Does hair regrow after electrolysis hair removal?

Posted on October 29, 2018 by Ellen Defrancq
Electrolysis hair removal is the only method of hair removal that can claim to have permanent results according to the FDA.  As we all know, electrolysis is a lengthy process, and a certain amount of regrowth is part of that process.

Video explaining regrowth after electrolysis

Regrowth after electrolysis explained

To understand the process of regrowth and the ideal time interval between clearing sessions of electrolysis hair removal we first have to understand the basics of hair growth.

If we take a look at a random 10 hairs in the face about 4 out of 10 hairs are in the Resting phase, called Telogen. 6 out of 10 hairs are in the Growing phase, called Anagen.

3 days prior to the electrolysis session the hair is shaved. During the 3 days between shaving and your electrolysis session, only the hairs in the growing stage will grow. Hence the name growing phase. Notice in the example above that the 1st hair early in the Growing phase still has not reached the surface of the skin.

This means 5 on 10 hairs are not visible at the time of the first clearing electrolysis session. So they are not treated as the electrologist can only treat the hair that is visible. This is called “FALSE” regrowth. Let’s say in a 6th hair the shot of the electrologist failed to kill the hair. This is called “TRUE” regrowth.This means you will have a TOTAL “regrowth” of 6 out of 10 hairs after the first session. Only one of them in this example is true “regrowth”.

Regrowth electrolysis hair removal

Hair in the final week of resting appears within one week


In this example hair number 4 is in her final day of resting the day of treatment. This hair will start growing the day after the electrolysis session. It will appear on the surface of the skin within the week. The early anagen hair will even reach the surface in less than a week.

Hair in the first week of resting appears after the resting duration is finished

Now let’s have a look what happens with the hair on the other extreme. Hair 1 started resting the day of the shaving. The duration of the resting phase is also not the same at different areas of the face.

The lip hairs are on average 6 weeks in rest, the rest of the beard 10 weeks. Mind you, these are the average so there is variation between person and the other. Also for the same hair the duration of rest and growing.

If hair 1 is a lip hair, she will be in rest for 6 weeks before appearing on the lip. Every lip hair appearing before 6 weeks was not visible so not treated during the 1st clearing session.

If hair 1 is another beard hair, she will be in rest for 10 weeks before appearing on the face. Every hair appearing before 10 weeks on the rest of the face was not treated during the 1st clearing session.

What happens with the electrolysis shot that missed to kill the hair follicle?


The missed shots on the lip will become visible on average 6 weeks after treatment. This means that you will have a little peak of regrowth of hairs on the lip on average 6 weeks after treatment. The missed shots of the rest of the beard will become visible after 10 weeks, with a little peak of regrowth at the same time.

How much regrowth after electrolysis hair removal is normal?

Electrolysis Regrowth can be classified in two main categories:

  1. False regrowth:
    • Hair is in different stages of growth at any given time and electrolysis can only be performed on visible hair. The length of the total growing cycle varies from person to person and even within different regions on the face and body of one person.
    • Transformation of the unremoved vellus to terminal hair caused by hormonal imbalances and other still unknown factors.
  2. True regrowth:
    • Regrowth of hairs from insufficiently destroyed bulges. To prevent scarring we have to find a balance between the killing rate and skin protection. Just turning up the intensity will kill the hair for sure but also result in scarring and pitting. The proficiency of the electrologist will be the main factor influencing this type of regrowth.

The endless controversy about regrowth in electrolysis hair removal is largely due to the fact you cannot tell if the hair is true regrowth or, for example, an anagen hair replacing an earlier shed telogen hair. You cannot look at a hair and be certain, because “new growth” hairs and “regrowth” hairs look the same.

There are electrologist that think a hair has to be treated several times before it is permanently destroyed. While there may be some truth to the “breaking down” concept, we don’t believe in it. We believe that you either destroy the follicle, or you don’t. If the follicle is not destroyed, the regrowth ultimately achieves its original size.

There will always be a certain amount of re-growth after initial electrolysis treatments, even when they are performed by a skilled electrologist. Whilst opinions differ as to what is an acceptable percentage, most experienced electrologists estimate that for a treatment to be considered effective, at least 40-50 percent of the hairs should be permanently removed with each treatment.The average killing rate is 50-60 % with 60-75% being roughly the highest level possible. Experts cannot give a definitive figure because there are so many variables which affect outcomes. The electrologist’s skill in working with these variables will determine the percentage of permanency for each individual treatment. Don’t get discourages, just keep attending your appointments regularly. This will ensure you get the most positive results.


Do you also remove hair from the genital zone before the sex reassignment surgery?

Yes we do, we strongly advise electrolysis before the operation because laser is not always permanent and after the operation you won’t get a second change to remove the hair.

Is electrolysis hair removal painful?

The short answer almost no electrologist dears to give you to give you is: yes it is. Some people can bear it, other’s barely.

