Exploring this Job

To find out more about the field of electrology, contact local trade schools that offer electrology education for information. If you are particularly interested in the field, make an appointment for an electrolysis consultation and perhaps pursue treatment for yourself.

Cosmetology schools, which are located in many different areas of the country, may also prove helpful for investigating this profession. Most schools and training programs allow interested students to speak with faculty and guidance counselors for further information. Ask if you can sit in on classes or contact a certified electrologist or patient of electrology to find out more about the field and procedures.

The Job

Electrologists, who usually conduct business in a professional office, salon, or medical clinic, work with only one patron at a time. This enables them to focus their complete attention and concentration on the delicate treatment they are performing. Because electrolysis can sometimes be uncomfortable, it reassures patrons to know that the practitioner's complete focus is on them and their needs. A high level of professionalism helps patients put their trust in the electrologist and may make them more receptive to the treatment.

According to the American Electrology Association, there are "three types, or modalities, of electrolysis used today—galvanic (current produces a chemical reaction), thermolysis (short-wave which produces heat), and a modality that blends the two."

Electrologists often begin their work with a personal consultation. It is essential for electrologists to interview potential clients to understand why they want to have the hair removed and what expectations they have about the procedure. The electrologist should explain the process in detail, discussing possible side effects as well as the effectiveness and duration of individual sessions and approximate length of time before the treatments are complete. A good electrologist also may suggest alternate methods of hair removal that may be more cost effective or appropriate for different clients and their needs.

Before beginning a session, the electrologist needs to make sure that the areas to be treated and all instruments used are sterile. A sanitary work environment is crucial for the safety of the electrologist as well as the person undergoing treatment. The electrologist may have an assistant or trainee help with these preparations. The first step in the treatment session is the cleansing of the area of skin that will be treated. Rubbing alcohol or an antiseptic is often used for this purpose. Once the skin is cleansed, hair removal can begin. Electrologists use a very-fine needle/probe to enter the opening of the skin fold, also known as the hair follicle. The needle also penetrates the papilla, which is the organ beneath the hair root. The electrologist sets the proper amount and duration of the electrical current in advance and transmits a minute amount of current to the area. The electrical current helps deaden the tissue, after which the hair can be lifted out gently with a pair of tweezers or forceps.

Electrologists determine the extent of treatments that will be necessary for complete removal of the unwanted hair. They may schedule weekly appointments that last 15, 30, 45, or even 60 minutes. The length of the individual appointments depends on both the amount of hair to be removed and the thickness and depth of the hair. Very coarse hair may take longer to treat, whereas fine hair may be permanently removed in only a few sessions. If a patient is very sensitive to the treatments, the electrologist may set up shorter appointments or schedule more time between sessions. Some electrologists use a gold needle on sensitive clients to minimize adverse reactions, which can include itching, bumps, redness, and pustules. Most of these reactions can be treated with topical ointments and proper skin care.

Electrologists can remove hair from almost any area of the body. The most common areas they treat are the arms, legs, chest, and portions of the face such as upper or lower lip, chin, or cheek. Electrologists should not remove hair from inside the ears or nose or from the eyelids. They should also have the written consent of a physician to remove hair from a mole or birthmark. As with many professions, electrologists should have malpractice insurance coverage.

As with all cosmetic treatments, the procedure can be fairly expensive. Since electrolysis is performed mainly for aesthetic reasons, it is generally not covered by any health insurance plans. Also, electrolysis is not a "quick fix." Constant maintenance is necessary for some clients, and people often have electrolysis treatments for years in certain areas before the hair root is finally destroyed.