Useful visualization of follicle stem cells

Here is an interesting image I found illustrating the location of follicle stem cells at different points in the hair growth cycle. I felt it was worth sharing here since having an understanding of this will go a long way toward helping one do electrolysis effectively.

The stem cells are what make the follicle capable of regenerating so they are ultimately what you must destroy if you want the hair to stop growing. It can be seen that while the bulge is the primary ‘reservoir’ of stem cells, the cells proliferate down the sheath during anagen phase.

Interestingly, it also shows that the bulb area at the base of a fully mature anagen hair is devoid of stem cells. Thus the traditional strategy of inserting to ‘full anagen depth’ would seem to be misguided, since in that case you are positioning the tip of the probe where the most energy is delivered at a place that does not need to be treated.

Also it can be seen that telogen and late stage catagen are actually the easiest to treat using electrolysis, since the stem cells are localized around the telogen ball at that point. In contrast, it is also clear why laser is best on early stage anagen hair and is incapable of treating telogen and catagen hairs, since the red part on the illustration at the base of catagen/telogen hairs has little pigmentation and will not absorb much laser energy.

This information is of particular use to DIY electrologists where you have the advantage of being able to feel where the energy is being delivered (especially when using insulated probes). I have developed several strategies for using that advantage to specifically target the repository of stem cells at the bulge to ensure that they are destroyed, since it is obvious that the stem cells there which extend away from the follicle are the most likely to survive in the case of undertreatment. I will post some info on that in another thread.

Also, see here for the article this image originates from:

Brilliant! Thanks for sharing.

Decades ago, in my many conversations with Art Hinkel, I remember him saying he was certain that “something else” was going on in the follicle, and simply attempting to destroy the papilla was just not enough. He gave me the analogy of the follicle having a “brain,” and he didn’t think the “brain was the papilla,” he thought it was higher up in the follicle. All of this was years before the discovery of the bulge and the discussion of stem cells.

Amazingly, there are still those among us that think that “only the papilla” is the target area.

Good information t4ngent!
This image shows that the theory “Electrolysis is effective only in anagen” is completely false. Unfortunately there are still many pros who believe in this.
This theory is based on that during telogen phase the follicle is inactive and two of its parts have disappeared, so these missing parts can not be removed with the needle.
However, being inactive is not the same than not being. The heart, or the brain (as named by Hinkel) of the follicle is still there during the entire cycle.

I usually use a simile to explain this matter to my customers: If you get shot in the heart, the bullet will kill, so if you’re asleep as if you are awake, what matters is that the bullet reaches a beating heart.

To be or not to be… (accurate in shooting), that is the question. :wink:

(My sincere apologies to lovers of Shakespeare, by destroying the original sentence…and the rest of the language.)

This is very interesting. So, if one is being treated when all visible hair is present at the time, even if the practicioner is unaware, one would be killing more than hairs on the anagen phase?

Is there any kind of special insertion for hairs not on the anagen phase or an insertion like in every other hair would do the trick? (if it is a good insertion, of course)

Yes, if things are done well.
Many of the hairs that we can see in your photos have reached the stage of rest. Probably, your electrologist is working mainly in telogen. You can check to see the roots of treated hairs on the blanket on the table. If most of the root hairs have a similar to a grain of salt, then I’m successful.

(I still do not understand how they have been trying to remove these hairs with lasers."

I have no evidence of what I am about to say; it’s speculation because I have done no testing.

Still, I am always cautious when using an insulated needle because of the high position of the stem cells. For this reason I usually use an insulated needle as a “last resort.” This is especially true when I’m removing big fat body hairs.

For me, being able to see the insulation is mandatory. For this reason, I prefer the Laurier to the Ballet insulated. How can you possibly use an insulated needle and not know exactly where the insulation is located? With the Laurier, you can place the insulation exactly where you want it (and probably still knock off the stem cells?).

Of course, I am not an expert at all at electrolysis, but isn’t’ this study shows that using non-insulated need will guarantee to kill more stem sells?
Please, correct me if I am wrong.

The length of the exposed tip is a very critical dimension to us Michael. They get longer as the diameter increases. If you feel the need to reach up farther into the bulge, shift to a larger diameter Probe. Just as your settings determine the diameter of your energy burst, your choice of Probe diameter determines the vertical size without having to move the Probe. This does not eliminate the need to move in all cases, but in many it will.

ekade: This is where the differences in epilators and techniques and needles comes into play. With epilators, Apilus will give more control when insulated needles are used. Fischer will result in major high frequency blowout with insulated needles. Techniques (there might be hundreds) include displacement of the needle during various times of the treatment. Needles come with very little to a lot of insulation. Pro-tec needles come with varying insulation coverage; Ballet’s is nearly invisible; Sterex covers all but the very point of the needle; and Laurier varies with diameter.

I would say that only thing guaranteeing to kill more stem cells the proficiency of the electrologist. We have those insertions and must watch for indications of puncturing the follicle wall AND determining that we’ve reached the right depth. We have epilator settings and insertion/extraction application techniques.

Thank you very much, Barbara, for explanation! I do appreciate it!

