Voltaic Arc in Aesthetics, Electrofulguration and Electrodessication

The difference between Electroctrodessication and Electrofulguration

“Plasma” or “Fibroblast” is also the same as electrofulguration, something which has been very well known in medicine for a long time. In this section, we will explore and explain the difference between the two so that you can even have a better context of what plasma actually is for in aesthetic applications.

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:

  • → Electrofulguration (the same principle used in electro-coagulation for medical use) and
  • → Electrodessication

This will provide you with a better context for understanding what “fibroblast ” is in reality.

In the above picture, we can clearly see the difference between Electrodesiccation 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 carbonization effects of electrodesiccation (also known as dehydration, ablation or sublimation). Electrofulguration occurs when the electrical arc takes place between the tit of the device and the skin. Electrodesiccation occurs when the tip of the device touches the skin and the electrical energy is applied onto the skin by the tip of the device itself.

Effects produced by electrodesiccation are seen in the right hand side picture, the dehydration effects spread much deeper than Electrofulguration. For this reason electrofulguration (Plasma or Fibroblast) is used for superficial skin treatments in aesthetics as it provides a greater degree of accuracy than electrodesiccation. The difference in equipment operation between electrofulguration and electrodesiccation mode is very well-known as they have been used for many years for dermatological applications.

In electrodessication, the electrode is incontact with the skin.

So, what is the difference in the configuration of these devices which allows either electrofulguration or electrodesiccation?

The answer is: the operating frequency and the power levels are usually the same or similar in both configurations. In Electrofulguration the voltage level is usually higher than when the equipment is set at Electrodessication mode. Also, the other 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 electrodesiccation the electrode is either in direct contact with the skin or even inserted inside the skin (for permanent epilation).

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

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 carbonization of the superficial part of the skin (epidermis), lesion or benign mole.

Due to this superficial carbonization 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.

Due to this superficial carbonization effects and precision, electrofulguration has been also used for many years in order to stop minor bleeding in medical applications, during surgery.In Electrodesiccation 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 right hand).

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 electrodesiccation penetrate deeper into the skin, in aesthetics electrodesiccation configurations are mainly used for red vein coagulation/removal and permanent epilation. This is because when the return 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 and the voltage of the tip of the device is increased in order for the spark to be generated.

On the other hand in Electrodesiccation the voltage of the tip of the device is decreased and the return pad applied on the patient (subject).

Because of its higher degree of precision in tissue carbonisation, electrofulguration (plasma or Fibroblast) is used in aesthetics for:

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

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

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

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