The longer version: Everyone has their own tolerance to pain. Descriptions of the discomfort vary from “no worse than a mosquito bite,” to “like having a rubber band snapped against my bare skin hard.” Electrolysis can give a stinging and pricking sensation, and each hair has to go through it. The degree of also relative to the area of treatment. Certain spots, such as the upper lip, are known to be more sensitive than spots like the brows.

More information about pain during electrolysis hair removal

Can shave my hair in between electrolysis hair removal sessions?

Yes, one of the common misconceptions about electrolysis is that you have to let the hair grow in-between sessions.  In actual fact, you can treat the hair as you would do usually, even shaving if on the legs or face.  The hair doesn’t have to be any longer than 1-2 mm for electrolysis to be effective. It is even contra-productive because it makes insertions more difficult. It is important you stop shaving 3 days prior to your electrolysis session.

We should emphasize that in contrast to popular believe shaving of the hair will not thicken it, coarsen it or make it grow more rapidly.


How many hours of electrolysis will I need to clear an area?

This is probably the most frequently asked question, and one we can unfortunately not answer with certainty. There are many factors influencing the amount of sessions needed to clear an area, some of which are still unknown to us. To fully clear your facial hair permanently it can take anything from 8 months up to 2 years in some cases. The number of sessions needed varies from 8 to 15 sessions. The number of hours needed varies from 90 to 300 hours.

Should I be on hormones to start electrolysis?

No. Beard growth is driven by a genetic response of the hair follicles to the hormone called ‘androgen’. This response of the hair follicles is genetic, and sadly we cannot yet change the genetics of your hair. From our experience, unless the masculinization process is put to a halt early in puberty, or the individual naturally has sparse beard growth, extensive facial electrolysis is usually necessary for trans women.

Is electrolysis better than laser hair removal?

Laser is less effective than electrolysis because it targets the pigment of the hair that is only found in the Bulb, not the Bulge where the growth cells are. The damage to the hair is considerable enough that it will slow the growth cycle for a couple of months before reappearing.The other advantage of electrolysis is that it is suitable for pretty much all skin tones and hair colours, unlike laser hair removal.

Laser first? The simple rule is: Do laser first if you have dark hair and light skin. If you have dark skin or light hair, skip laser and do electrolysis from the start.

More info on the differnce between laser and electrolysis hair removal.


Is electrolysis hair removal really permanent?

Electrolysis is the only permanent hair removal method which is recognised and approved as such by the FDA (The US Food and Drug Administration). The FDA is an agency of the US government that regulates a broad range of consumer products, services and drugs in order to ensure not only the efficacy of the product, but also the safety of the consumer. The FDA is an agency of the US government that regulates a broad range of consumer products, services and drugs in order to ensure not only the efficacy of the product, but also the safety of the consumer.This means that the FDA have carefully examined the electrolysis technique and have expressed that it’s safe and that it permanently removes hair.

Can I choose my electrologist?

For administrative reasons we do not give each patient the same electrologist each visit, although we try to meet the patient’s preference. The rotating of electrologists discourages personal dependence and more easily facilitates the exchange of skills, which maintains high standards.

Can I do Electrolysis at your clinic while recovering form the surgery?

Yes you can. We suggest you book 1 day of electrolysis a few days after the surgery through our website:

If you have a choice though it is probably a more comfortable option to book the electrolysis a few days before your surgery.

I have some discoloration on my face after electrolysis, is this normal? Will it go away?

Hyperpigmentation is possible after electrolysis. The inflammation caused by the electrolysis destruction can sometimes stimulate melanocytes (pigment cells in the skin) to produce pigment.

This reaction is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. When this happens in electrology, tiny dark patches or dots appear 2 to 6 weeks after treatment where each hair was epilated. These marks may persist for 4 to 6 months, but disappear as the skin recuperates. This reaction can develop on any patient. However, this reaction is most common in darker-skinned patients. It rarely occurs in lighter-skinned patients. Sunlight seems to encourage this reaction. Therefore we advise our patients to protect against the sun for 2 to 3 weeks after treatment.

In very rare instances, inflammation from electrolysis arrests the pigment production of the pigment cells and causes white spots, or hypo-pigmentation. In all such cases the melanocytes recuperate and the skin fully returns to normal; usually within several months.

I suffer from psoriasis, can I still get electrolysis?

On the active psoriasis zone electrolysis is contra-indicated.

I suffer from PCOS, can I still get electrolysis?

It is not a contra-indication, but in some people it doesn’t really help because too much new hair is recruited. In some individuals the problem is less pronounced than in others.

The average person has 1,000 follicles per square inch. However, that does not mean one grows 1,000 hairs. Where a man may have 100, to 500 visible hairs in a square inch, a woman may have 0 to 25. You must understand that hormonal problems (like PCOS) work in such a way that new follicles are recruited to start growing hair, where they never grew before. The severity of the problem defines how long it takes for new follicles to be recruited, and how many at a time are stimulated in that term. So, until one arrests the problem that is causing the new hair recruitment, one will continuously gain new hairs, and one may may have to come back forever.

You still have another question? Feel free to ask! We will answer your question and if generally applicable add it to the FAQ of this page.

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