A woman undergoing electrolysis

Electrolysis Side Effects

Electrolysis is a method for permanent hair removal that focuses on destroying the hair follicle at the root to prevent hair from ever growing there again. It works by inserting a small needle or thin metal probe into each individual hair follicle and passing a low-level electrical current through the needle or probe to destroy the follicle. Though it may take several treatment sessions to effectively destroy , hair will be unable to ever grow back there once the follicle is completely gone.

Just like most other methods for hair removal, electrolysis will have side effects. Some side effects are experienced during the session, while others are experienced after the removal is complete. Here are some of the most common side effects. 

Skin Discoloration 

It is possible for the skin to become discolored after undergoing electrolysis, which is usually more noticeable among people with darker skin. This is especially common for people who have sensitive skin. This is also more common among procedures that were not performed correctly. Make sure to always do your research on your electrologist before going in for your first session. 


While the sensation during the procedure is typically described as a pricking or stinging feeling, it is possible for the procedure to be more painful than you expect. This will all depend on your threshold for pain. There are some things you can do to reduce the pain during the procedure, such as have the technician apply a numbing cream. 

Skin Damage

After the treatment is complete, it is possible to experience swelling, redness, dry skin, and even scabs. However, you can usually care for these side effects with simple treatments. Aloe vera gel is good for cooling the treated area if it feels overly warm. However, a scab could be potentially serious if it is not properly treated and cleaned since it could lead to infection.  

Ingrown Hairs

If the hair follicle is damaged rather than completely destroyed, this could lead to an ingrown hair. This is a problem that can typically be solved by exfoliating both before and after the procedure.


If the needle has been inserted incorrectly or too deeply into your skin, this could lead to bruising. This should only be minimal, except in unsual cases. 

Preventing Side Effects

Almost all of these side effects can be minimized or prevented if you choose a professional electrologist who knows what they are doing. However, if you have a certain skin condition or very coarse hair, this could lead to worsened side effects.

People who have pacemakers may be at increased risk for other complications while undergoing electrolysis, so make sure to to check with your electrologist before you begin the procedure. Additionally, women who are pregnant should avoid electrolysis as well, as there is currently no way to measure the potential risk this procedure could have on your baby.

Last Updated: January 04, 2016