Beauty Clinic: What to do about post-electrolysis scarring

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Q. A beauty therapist recommended and then carried out electrolysis treatment to remove some hairs around my mouth. As a result I am left with small holes, which are quite visible. She told me they would heal and return to normal but after a year they are still quite obvious. Is there anything that could help? A. That is distressing and we sympathise. According to consultant dermatologist Dr. Nick Lowe of The Cranley Clinic (cranleyclinic.com) in London, ‘this is a big problem with electrolysis. We [dermatologists] often see tiny little punched out scars, medically called pinhead atrophic scars, which may occur early on or sometimes years later. Although they are small, they can be quite deep.’

The reason, he explains is due to micro inflammation from the needle, which causes collagen damage and in some cases pigmentation problems. In coloured skins, it can cause hypopigmentation, ie lack of pigmentation.

Dr Lowe recommends consulting a dermatologist or a GP with a special interest in dermatology. For patients attending The Cranley Clinic, he has found that Fraxel laser treatment gives the best success for light olive to paler skins for this type of scarring as it tightens the skin round the scars, which shrinks the little scars. For darker skins, he would use Fractional Radio Frequency. Between two and five sessions are usually needed, depending on the number and depth of scars. Dr Lowe also prescribes tretinoin, a form of vitamin A, to help maintain the collagen support and keep the scars minimised.

Dr Lowe does not recommend chemical peels or micro needling to correct pinhead scars. ‘You have to be able to go in more deeply and input energy to tighten collagen and stimulate new collagen.’   There is more information on scarring on cranleyclinic.com.

Finally, Dr Lowe recommends being sure of the skills of the therapist who treats you. Ask for credentials and experience. Anyone doing electrolysis should be a member of the British Institute & Association of Electrolysis/electrolysis.co.uk.