Epilation refers to the removal of hair by the roots. Eyelashes play a vital role in protecting the eye against small particles. Sometimes, the eyelash may grow towards the eyeball, a condition referred to as trichiasis. The misdirected eyelids usually irritate and give a false feeling of an object in the eye.

Misdirection of eyelashes can be a result of eye trauma, aging, entropion, and psoriasis, among other factors.

Also Known As

  • Depilation
  • Plucking


Preparation & Expectation Before Surgery

Before conducting the procedure, the doctor may have a brief session with the patient to explain what the process entails. Through this session, the doctor will need to know any medical conditions or reactions from the patient. 

The doctor may instruct the patient to stop some medication a few days before the procedure. The epilation process happens as an outpatient procedure. Therefore, patients may go home on the same day. Having a responsible person to assist the patient to get home may be necessary.

Types, Purpose & Procedure

Epilation temporarily removes lashes through the use of forceps (mechanical epilation). Besides offering a temporary solution, mechanical epilation is time-consuming and could be painful. For permanent removal of eyelashes, cryotherapy and electrolysis are the well-known techniques. 

Others are radiofrequency and laser ablation. Cryotherapy uses freezing to destroy cells, whereas electrolysis uses current. Although effective, cryotherapy is known to cause damage to surrounding tissues.

Three approaches are available for cryotherapy. The first is known as galvanic electrolysis. For this type of procedure, electric current reacts with a saline solution to form sodium hydroxide, which consequently destroys the hair cells.

The second approach, referred to as thermolysis, destroys hair follicles with heat. 

Blend electrolysis is the third approach. It achieves follicle destruction by combining chemical and thermal action. As a result, it gives the best outcomes compared to the other methods.

Trichiasis does not resolve on its own. Therefore, frequent brushing of eyelids towards the eyeball can lead to the development of ulcers in the cornea alongside other disorders. The conditions may eventually threaten vision, so treatment is essential.

One will need to remain still throughout the procedure since the eye is a sensitive organ. Slight movements could result in injuries. The steps involved in epilation are as follows:

  • The doctor places the patient in a comfortable position in an area with minimal distractions and enough lighting
  • S/he then cleans the eyelid using a clean material
  • The patient receives drops of local anesthesia on the eye for numbing
  • The doctor identifies the lashes that require epilating
  • S/he holds the misdirected eyelash close to its root then gently plucks it out using forceps
  • The patient will direct their eye upwards for plucking on the lower eyelid and downwards for the upper eyelid.
  • In the case of electrolysis, the doctor passes current through a fine needle to the roots of the ingrown eyelash. After the lashes become weak, s/he then uses forceps to remove the lash. The lashes are removed one at a time.
  • Cryotherapy uses a cooled needle. The ophthalmologist will direct cryogen from the eye's outer surface to the hair's root through it. The cold temperatures help to destroy the eyelashes.


Risks, Side Effects & Complications

All forms of epilation may carry the risk of infections and scarring. Swelling and redness typically result in permanent removals, since the procedures interact with blood vessels in the eye. Bleeding may also occur in some cases.

Some of the side effects one is likely to experience include:

  • Pain
  • Discomfort
  • Irritation from the numbing agent or a reaction with the electrode
  • Light sensitivity


Poor quality equipment could lead to broken eyelashes that may cause further damage. Repeated removal of eyelashes using permanent techniques could also result in loss of eyelashes or depigmentation.

Aftercare, Recovery & Outcome

To facilitate healing and minimize the side effects that follow epilation, one can implement the following home care routines:

  • Taking over the counter pain relievers
  • Avoiding strenuous physical activities
  • Applying prescribed ointments to prevent infections
  • Use of eye drops to ease irritation and redness
  • Using cold compresses to minimize swelling


The healing period after lash removal is dependent on the technique and severity of risks and complications. However, in most instances, it takes a few weeks, and one can resume daily activities almost immediately.

Simple epilation can produce satisfactory results but only for a short while. Permanent removal methods are also effective, but occasionally, patients experience a recurrence.