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Electrolysis side effects: 5 Myths About Electrolysis Revealed


What Are Potential Side Effects of Electrolysis?

Overall, electrolysis is highly effective. It is also one of the safest procedures you can have. The reason for this is quite simple. Electrolysis, done by a professional, is designed to eliminate hair growth by damaging the hair follicle, eliminating its ability to produce hair. This process is done using very safe, FDA approved methods. You can feel confident that, if you use a well qualified professional, you’ll get the results you want.

What Are Potential Side Effects of Electrolysis?

The side effects of electrolysis tend to be very minimal if any. When you come in for a consultation, you will learn more about what you can expect specifically. In addition, you will learn what types of side effects you can have. In most cases, side effects will include:

  • Slight irritation of the skin in the treatment area.
  • Minimal pain and discomfort in the treatment area.
  • Redness in the treated area.

Most people say this method creates a small sting when applied to the skin, much like a snap of a rubber band against the skin. In most situations, individuals will have no need for any medication to treat their side effects. Nevertheless, you should tell your technician about your health, any risks you may have, and any other factors that could impact your outcome.

Treatment for Side Effects

When you speak to your technician about your procedure, be sure to ask questions about how to properly treat any side effect you may have. In some cases, your doctor may provide you with a numbing treatment that can help minimize any feeling you have in the treatment area. You may also want to choose an over the counter numbing product.

If you have discomfort from the procedure, taking an over the counter pain medication such as an NSAID may be helpful. Follow your doctor’s recommendations for this.

Finally, some individuals develop a significant amount of anxiety from the procedure, often times because they are worried about how it will feel. Talk to your doctor about medications to reduce your anxiety especially if you tend to be nervous or anxious often.
For many people, the side effects of electrolysis are minimal and they long term benefits it offers are outstanding. Take a few minutes to talk to our experienced technicians to learn more about the process and what you can expect from this type of treatment from our Manhattan providers. Call at 646-205-8741 to schedule a consult.

Electrolysis: Definition & Treatment


What is electrolysis?

Electrolysis is a hair removal treatment. A trained electrologist inserts a thin wire into the hair follicle under the surface of the skin. An electric current moves down the wire to the bottom of the follicle, destroying the hair root. The follicle damage prevents hair from growing and causes the existing hair to fall out.

Electrolysis has been around for more than 100 years. It was first invented to remove irritating ingrown eyelash hairs. Electrolysis is the only FDA-approved method for permanent hair removal.

Who needs electrolysis?

Hair growth is normal and often desirable. But sometimes people want electrolysis because they:

  • Are unhappy about where hair grows (for example, between the eyebrows, on the upper lip or on the breasts).
  • Have hirsutism, which is excessive hair growth.
  • Are gender transitioning.

What parts of the body can electrolysis treat?

Electrolysis can treat most areas of the body, including the:

  • Back.
  • Bikini line, thighs and lower legs.
  • Breasts and abdomen.
  • Face, including lip, chin and eyebrows.
  • Fingers and toes.
  • Underarms.

What causes unwanted hair growth?

Causes of extra hair growth include:

  • Heredity issues (genetics can influence whether you have a lot of body hair or not).
  • Hormone levels, such as high levels of androgens (male hormones).
  • Certain drugs, such as some steroids.
  • Certain illnesses, such as polycystic ovary syndrome.

Procedure Details

What device is used during electrolysis?

Medical electrolysis devices are called epilators. They destroy the growth center of the hair using an electric current.

What happens during electrolysis?

Electrologists use a thin needle, which is often even finer than the hair. They insert the needle into the opening of the hair follicle. A small electrical current destroys the hair growth cells. The skin where the needle enters may feel temporarily hot or like a pinch.

How many electrolysis treatments will I need?

You will need several appointments. The number of sessions needed to achieve permanent hair removal differs from person to person. Typically, you need an appointment every week or every other week. The appointments can last for up to a year and a half.

Treatment length depends on several factors, including the body area and the type of hair growing there. If you’re treating a larger area, or an area with coarse hair, you’ll need more treatments.

