before she “switched teams,” she spent two years getting extensive electrolysis at Mishael’s Electrolysis in Atlanta, Georgia. She drove four hours round-trip from Birmingham, Alabama to Atlanta, Georgia for electrolysis because Mishael’s was so highly recommended in the transgender community.

Mishael’s did a beautiful job. My friend has no hair whatsoever on her face. She had me touch her face – it’s baby soft and smooth … Nothing like mine these days!

My New Year’s Resolution was to get laser in 2011, but lasers scare me. I know of two people who had very good experiences with laser hair removal, but I also know of two people who will never use laser again due to serious issues (neither of these two had laser hair removal, however).

My biggest electrolysis concern came after readng this thread where a number of women reported upper lip scarring/wrinkles after electrolysis:

OH NO!!!

I called Hanna Behrens at Mishael’s Electrolysis, who treated my friend in the late 90’s. I think they do thermolysis rather than galvanic. Anyway, I explained that I have sensitive skin and concerns about hyperpigmentation and scarring/wrinkling. Hanna couldn’t promise this would never occur but said said we would go very slow in the beginning, only doing a little of the upper lip and keeping the first session confined to 15 minutes to see how I do.

I also called Professional Electrolysis Service (“PES”) in Atlanta. The owner trains people in electrolysis and is recommended by local medical institutions. There was an initial $50 consult fee with PES, so that’s why I opted to see Mishael’s Electrolysis – Mishael’s requires no initial consult fee. However, my attraction to PES is that they offer all three modalities of electrolysis. I read somewhere on the internet that galvanic is actually kinder and gentler on the skin than thermolysis. Naturally, I’d rather go very slow and end up with no scarring/wrinkling/hyperpigmentation than go fast and risk the alternative… Also, unlike Mishael’s, PES assured me that no scarring/hyperpigmentation/wrinkling would occur with their electrolysis.

While I haven’t ruled PES out, I went ahead and had a 15-minute session with Mishael’s Electrolysis this morning. I drank lots of water (recommended by someone on this board) and took a couple Advils 30 minutes before my session. I didn’t shave for 4 days, as requested by Mishael’s.

Mishael’s office was immaculate and professional. Hanna was lovely but didn’t chat while working on me – which I appreciate! … The pain wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I once had a brow threading session that was far more painful than Hanna’s electrolysis this morning – the threading brought tears to my eyes and I prayed for it to end! My electrolysis session today was very easy in comparison … So electrolysis was uncomfortable, yes, but not what I would characterize as “painful.” Fifteen minutes was all I cared for, though. I wouldn’t fancy doing this for 30 minutes myself.

I didn’t ice afterward. Hanna said that icing only alleviates swelling and doesn’t do much to accelerate healing. She instructed me to keep my face clean and not put makeup on it for 24 hours. (I’ve since swabbed it with witch hazel a couple times.) We scheduled a second appointment for mid-February. Hanna invited me to drop by her office to get more upper lip work done in the interim, if I felt the need to.

She thinks a 15-minute session each month will bring quick improvement for me. This is less than I imagined it would be, so I’m happy. A 15-minute session only costs $40.

My upper lip and chin were swollen/rippling and slightly red as I left the office. There were welts and lines of raised swelling on my upper lip and beneath my chin. The swelling was very obvious to me, but I don’t think it was obvious to anyone else. I had a hair appointment several hours later and no one noticed anything amiss. The redness disappeared within 2 hours, but the swelling has been slower to go down. My chin looked slightly mishapen as I was getting my hair cut but, again, I don’t think it was obvious to anyone else.

I’m hoping the raised areas – welts/rippling swelling – are fairly typical for electrolysis?? … I do wonder if the galvanic method would be gentler on the skin and would produce less swelling?? … It’s been nearly 12 hours and the raised “lines” of welts are still there, but not obvious unless I stretch my mouth out in an exaggerated way.

I haven’t seen scabbing yet, but I imagine that’s on its way. Hanna told me the scabbing wouldn’t be bad and can easily be covered with a little makeup. I’m religious about sunblock (no wrinkles!). I’ve been prone to cold sores all my life but am taking Lysine tablets to prevent this – and praying!

In view of the welts/raised ridges of swelling on my upper lip, I’m thinking about postponing further treatments on my upper lip for 9 months or so. It’s not that I don’t have confidence in Hanna. It’s that I have very little confidence in my skin’s reaction to things. (My dermatologist placed me on 7 days of steroids because my skin overreacted to an garden variety Oil of Olay product in early December.)

I read that scarring sometimes doesn’t show up until 6-12 months after the electrolysis session.

I am definitely proceeding with electrolysis on the chin, however. I imagine any issues would be less visible on the chin and far more forgiving – assuming any such issues occur.

