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Everything you need to know about advanced electrolysis

From spider veins to skin tags, electrolysis is not just a permanent hair removal treatment. An expert explains all

It’s an old school device that’s pretty low-tech compared to the latest devices on the market. However, according to Aesthetician and Ace Skin Health Clinic Founder, Corina Mihalache, “every time I get excited about a new device, I find that not long after I return to advanced electrolysis as it is safe, suitable for all skin types and involves minimal downtime and discomfort.”

Electrolysis vs advanced electrolysis

Electrolysis is a cosmetic treatment in which a sterile disposable electrode (needle) is used to deliver energy to treat specific areas. “Electrolysis as a hair removal method involves inserting a needle into the hair follicle and passing an electric current through said needle, which destroys the follicle and the small capillaries that supply the root with blood, thus preventing further hair growth,” explains Mihalache.

The very first electrolysis treatment was carried out in 1875 by an ophthalmologist who wanted to find an effective method to treat ingrown eyelashes. Fast forward to the 80s and the treatment gained popularity for its ability to remove hair permanently, which the FDA further confirmed in 2007 when it sent out a bulletin stating that, “only electrologists are allowed to claim permanent hair removal in their advertising.” This is most likely due to the increasing realisation that laser hair removal, though marketed as a permanent solution, was anything but.

For some people, especially those with excess androgens, laser hair removal can trigger paradoxical hypertrichosis–where follicles growing fine, undetectable vellus hair switch to producing dark, thick terminal hairs instead. But electrolysis doesn’t just remove hair, it can also be used to treat other ‘embarrassing’ and inconvenient conditions. Cue advanced electrolysis.
“Electrolysis is the common name for hair removal treatments using an electrolysis device, while advanced electrolysis comes from the term ‘advanced blemish removal treatments’ using a form of electrolysis called diathermy,” explains Mihalache. This form of electrolysis uses an alternating current of electricity that produces heat to damage the cells it’s targeting.

We asked Mihalache to talk us through some of the most common conditions that can be effectively treated with advanced electrolysis…

Red facial veins 

“These permanent capillaries are visible under the epidermis and usually appear on more exposed areas of the skin such as the nose, cheeks and chin. There is a genetic factor associated with red veins; those with fair skin have a predisposition to this issue. There are many possible causes of red facial veins including acne, rosacea, ageing, allergies, exfoliation with harsh products and trauma, as well as certain medical conditions such as circulatory disorders, diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory conditions, and hormonal imbalances. Some triggers can worsen this condition, including emotional stress and anxiety, spicy foods and alcohol, and habitually wearing heavy glasses.

"When treating this condition with advanced electrolysis, I choose a sterile needle (electrode) that corresponds to the diameter of the vessel, and tap vertically along each vessel on the skin, leaving a 2mm space between taps and increasing the distance between taps if the patient is very sensitive or the vessels are very close together. Anywhere from one to six treatments will achieve the desired results.”

Spider naevi 

“Another form of telangiectasia which, as the name suggests, looks like a spider. Most causes of spider naevi are a direct result of external trauma to the skin, excessive sun exposure, changes in hormone levels and abrupt climate changes. The method to treat spider veins is similar to that used for red facial veins, and again you can see results after one treatment but to get the desired outcome you may need up to six treatments.”

Cherry angiomas 

“Also known as Campbell de Morgan spots or blood spots, these are benign vascular blemishes comprising of concentrations of blood overlaid with a translucent skin layer. Blood spots typically occur in middle-aged and elderly patients, and commonly present on the trunk of the body but they can present on the face and lips as well. They have a shiny appearance and can vary in size and colour from bright red to purple. They are often thought to be genetic, however, a wide range of associated causes are the same as facial red veins.
"For small blood spots and those located on the face or neck, the tapping method is best–tapping the skin with the needle tip, using a low current without puncturing it. The result is immediately visible as the blood cauterises.
"For larger blood spots on the body, I like to use a non-insulated needle, placing it at the edge of the blemish and rolling and prodding inward. The blemish will turn grey as the blood collects in the centre and dries. You can expect a scab to form which will fall off as the skin underneath heals.”

Skin tags 

“Benign and harmless growths of epithelial tissue, skin tags vary in size, shape and attachment. They occur mainly in areas that are prone to friction, e.g. in skin folds, but also in places where clothing rubs, such as bra straps, underwired bras and shirt collars.
"Skin tags do not pose any direct risk and are not contagious. Recent studies have shown that some subtypes of the human papillomavirus (HPV) are responsible for the development of some types of skin tags. There is also a link between weight gain and susceptibility to the development of skin tags. As fatty tissue increases, skin folds become exaggerated, and skin tags can develop with the increase in heat, sweat, friction and irritation in certain areas.
"The techniques I use depend on the size of the skin tag, its area and the condition of the skin where it is located. For small skin tags or those that are in visible areas or on sensitive skin, I use a sterile needle with low current to remove the ‘’jacket’’ and then cauterise the moisture remaining in the tag. The result is immediately visible on small tags, while larger tags darken, shrink and recede after healing.