Hey Mike,

Yes, I am very aware of the ratio between diameter and length of the “working end.” My first pick, however, is still a tapered needle. Problem is, none of the tapered needles made today are exactly the right size — they don’t quite fit.

As Barbara says, it’s about many factors. Me: traditional blend, tapered needle and progressive epilation (two-handed technique is the key). It’s a dying art for sure. But this ole dinosaur is still a “raptor.” Grrrrrrrrr.

The old “Larry Douglas” tapered Hinkel-style were my favorites, but he’s out of business. He was a real “pain in the you-know-what” to deal with, however. (Notice that I said “however,” and not “too!” Amazing the different connotations language can engender?)

Michael, i cannot follow Your idea that the insulation must be visible, simply because the blank tip is always hidden while the probe is inserted. Under a good loupe the length of the insulation of the ballet insulated can be seen - it is about half of the length of the tip of a laurier size 2.

Anyway the approach should lead to a different insertion technique - optimize what usually is calles “shallow insertion”, especially strictly avoid deep insertions, and of course move vertically in order to reach the target region. What Dou You think about that?

I worked doing hair transplants (cutting the grafts, punching the receptor holes and inserting the grafts), so I have a very good feel for exactly where each layer of skin is located (epidermis, dermis, fat layer, sebaceous glands, bulge, etc), and the thickness of these layers. Actually, I don’t think an electrologist has really finished her education until she can see and examine a real-life dissected hair follicle under magnification. Photos and drawing are not the same.

The true location of sebaceous glands is shocking (nearly all drawings are flawed; essentially they are re-drawings of other drawings. Thus the errors are perpetrated.) Even photos do not give you the real sense of the skin: you must feel it and see the vast difference between, say, the dermis and subdermis. The layers ever smell differently. (Oh yes, nothing passed me by!)

As I insert the insulated probe, I put the working end in and insert to exactly where I want the insulation, i.e., to the upper dermis but not higher. So, I want to see the insulation itself. It’s not enough to just insert the needle and hope for the best. Does that answer the question?

I’d better have a look a the Ballet again. I simply gave up on them years ago. So, you can see the insulation?

And, oh, the FAT layer smells, well, disgusting!

During work i usually cannot see the insulation of the Ballet probes (well except when it detaches from the needle which sometimes happens - especially with size 2). On the open needle i can see it and therefore know where it ends (about 1.5 mm away from the tip, pretty consistent over all sizes). Well i admit that it is a bit hard to see it but possible.

I see it fine on the Ballet brand insulated probes, but I can see it even better on Laurier and Pro-Tech probes, FYI.

Coming back to the thread’s main topic:

does anycone know where and in what context this figure has been posted?

Did You notice that we must fully renew our understandung of the hair growth cycle? As far as i can read that picture it appears that the hair vanishes completely after falling out with just some stem cells remaining. These will eventually differentiate into a full new follicle (or even into two follicles as visible in the visualisation?) Furthermore there always seem to be some stray stem cells beneath the sebacous glands fairly far away from the hair and somewhat outside our target region.

This explains statements of a collegue in my further neighbourhood like " i always use an intensity slightly larger that the minimum needed to smoothly release the hair" and “it suffices not to insert to full depth”. (She knows what she is doing and gets good results).

What can wen learn from this for

a) prediction of results?
b) understanding why “they just won’t go away” (thread opened by Michael in this forum
c) improvement of our work?

I’ve spent the last hour or so searching for the insulation on a ballet needle size 4. I used a stereo microscope and a usb microscope and it is my opinion that it cannot be seen unless it is physically scraped off. I did this and it turns out that the insulation itself is almost clear, this is why it Can’t be seen against the steel of the needle. I have taken pictures of insulated and non insulated side by side and I personally think you cant tell them apart. I took a picture of the needle that I scraped and bent and the insulation can just about be seen where it has detached, it’s clear. I’ve included the packaging in the pictures so that they can be told apart. I took another picture of a size2 insulated next to a size4 non insulated and you can just see a tiny piece of broken away insulation between them, it’s clear. In this picture it might be just about possible to see the insulation on the size2 but it could be a trick of the light, I personally wouldn’t want to say for sure.
I don’t think it would be possible to see this with loupes, even 10X magnification. My stereo scope goes to 20X and the usb supposedly goes to 200X but I have my doubts (as usual :wink: ) either way the images are highly magnified and they’ve not been tweaked or adjusted. If anyone is interested get in touch via email and I’ll send them to you and maybe you could post them in this thread… I did try and it gave me a headache

( I am not referring to the pictures above when I say this.)

I can see a differentiation between the bare part of the needle/probe and where the insulated part begins on any size of the ballet insulated probes. The light has to be right though as it is not as easy to see certain characteristics like I can see immediately with the Laurier probe, without magnification. The insulated part of the Ballet has a one micron thick medical grade clear coating that they use it to make insertions smoother. At times, I have been working away and I see this funnel-shaped clear coating drop away from the probe. That, I assume, is the clear coating that covers the insulation and is not the insulation itself. So, I re-load with a new probe. I don’t know why that happens and no, the probes are not expired.