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Technical Notes

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Shortwave or Thermolysis

High frequency Electropilation
Low Current Galvanic Electropilation
Laser Treatment
Blend Electropilation

High frequency Electropilation
The high-frequency (h-f) method became popular in the USA in the 1930's and 1940's primarily due to its apparent simplicity and instantaneous results. A single needle is inserted into the hair follicle and an oscillating current in the h-f range is discharged which coagulates the tissue around the needle. Renewed interest in permenent hair removal by physicians soon dissipated due to the high rate of regrowth. However among electrologists this continues to be the prevalent modality.

An important limitation of this modality is that when the h-f current discharges from the needle it does not discharge evenly over the entire length of the blade but instead favors only one section around which it does the greatest damage (Figures 1, 2). However, permanent hair removal requires destruction of the entire lower two-thirds of the hair follicle (Figure 3). This modality is adequate for shallow follicles but in the case of deep hair follicles a portion of the significant tissue may be left viable. This, along with the common practice of using short needles, may account for the high rates of regrowth reported for h-f in the literature.

Electoepilation needles inserted into the tissue.

Fig. 1: The galvanic current discharges from the full length of the inserted needle thus destroying the entire length of the follicle. The longer the current is permitted to flow the further the alkaline reaction infiltrates laterally.

Fig. 2: The high-frequency current does not discharge from the full length of the needle blade but instead only one section. In a deep follicle portion of the tissue would remain viable and result in regrowth.

Fig. 3: To prevent regrowth the entire lower two-thirds of the hair follicle must be destroyed. This is what occurs with "true electrolysis.".

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Low Current Galvanic Electropilation
The primary features of the Modern Galvanic Method are:

  • low intensity direct current which is precisely regulated by microprocessor for both timing and intensity
  • a method which more efficiently uses the alkalinity generated
  • an approach which more precisely reaches the targeted tissue because of needle design and highly skilled and trained practioners.
The low intensity is sufficient to destroy the targeted tissue with only a mild inflammation reaction in the surrounding tissue. In most adult patients the redness dissipates within thirty minutes. The long, fine, highly flexible needles permit precise positioning and helps insure total destruction of the targeted tissue with only one treatment, insuring no regrowth.

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Blend Electropilation
The Blend methods were developed in an attempt to improve the effectiveness of the h-f modality. Hinkel Reported that deep hair follicles could not be destroyed with the h-f current alone and therefore added to the direct current in an attempt to reach the untreated tissue. The instantaneous feature of the h-f method is combined with the slower but more effective direct current electrolysis.

In an attempt to improve the rate of epilation some operators use moderate to high intensities of direct current, causing significant discomfort to the patient. Also, some operators attempt prolonged lower intensity high-frequency current which in deep insertions can result in extensive surface coagulation and scarification.

The blend methods in the hands of well trained, experienced operators have proved to be more effective than the high-frequency methods, but not as effective as electrolysis.

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Bordier H., Technique de l'èpilation diathermique, Monde med, Paris 42:78-81, 1932.

Chernosky, Marvin E., Permanent Removal of Superfluous Hair, Tex Med. 67:72-8 Oct 1971.

Cotsarelis, George, Sun T-T, Lavker, R. M., Label-Retaining Cells Reside in the Bulge Area of Pilosebaceous Unit: Implications for Follicular Stem Cells, Hair Cycle, and Skin Carcinogenesis, Cell. Vol. 61, 1329-1337, June 29, 1990.

Hinkel, Arthur R., Lind, R.W., BA, MA, Electrolysis, Thermolysis And The Blend, Arroway, 1968.

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