I also plan to do a consult with PES to see what their approach is toward upper lip work. However, as it stands today, I’m happy with Mishael’s and will continue chin work there for the upcoming months, if nothing else.

Any comments from the professionals here are welcome. I’m a newcomer to all of this.


First off, have you ever had an hormonal evaluation by your physician? Hair loss and the recent appearance of darker hairs on the face (five o’clock shadow)that you have to shave means something, but that is not for discussion on this board. Please tell your doctor about that and see what she/he says. This is VERY IMPORTANT so please get evaluated.

There is no need to be afraid of lasers. Anecdotal stories from two people (who did not have laser??? Is that right?) should not be your guide. Millions of people world wide and have been very happy with their results, however, if we are talking about facial hair only,then the two electrolysis salons that you refer to, could handle your facial hair and you won’t need to even consider laser treatment.

The link you provided is more blish-blash about improper electrolysis care. Galvanic is rarely done today. It will kill hair, but so will properly performed thermolysis and blend. I choose thermolysis for my clients mostly. The ones with sensitive skin do well and I am not kidding! Upper lip sessions are not confined to 15 minutes, but if the client insists, I so comply.

Now, not all electrologists follow the same paths to glory, but we all can give the client permanent hair removal if we are performing as we are trained to do. The link is not the final say on what electrolysis can and cannot do for you. If you get proper care, you will not have wrinkles, hyperpigmentation or scabbing. These are not automatically accepted side effects, so don’t focus on that. Also, people like to raise up one modality as being better than the others. This is just not true. You are paying the electrologist for what she/he knows and skill is king in this profession. Check out both places, get treatment, go home and see how you heal. Decide which business is best for your needs and go from there.

I think Hanna and I are sisters. I don’t like to chat either when I am working. I like to focus, go into my hair trance and thus, get the hair off asap. After all, people start paying me once I begin inserting and they want their money’s worth.

Your healing sounds normal. Expect something to happen as tissue is being affected. Swelling is a normal happening. I would not go the galvanic way. You will pay more for getting less hair removed. It is an effective method, but at least try thermolysis of blend first and see how it goes for you. Or, if you are really unsure, have the electrologists do samples for all three and decide what you want. If your electrologists agree to do all three modalities that would be a very patient act on their part. Some will only do the modality they are most comfortable with and that should be respected. They are very busy and some do not do the patience, hand holding thing very well, but do at least ask.

I wouldn’t proceed too slowly as there is no need to do so after you have done all you can to check them out. I know you desire to exercise caution, but if you want the hair off, you don’t have to go months in between treatments.

Tell your electrologists that you get cold sores as well and PLEASE get a medical consult appointment about those symptoms first thing Monday morning if you haven’t done so already.

I haven’t had a hormonal evaluation but absolutely will now.

I’m glad to hear that the rippling/swelling on the upper lip is normal. As a first-timer, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I’ll be sure to tell Hanna about the cold sores, too…

I appreciate you taking the time to address some of these concerns with me. Very helpful!

You are most welcome. Hope all turns out nicely for you!


I agree with Dee. :slight_smile: I really hope everything turns out well, and you find your initial concerns are unwarranted.

I’m saying this as someone with sensitive skin who’s undergoing facial electrolysis. I’m very fortunate to have a skilled, talented, and caring electrologist and thermolysis has not caused any issues whatsoever for me.

Very encouraging to hear of your experience, Caith! It’s good to know. Have you been getting electrolysis for long?

Well, here’s DAY 2:

There is some scabbing today but, as Hanna predicted, it’s not at all bad. In fact, I didn’t feel the need to cover anything with makeup today. That surprises me. I had images of angry, red scabs everywhere on my upper lip and chin one day after treatment, but that’s not the case at all. Yesterday’s rippled swelling is gone, too.

I did make a consult appointment with another Atlanta electrolysis expert, Voncille Vaughn-Burdette (PES), next Saturday to discuss galvanic electrolysis of the upper lip. We talked this morning. Like Hanna, Voncille is very nice and has decades of experience. She told me she uses the most current electrolysis equipment available on the market and does all three approaches – galvanic, blend and thermolysis – depending on her clients’ specific needs. For upper lips, she uses galvanic electrolysis the most. I’m going to see her next Saturday.

I’m still very happy with Hanna and plan to continue seeing her for my chin each month. However, for peace of mind, I may give Voncille a try on the upper lip and see how it goes. If I like the galvanic approach on the lip, I will probably opt to see both of them on a monthly basis – Hannah for chin and Voncille for upper lip. We’ll see …

It will be good to have a comparison

I’m on DAY 3 now:

Unbelievable. I have no makeup on, and my face looks very good. Hanna did lots of work on my chin 2 days ago, but the scabs – if you can call them that – are very faint and barely noticeable. Everything is smooth, too. She did a wonderful job.

I continue to take lots of Lysine each day to avoid a cold-sore breakout … So far, so good.