"For larger skin tags on body areas, depending on the patient's sensitivity, I use a method of inserting the needle into the bundle and desiccating the tag of moisture–it will slough off once the skin is fully healed. When there is a risk of clothes rubbing on the area such as under the bra or waistband, I remove the tag through the stalk, ensuring cauterisation of the blood vessel before applying a dressing. The results are instant.”


“A white lipid epithelium cyst containing keratin that becomes trapped beneath the epidermis, milia are formed from undeveloped sebaceous glands or sweat glands and become visible as they migrate up into the epidermis. It tends to occur in people with dry skin around the eye area or cheekbones.

"There is a belief that there is a correlation between milia and diets with high levels of cholesterol content. It is also linked with the use of products that are too rich, strong, abrasive or unsuitable for their particular skin type.
"The technique I use is safe and effective: a high-frequency current desiccates the fatty keratinised tissue of the milia, causing it to break down and disperse. Electrolysis diathermy is the most effective treatment for milia and causes minimal skin damage, with a lower risk of scarring often associated with alternative treatments such as manual piercing of the skin.”

Seborrhoeic keratosis 

“This condition is a benign, asymptomatic, non-viral proliferation of epidermal cells primarily caused by ageing. They can look a little like moles and are very common in those of a mature age. SBK is not infectious or contagious and usually occurs on the back, but it can also appear on the face.

"It is important to remove the first blemish that appear, as removing the 'mother' of seborrheic keratosis can lead to refraction of the other lesions. Mature SBKs have a strong fibrous central attachment that need to be sliced and lifted with the needle tip from the edges towards the centre to remove them completely from the skin.

"For patients with sensitive skin or blemishes on the face, I apply witch hazel to the blemish and tap the surface of the blemish to dry it out. A scab forms and falls off once the skin underneath has healed. This takes several treatments, but it is less likely to leave a footprint on the skin.”

Dermatosis papulosa nigra 

“Another common disorder similar to seborrhoeic keratosis which begins to develop in adolescence and increases with age. Non-contagious, asymptomatic and consisting of one or more small, smooth, dome-shaped, firm, brown to black bumps–especially on the face, neck and upper body–it is generally recognised that the occurrence of DPN is genetically determined: they are very common in people with African heritage, but also in people of Asian and Polynesian ancestry.

"While some people find them attractive, others want to have them removed. The old-classic removal methods are similar to SBK removal (slice it off the skin), which can be quite harsh and increases the risk of creating a depth into the skin and causing hyperpigmentation.

"My removal method is slower but safer–it consists of tapping in a grid pattern on the surface of the blemish without piercing it, whereby the current emitted by the needle tip dries out the blemish, forming a small scab. The scab falls off, leaving the skin underneath clear and smooth. Several treatments may be required, and preparing the skin before and between treatments is a must. This includes a skincare programme with active ingredients that suppress and regulate melanin production, such as tranexamic acid, kojic acid, arbutin, hydroquinone and, of course, regular use of a sunscreen with SPF50.”


“Warts are very common small, rough, viral growths on the skin, and are usually transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact or indirectly through shared contact with contaminated surfaces (swimming pools, changing rooms). Cutaneous warts are caused by an infection of the keratinocytes with the human papillomavirus (HPV).

"Topical treatments are available but they are slow acting, require frequent application and may not be successful–unlike electrolysis diathermy which has a high success rate, making it an extremely effective treatment option.

"My treatment method depends on the type of wart and its location. As a rule, the surface is cauterised and several punctures into the wart with a strong current are necessary to remove it. The treatment is unpleasant but very effective. More than one treatment may be required, and aftercare is important to avoid scarring and cross-contamination.

"As warts are caused by a virus, recurring or new warts can appear within a year of all forms of treatment.”


“Most people have moles and generally, they are benign. This form of pigmented naevi are commonly found on the face and body, vary in size and colour, and tend to appear in the first few decades of life.

"In general I avoid treating moles, however this depends on their 'nuisance factor' and the physical and cosmetic distress they can cause. I also recommend being examined by a dermatologist or specialist GP before undergoing the procedure.

"I use firm tapping around the perimeter and gentle tapping on the surface. Moles require a higher current, and I review and repeat the treatment after six weeks to reduce the risk of scar formation.”

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