question about treatment

Hello. I have been receiving electrolysis treatment for fine facial hair. My practitioner is using thermolysis, I was wondering, I am feeling a pull or pop more frequently than I like, my electrologist is saying that it is a “deposit” on the end of the hair because the hair is fine and an accelerated vellus hair, she states that this happens frequently when starting treatment. So shows it to me and it looks like a white ball. However, I am wondering, is she giving me b.s. or is this true?? The hair is fine and I wonder if the insertions are accurate, on occasion she will say a hair broke off… Not sure what to do, I do not want this hair to be tweezed and get worse, I would die. Also, I previously had crappy treatment and want to make sure they are not stretching my pores, she is using a size 4 insulated probe, the hair is quite fine, is this size okay or too big?? It does look like a fine needle…Thanks so much for your help, it is a jungle out here…

Size 4? I can’t tell you for sure because I didn’t see your hair. It also could depend on the magnification she uses.

It is normal to feel a pop once in a while. All in all, you don’t feel a real tweeze. If most hairs she treats make the pop, then it might be inaccurate insertions or inadequate settings.

The probe doesn’t stretch the pore, but the pore may be a little more visible, because it used to contain a hair. It is actually preferable to use the biggest comfortable size probe. Bigger probes cost the same as smaller, so if s/he’s comfortable with a 4, it shouldn’t worry you. Do you feel the insertions?

I do not always feel the insertion…the popping and tug is felt probably one out of every three hairs. I do not want to be over treated after my bad experiences and I fear skin damage, but tweezing would be horrible to, the hair is fine and I do not want to make it dark and more noticeable. Anyone have good treatment, no skin damage in Ohio?? Any referrals would be appreciated…Thank you. Why is this so hard?

Don’t be so wary of raising the settings if your electrologist feels that it could be beneficial. You are not being overtreated with permanent skin damage if you don’t see a fierce skin reaction after treatment. However, if you feel a lot of pricks and a lot of pops, it is not such a good indication as far as treatment effectiveness is concerned.

Okay, I need more feedback, I just had another session and practically every hair she treated I felt a tug and pop coming out, I wonder if her insertions are accurate, she is using an insulated probe, I do not want overtreatment, but I do need to have effective treatment. What are your thoughts, is she tweezing and I am in for a nightmare of horrible dark regrowth, my hair is basically fine but medium to light, I do not want a major problem, thoughts please…This has been a dreadful process, it is hard to find anyone good. Why is this hair removal such a crock of c–p, I wish there were some really good practitioners in my area, I am about to scream.

You could get a few treatments and then wait a few months to see how effective the treatments were. It’s difficult to compare from memory, so photographs would help.

I don’t know how well you can tell from the hair’s resistance whether the epilation has been successful. Most of the hair’s anchoring is in the upper third to half of the follicle, while the portion you need to kill is in the lower third. So you can get a released, unkilled hair, and you can get a killed, hard to release hair. Experts, please correct me if I have this wrong.

To best guarantee effective treatment, ensure that the insertions are deep enough to get the lower third and have them be strong enough to easily release the hair. As long as you can tolerate more after-effects (redness, etc.) and the insertions are adequately deep, I would suggest increasing the settings to be more confident of effective treatment.

  • Eric

Eric, Just wondering? If she got the couple of treatments and then waited, would she not have still hair cycling in? Doesn’t it take time for all of the hair not visible to grow in? And what about the tweezed hair? I was told it takes a tweezed hair at least 2 months and maybe longer to reappear. Just trying to understand the process. Thanks.

Good question. It’s a complex situation: The follicles are all in different stages of growth at any one time. Each follicle can be in one of three stages: growing (anagen), resting with a hair (catagen to telogen), and resting empty (also telogen). The length of each stage and overall cycle time varies depending on the type of hair and location on the body.

If one treatment were effective on every follicle that had a hair, there still would be some regrowth, which would gradually come in as the resting empty follicles cycled back to anagen.