Overall, this first experience has been much easier than I imagined.

Unless something happens (i.e., breakout), I won’t post again until I have my galvanic electrolysis consult with Voncille on Saturday.


P.S. I do want to add this – Hanna is immaculate! After my first session, I reached out to shake her hand. She hesitated for a split second, but warmly accepted. Then I asked where the bathroom was. (I drank about a gallon of water to prepare for my visit!)… Hanna asked to use the bathroom first so she could wash her hands before seeing her next client. I didn’t take this as a reflection of my own hygiene (ha), but more of her awareness of the need for immaculate hygiene with clients. That’s a sign of a great electrolysis practitioner, I think.

Yes, those are good signs. Many people would make fun of seeing such behaviors regarding cleanliness.

Breezy, I’m very happy to hear it went so well for you. :slight_smile:

To answer your earlier question, I’ve been having electrolysis since late November 2010. Weekly sessions of one and occasionally two hours have provided first clearance on my lips and almost half my chin. Last weekend’s session was strictly maintenance, cleaning up all the very fine stragglers and what little regrowth has occurred.

Cleanliness is DEFINITELY a requirement for this very skilled work; before, during, and especially afterward. Please keep us updated as your treatment progresses. It’s always encouraging to read others’ success stories.

One more thought here, I have come to find out that people DO watch the cleanliness factor, just like Caith. They observe closely the washing of hands and the general appearance of the office. I have been ridiculed many times, not in my office setting, but in my personal life for being too overly concerned with cleanliness issues. That concern has only helped my business because no one is comfortable with an electrologist whose office doesn’t smell or look organized and clean. Hand washing and wearing gloves are bigger bonuses than actual advertising. If a client observes the care and time you take to do these simple acts, that makes them feel cared about. If the client can see you wiping the “zone” with disinfectant before they lay down, that eases any anxiety they have about concerns of laying in anothers previous occupied space with their particular “germs”. So, I salute Hanna and thanks Caith for bringing your observations before us.

As a consumer I agree. I like seeing the gloves, the sterile probe, and the fresh linens! Definitely makes me more comfortable with my practitioner.

Im glad to hear this is going so well for you!!!

The cold sore issue…im prone to them as well, and have had to cancel one visit because of a cold sore. I have noticed Ive gotten them less frequently doing electro as I avoid the sun, which is a huge stressor to my face. I break out on my lower lip and upper lip, even spreads up to my nose at their worst!

Keep up the lysine, avoid those natural stressor, sun, wind…and stay calm!

GOOD luck from here on out!!!

Laser is great, but only on coarse dense growth and on larger areas like bikini or legs. For your situation, you picked the right method.

Are you using aftercare? It sounds like all is going well, but I’d recommend using witch hazel during the day and tea tree oil at night to make the healing process even faster.

Thanks, everyone, for your input.

Vibe1luv, I have the same issue. I was out in the sun last year (on a cold day, without sunblock) and the ensuing cold sore outbreak made my upper lip appear tattooed. Usually, though, I avoid the sun as much as possible and bathe in sunblock. Lysine has been a lifesaver for me. I’m happy to report that I’ve had no outbreaks since my first electrolysis visit.

LAGirl, yes, I’m using witch hazel and tea tree oil after reading posts on this website. Both were very helpful.

Well, this is my update. I had my second electrolysis appointment with a different electrologist, Voncille Burdette.

Actually, it was supposed to be a $50 consultation but it turns out that she includes electrolysis in that consult, which I hadn’t expected. I thought I would only spend an hour with her, but it was longer than that because she included a 15-minute electrolysis session with the initial consult fee.

Voncille (“Vicki”) is like Hanna in that she keeps her office immaculately clean. In fact, she gets referrals from Emory Hospitals’s pathology clinic and, as a result, is required to submit to rigorous monthly hygiene inspections. As with Hanna’s office, Vicki’s office called beforehand to confirm my appointment. A client happened to be substituting for Vicki’s assistant, so I asked her what she thought of Vicki’s work. The client began to purr, “She’s the best in Atlanta. You’ll see that for yourself. She’s always booked months in advance, so that should tell you something.”

Vicki spent 45 minutes going over my information sheet, medical history and explaining the various methods of electrolysis and how they work. (It’s obvious she used to teach other electrologists.) Vicki showed me her equipment and explained it to me. She is a big believer in using all three methods in her practice, saying that, in her experience, “one size does not fit all.” She says she will use the method best suited for the client’s skin and hair. After examining my skin, she announced she would only use galvanic on me. Period. She said galvanic is a slower process but would be far more gentle on my particular skin. She said isn’t something she would have to convince me of, because it would be very obvious to me after my first session. She also said that galvanic is ultimately the most effective form of electrolysis, pointing to a medical diagram as she explained why.

