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Voltaic Arc in Aesthetics

As we have seen, medium and high frequency AC currents have been in use since the 1930s.  This led to the development of monopolar and bipolar radio frequency currents with diverse applications in aesthetics.

In this page we will focus our attention on two particular methods used in aesthetics:

  1. Electrofulguration (the same principle used in elctrocoagulation for medical use) and
  2. Electrodessication

electrodesiccation-electrofulguration

In the above picture we can clearly see the difference between Electrodessication on the left and Electrofulguration on the right. There are many devices on the marketplace which operate in one or both modes. The effects of electrofulguration are very superficial compared with the carbonisation effects of electrodessication (also known as dehydration, ablation or sublimation).

Electrodessication

In electrodessication, the electrode is incontact with the skin.

Effects produced by electrodessiccation are seen in the picture (the dehydration effects spread much deeper than Electrofulguration). For this reason electrofulguration is used for superficial skin treatments in aesthetics as it provides a greater degree of accuracy than electrodessication.
The difference in equipment operation between electrofulguration and electrodessication mode is very well-known as they have been used for many years in this context. So, what is the difference in configuration of these devices which allows either electrofulfuration or electrdessication?

The answer is: operating frequency, voltage and the power levels are usually the same or similar in both configurations. However, the main difference between the two types of configurations is the way that current flows through the body. Also the difference stands on  the fact that in electrodessication the electrode is either in direct contact with the skin or even inserted inside the skin (for permanent epilation).

Permanent epilation by using electrodessication with a return pad

Permanent epilation by using electrodessication with a return pad

 

Electrofulguration configuration.

In Fulguration Configuration, the electrode does not touch the skin or tissue and once the spark occurs the current flows from the tip of the electrode down to earth following the path of least resistance.

In Fulguration Configuration, the electrode does not touch the skin or tissue and once the spark occurs the current flows from the tip of the electrode down to earth following the path of least resistance.

When the equipment is set up in electrofulguration mode the electricity flows from the tip of the electrode through the body (which at medium/high frequency reacts as a faraday cage) down to earth, and a return pad is not usually needed. Because the current flows superficially to earth, the result is a very superficial carbonisation of the superficial part of the skin (epidermis), lesion or benign mole.

Electrofulguration to stop minor bleeding, used in medicine is usually referred to as electrocoagulation.

Electrofulguration to stop minor bleeding, used in medicine is usually referred to as electrocoagulation.

Due to this superficial carbonisation effects and precision, electrofulguration has been also used for many years in order to stop minor bleeding in medical applications, during surgery.

 

 

Electrodessication configuration.

In Electrodessication configuration a return pad is applied to close the current flow back to the equipment as shown in the figure.

In Electrodessication configuration a return pad is applied to close the current flow back to the equipment as shown in the figure.

 

In Electrodessication a return pad is used in order to close the current flow back into the equipment. In this case the current flows from the needle/electrode, through the body, into the return pad in a loop fashion (as seen above). As a result of this electric current closed path the dehydration effects are far more effective and the ablation effects spread much deeper into the skin than the electrofulguration mode (in which the current simply flows to earth). Because the dehydration effects of electrodessication penetrate deeper into the skin, in aesthetics electrodessication configurations are mainly used for red vein coagulation/removal and permanent epilation. This is because when the retun pad is in use, the current flows deeper inside the dermis and this is the configuration normally used for the cauterization of small thread veins or for permanent epilation (permanent hair removal).
So to recap, when the equipment is required to function in electrofulguration mode the return pad is not needed, whereas it is used in Electrodessication.

Because of its higher degree of precision in tissue carbonisation, electrofulguration is used in aesthetics for:

  • Benign moles and benign skin lesions removal in general.
  • Tattoo removal.
  • Permanent Makeup removal.
  • rownspots removal.
  • Skin tightening …,and more besides.

The uses Uses of ElectroDesication (When the Equipment configured with a return pad) are usually:

  • Permanent epilation.
  • Red vein coagulation for aesthetic reasons.
  • Benign skin lesions removal in General.