If the treatment were not effective - as with tweezing, some injury happens but is repaired - the anagen follicles would soon grow back hair. The regrowth would be denser and faster, as the healing anagen growth would be on top of growth from resting follicles cycling back to anagen.

So the results could be hard to interpret, but in any event, if the hair is thinner after about three to six months, it’s a fairly safe bet the treatments were effective.

  • Eric

Good points.
One of the really hard things about this is that it really takes until the next year to know just how effective one treatment was. If you take a picture of the treated area prior to treatment, have one and only one treatment, wait a year and then take another picture one year later, you see what that one treatment did.

All other hairs growing in that area, although mistakenly called regrowth even by some electrologists (shame on you) is not actually regrowth, because it has never been treated to be RE-growth. It is just natural growth from previously untreated follicles. True regrowth can only happen when a follicle is treated, and a hair (usually thinner and weaker) sprouts up in that follicle post treatment. This would take at least 6 weeks to happen, by the way.

James and Eric, Thank you for the clarifications. It disturbs me when many comment that electroloysis is not working on them when they have only been for a few treatments in a very short period of time and in reality the process takes from what I was told 12 to 18 months from the first total clearance to get to finished. And, if there is a hormonal imbalance dormant hair follicules will be actived to grow a hair. Seems you could put hairs into categories. Regrowth would be a hair that was insufficiently treated and regrows. Undergrowth is the hair that is in a resting stage and will cycle in by 12 months. Then, new growth would be dormant follicules that have never grown a hair, but because of hormonal stimulation become activated. Am I on track? If so,I do not think that this is explained to electrolysis patients.

I think your categorizations are appropriate.

Unfortunately, categorizing doesn’t help the patient very much. If the patient gets an area cleared and new hair grows back, how could anyone tell whether it was regrowth, “undergrowth”, or new growth? The only way to be sure is to stop the treatments and wait. The patient is presented with some agonizing choices: continue painful and expensive treatments, going on faith, or let the hair grow for a year?

One test that works: If the patient has an area with just a few hairs, ideally similar to the hairs the patient will need epilated, those hairs can be epilated for a trivial cost, and the patient can verify which if any hairs are actually growing back. Our test was on two or three hairs near the navel. Now, every time we start to lose the faith, we look back at the navel, where no more hairs are growing.

  • Eric

How do you know that there are only a few hairs in that test area? Wouldn’t thee be dormant hairs that will cycle in? Therefore, would you need to continue to treat the area for 12 or so months? Sorry to have so many questions, but I want to get this straight.

i think DIY has a good idea.
unless for some reason the dormant hair that appeared was in the exact same area as the one that had been removed, i think you’d know the difference.
i’m just saying this from my personal experience with places where i have a few stray seemingly-out of place hairs like around the naval and the one crazy one behind my knee…after all the time i’ve spent tweezing and shaving and using stupid creams from drugstores to try to get these hairs to die…i’m so familiar with them i think i’d know. in a hair dense area, i wouldnt pretend to have a clue about whether a hair was new or old…but with these weird annoying out-of-place sort of hairs i think i could tell.


You’re asking good questions!

You’re right that if you were to epilate a hair at beginning of telogen you might have a long wait, as much as four months, to see whether the follicles regrow. If you epilate in anagen, you have a good chance of seeing the hair regrow soon if it wasn’t properly treated.

These particular hairs were an ideal marker because there never were more than one or two there. The time a hair spends dormant, with no hair in the follicle, depends entirely on the amount of abrasion the hair receives. If no abrasion, the hair will remain until pushed out by a new anagen hair. In this case, at the navel, there was little abrasion, and since no more than one or two hairs were ever observed, I conclude there were two live follicles.

Since we caught them in anagen, and I haven’t seen regrowth over four months, I feel confident they have been epilated properly. Note that these hairs should have about a six month cycle, so I won’t be certain until several months from now.

Under any event, the fewer hairs you’re dealing with, the easier it will be to ensure that their treatment is successful.

They’re sneaky little bastards, that’s for sure.

  • Eric