No cosmetic procedure is 100% effective or side-effect-free. Despite being used for over a century, electrolysis side effects can and do occur. We’re always honest with our clients about the downsides of our treatments. Though we still believe electrolysis is perfectly safe in the vast majority of cases, it’s important to understand the potential risks and side effects of electrolysis.

Indeed, electrolysis is one of the most common and popular permanent hair removal methods. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, undergo the procedure annually. Though most people experience only the lasting and permanent benefits for which electrolysis is renowned, a few do experience some negative electrolysis side effects.

Most side effects are temporary and minor. However, in rare cases, they can be moderate to severe.

Below we’ll explain the most common side effects of electrolysis, as well as delve into the pros and cons of treatment.

Side effects of electrolysis

  1. Redness or swelling

Because electrolysis involves inserting a probe and running heat or electricity through the skin, it does cause some irritation to the surrounding tissue. This is 100% normal. You may notice some minor swelling and redness for around 36 hours after the treatment session. 

The bigger the area treated, the more chance there is that swelling or redness will occur. These signs indicate underlying inflammation. Again – this is expected and merely means the body is healing any remaining damage.

You can use a gentle moisturizer or cool the area with an ice compress to soothe the pain. Otherwise, simply wait for it to fade.

2. Blisters

Blisters – small fluid-filled bumps – can occur in the skin for 24 to 48 hours after treatment. Like redness or swelling, they’re due to the minor damage caused by the treatment. Blisters can be confused with acne, although they’re quite different. 

Don’t scratch or scrub your face until the blisters subside to avoid permanent scarring or lasting problems. Any blisters will fade after a few days – if not, consult a doctor.

3. Skin damage

Going to an inexperienced electrolysis technician can cause permanent skin damage. Because electrolysis involves permanently damaging the hair follicle, it can damage other parts of the skin if the probe is placed incorrectly.

Sadly, it’s one of the most common side effects of electrolysis. It’s 100% avoidable, however. By choosing a reputable and experienced electrolysis technician, you can get all the benefits without risking this electrolysis side effect.

Skin damage can heal with time. But sometimes, permanent changes or scarring can occur. Don’t risk it; go with a professional.

4. Acne

Acne is an odd side effect of electrolysis. But it can occur. Electrolysis can be disruptive enough to trigger acne if your skin is prone to episodes. Consider using a mild lotion, cleanser or toner before your session, and maintain the skincare routine afterwards.

After all, you do not want to make the condition worse. Acne breakouts are not permanent and will disappear within 5 to 10 days, depending on your skin type.

We recommend following your usual acne skincare routine. Also, let our skincare experts know about your condition, and we can discuss what hair removal technique is best for you.

5. Burning sensation

A burning sensation or significant pain during or after the procedure is not normal. It’s a sign of an inexperienced technician. Unfortunately, it happens all too often and leads to a negative reputation for the procedure.

While some minor discomfort is expected, in professional hands, we can reduce your pain to a minimum. If you feel any significant discomfort, you should always let your technician know. They can use a numbing cream to help manage any pain. Otherwise, you should speak to a manager or look elsewhere for a certified expert in the treatment.

This is one electrolysis side effect to avoid!

6. Skin discoloration

By irritating the skin, electrolysis can trigger “hyperpigmentation” to occur. In these rare instances, the pigment-producing cells in the skin go into overdrive, leading to patches of dark or brown. This electrolysis side effect is more common in people with sensitive skin. 

While skin discoloration is disconcerting, it won’t have any lasting health effects. And it will gradually fade with time. You can use a skin lightening cream to speed up the process, and scar removal creams are also effective. 

It’s nothing to panic about and can be treated. Just be careful if your skin is particularly sensitive.

7. Ingrown hair formation

The goal of electrolysis is to remove hairs, not promote growth. Nevertheless, if a hair follicle is incorrectly or incompletely damaged, it can lead to ingrown hair. 

Ingrown hairs are known for causing itching and irritation. However, with simple exfoliation, ingrown hair should be easy to remove. It’s a common side effect of electrolysis and can be hard to avoid. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of hairs to remove – some may be incompletely destroyed.

The Pros

  1. It produces permanent lasting results. Electrolysis is by far one of the most effective hair removal treatments. Despite the risk of a few electrolysis side effects, most people enjoy a simple, low-risk procedure with permanent benefits.
  2. It’s suitable for lighter hair and skin types. Laser hair removal works best on darker hairs. With electrolysis, people with red, blonde, or fine hair enjoy the benefits of hair removal. It’s for everyone. 

The Cons

  1. Minor risk of discomfort and side effects. Because it involves heat and current to work, electrolysis side effects do occur. They’re rare when electrolysis is performed by a trained professional. But inexperienced technicians can make lasting mistakes.
  2. Takes a significant length of time. Each session only lasts 15 to 60 minutes. But with more than eight sessions needed, an entire course of electrolysis can last up to a year. 

If you have any questions or concerns about the electrolysis procedure, contact Alite Laser for more information.