What is Surgical Electrolysis?

Stephanie Binikos's picture

Edinburgh electrolysis expert Stephanie explains surgical electrolysis & why it is the best solution for removing Skin Tags, Milia & skin blemishes. 

Surgical Electrolysis, also known as Advanced Cosmetic Procedures (ACP), is an extremely effective and safe procedure for the removal of many benign fibrous and vascular skin blemishes. Surgical Electrolysis uses short wave diathermy to cauterize certain lesions off the skin and in some cases a technique called blend is used to treat vascular blemishes. 
I love this treatment because what many may class as a small imperfection can change another persons life completely if removed forever. I find it extremely rewarding and satisfying to be a part of a patients transformation in self-confidence with NO downtime, NO scars and NO surgery.

Proven safety track record

Electrolysis has been around for nearly 140 years and was first developed in 1875 in America by Charles Michel to treat ingrowing eyelashes. In 1910 Plym Hayes MD Professor of Chemistry and Toxicology at Chicago College of Pharmacy established advanced protocols for treating facial blemishes and removing superfluous hair. Things further improved in 1924 when Henri Border invented the short wave diathermy method.
More recently the blend method has been developed to treat facial thread veins and thread veins on the legs. This is a treatment that combines short wave diathermy and galvanic current, and as lower settings are used there is minimal risk of skin damage and crusting and only mild discomfort.
There are 21 distinctive types of lesions that can be safely and effectively treated with surgical electrolysis (click here to see the full list), however I am going to discuss the two most common I see everyday.

Skin tags

Skin Tag imageSkin tags are a common skin condition found on perfectly healthy people and are not directly associated with any other major medical conditions. Often they are shaped as a lollipop or mushroom and vary in size - from a tiny speck to that of a large pea. Derived from skin cells and composed of loose fibrous tissue they are a soft small piece of hanging skin. Their hyper-pigmented colour makes them more obvious and although they are harmless they can be irritating and cosmetically unattractive, which is why we see so many at our clinic. 
Whilst anyone can get skin tags, they are most common in older people, overweight people, pregnant mums and individuals with diabetes. They can appear anywhere on the body, but are most frequently found on the neck where friction from necklaces, collars and scarves are to blame or under the arms where friction the seams of clothes are the initiating factor. They become particularly irritating when they grow in sensitive areas such as under the breasts or near the groin, the genitalia and around the eye.
All are easily and permanently removed with surgical electrolysis in a procedure than may take just minutes, with minimum discomfort for most areas, and provides immediate results. 


Milia on the eye lidsMilia usually affects everyone at some point in their life.  They are formed when keratin is trapped beneath the outer layer of the skin forming a tiny cyst.  Milia often develop when the ducts leading to the skin surface become clogged. A common cause being skin creams which are too rich and prevent the skin ‘breathing’ normally. We see a lot more cases following the summer holidays when cheap rich sun creams have been used for sun protection. I also see them with dehydrated skin where dry flakes of skin can block the pores.
Surgical electrolysis treatment of milia uses the energy created to desiccate the hard fatty tissue, instantly breaking it down and allowing it to disperse into the body.  This a far superior method to milia removal than using a microlance or sharp implement of some kind to remove the hard keratin, which can result in scarring.
When correctly performed a ‘popping’ sensation is often experienced as the needle pierces the keratinised centre of the milia.  Within 48 hours a tiny crust may form which must not be removed but left to drop off.  For completely successful milia removal large milia may require a second treatment 3-4 weeks later, but usually nothing visible happens other than the blemish disappears.

Skin blemishes bothering you?

If you find an imperfection on your skin that is bothering you then pop in for a consultation where I can thoroughly assess and diagnose the lesion. If we are happy to go ahead then a patch test will be carried out and you will be asked to return to the clinic seven days later for full treatment. Following your treatment you will be given a review appointment at four weeks where further treatment may or may not be required. 
If I am not happy with the lesion I will ask that you visit your GP first and have him examine it further to make sure that it is benign before we go further.
Medical Aesthetician

21 distinctive types of lesions

Full list of skin lesions that can be treated by surgical electrolysis

  • Telangectasia (thread veins)
  • Cherry angiomas (blood spots)
  • Spider naevus 
  • Milia 
  • Skin tags
  • Age spots 
  • Common warts 
  • Plane warts 
  • Verrucas 
  • Seborrhoeic keratosis 
  • Sebaceous Cysts  
  • Sebaceous hyperplacia 
  • Syringoma 
  • Xanthelasma 
  • Moles 
  • Dermatosis papulose nigra

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