Then she went to work on me, using galvanic electrolysis. When she saw my chin, she stopped and became upset. She put a mirror to my chin and said, “Michele, you’ve been burned.” (This morning, I saw that I still had numerous pinprick scabs/brown-red marks in two sizeable clusters under my chin. I also have some faint marks on my upper lip which I can easily hide with foundation. I thought the pronounced chin marks would be gone by now, so it did disappoint me, but Hanna never promised I wouldn’t have marks – only that any residual hyperpigmentation would go away in time.)

Vicki was very careful to say that she likes thermolysis, can do thermolysis with the best of them, and often does. However, she said she will not do thermolysis on every client. It depends on the client’s skin. She said my “porcelain” skin type should never have thermolysis done on it – only Galvanic, in her opinion. She pointed to my chin to show me why. She assured me the hyperpigmentation would go away in time.

The pricks felt a bit easier than thermolysis, but not enough that I’d fall asleep – it was electrolysis, after all. The pricks didn’t feel any longer, either. As with thermolysis, it was uncomfortable at times on my upper lip, but not painful.

Vicki applied some post-treatment application on my face for a few minutes to sooth my skin. She said most don’t do this, but she feels it helps the skin recover. I can’t remember what it was. I’ll pay attention next time…

Then she took me to a small kitchen, where she prepared a bowl filled with epsom salt and warm water. She had me soak a washcloth in the bowl and place it on my chin/upper lip numerous times over a 5-minute period. Then she had me apply aloe vera and a cream to my face. She instructed me to use the epsom salt water routine twice a day for 5 minutes over several days, followed by witch hazel. She also told me to continue taking Lysine and to inform her of any outbreaks pre-treatment.

Like Hanna, Vicki didn’t talk much while working on me, but was very chatty and personable before and after my session – so much so that I felt like a part of her family by the time I left! (It’s the south, you know…)

I asked Vicki how often I should see her if we began working together. She told me two 30-minute $75 sessions each month at the beginning. (I was disappointed to hear this, but I knew going in that galvanic would be more time-consuming and thus more costly than thermolysis.) Vicki explained that the sessions would gradually decrease to every three weeks, every month, every other month, etc., over a two-year period. Galvanic is not quick or cheap.

I asked if I would notice a difference by summer, and she replied (like Hanna), “Much sooner than that.”

So here’s my observation post-treament –

I’m ABSOLUTELY THRILLED with the way my skin looked after the 15-minute galvanic session today. It’s too soon to know what the scabbing will be (if any), but the swelling and redness was completely gone by the time I arrived home 25 minutes later. Unbelievable! (My husband saw me and said,“Weren’t you supposed to have an electrolysis appointment this afternoon?” lol) … I liked Hanna a lot, but after experiencing a session with Vicki today, it’s obvious that my skin is less reactive with galvanic electrolysis.

If I start sprouting scabs everywhere this week and my opinion of galvanic changes, I’ll be sure to let you know that. However, tonight, looking at my skin, it’s hard to believe that will happen.

Last Saturday, I said I planned to see Hanna for the chin and Vicki for the upper lip. Today I’ve changed my mind. While I hate spending $150 a month for galvanic, I’d rather choose a slow, more costly form of electrolysis if my skin can become friends with it. I’m going to see Vicki a couple times each month through summer and see how it goes.

The challenge is that: VICKI IS BOOKED SOLID! She pulled open her appointment book and we couldn’t find any openings, even on Saturdays. She’s going to have her assistant call me on Monday. She assured me that we would work something out.

I’ll keep you posted…

P.S. I forgot to mention –

After getting input on this board, I made a February appointment with a well-known Atlanta OB-GYN who specializes in hormonal testing, etc. The good news is that neither of my electrolysis practitioners think I have much facial hair (compared to their other clients). It helps to get an objective opinion.


That’s surprising. The probe should have been in the follicle for 1-2 MINUTES for EACH hair. Something isn’t right. For comparison, blend takes about 10-12 seconds per follicle, slow thermolysis takes about 3-6 seconds per follicle, and flash thermolysis takes a fraction of a second per follicle.[/quote]

Thanks for telling me this. I’ll mention this to Vicki. She told me it was galvanic, but it certainly wasn’t 1-2 minutes for each hair that I was experiencing. More like 10-12 seconds …

Whatever method of electrolysis I choose, I want it to be safe – but also effective.

It may have been blend, which is a combination of galvanic and thermolysis.

In my experience with blend on my face, I only ever had temporary redness. Never any scabbing.

I doubt if anyone does single probe galvanic. Breezy, you probably heard the word galvanic as she was explaining the blend method, which uses galvanic and thermolysis. Blend takes several seconds to accomplish a release of a hair. Ask her again what she is doing to clear this up.

I bet you’re right – I will ask, for sure. Thanks!

P.S. My skin looks fantastic one day later …