Why do I need so many electrolysis treatments?

Hairs have different growth cycles. Your hair follicle produces hair and discards it through shedding. This hair production cycle is a process of growth, rest and replacement. Individual hairs are in different phases of this cycle. More than one treatment catches the hairs at the right point in the cycle to destroy them.

How long does electrolysis treatment last?

An electrolysis treatment lasts anywhere between 15 minutes and one hour.

What do I need to know after the procedure?

For the first 24 hours after your treatment, try to avoid activities that may irritate the hair follicles, including:

  • Anything that causes sweating.
  • Tanning.
  • Staying out in the sun.
  • Applying makeup.

Risks / Benefits

What is the advantage of electrolysis?

Many people experience permanent hair removal after finishing electrolysis treatments. Also, electrolysis works with the widest range of skin and hair types. It’s good for sensitive areas of the body, like the face or bikini line. The main disadvantage to electrolysis is the length of time needed to achieve permanent hair removal.

Are there any risks or complications of electrolysis?

Electrolysis is very safe. Very slight risks of infection (from an unsterile needle) or scarring exist if the electrolysis is not done correctly. These risks are very low if you choose a certified, professional electrolysis practice.

You may have a slight reddening of the skin during or right after treatment. It’s very short-lived. People with darker skin may have temporary dark spots on their skin. The spots fade over time, so don’t use bleaching cream on them.

Will electrolysis leave a scar?

Scarring is rare after electrolysis treatments.

Is electrolysis painful?

Electrolysis doesn’t typically cause too much discomfort. You may feel a slight tingling. Talk to your electrologist about a topical anesthetic (numbing cream) if necessary.

Recovery and Outlook

What is the recovery time after electrolysis?

You can resume your normal activities immediately after treatment.

Is electrolysis permanent?

Yes, electrolysis safely and permanently removes hair from all skin tones. It is the only FDA-approved permanent hair removal treatment. Because electrolysis permanently destroys the growth cells in the hair follicles, the hair will not grow back.

When to Call the Doctor

What should I ask an electrologist before the procedure?

When you meet with the electrologist, ask:

  • How will the procedure feel?
  • How long is each session?
  • How many visits do you think I’ll need?
  • How much will this treatment cost?
  • Will insurance cover electrolysis treatment?
  • How long have you been practicing electrolysis?
  • How many people have you treated?

Additional Details

What should I look for when choosing an electrologist?

Electrologists are trained professionals who can safely perform electrolysis procedures. When choosing an electrologist, ask about:

  • Qualifications: Many states require licensing or certification for electrologists. Check that the provider’s certificate is up to date and on display. If your state does not regulate electrology, ask if the provider attended an accredited electrology school.
  • Recommendations: Ask friends or family members for recommendations from personal experience. Or ask your healthcare provider for a recommendation.
  • Consultation: Many practices offer a free electrolysis consultation. Ask any questions you have at this first visit so that you feel comfortable with your choice.
  • Cleanliness and hygiene: At your consultation, ask about cleaning and sterilization procedures. See if the practice looks clean and if workers use disposable equipment. Make sure you are comfortable with the electrologist.

How does electrolysis compare to temporary methods of hair removal?

Many people use chemical depilatories, such as liquids or creams, to remove leg hair. The chemicals in these products can irritate your skin. Chemical hair removal can be messy and take a long time. Waxing, another method of hair removal, can be painful and costly. Home waxing kits may be messy and hard to use.

Can I use an at-home electrolysis device?

Electrical electrolysis devices exist on the market, available for home use. But it’s best to go to a trained electrologist for electrolysis. They use high-quality, sterile equipment and can individualize the treatment to best suit your needs.

For people who want to remove body hair, electrolysis can offer a permanent solution. A trained electrologist performs the procedure, which is generally not painful. After several treatment sessions, you’ll likely be hair free. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if electrolysis may be right for you.

Side Effects – Barbara’s Electrology & European Facials

Permanent Hair Removal is the Number One Side Effect of Electrolysis

Other Side Effects from Electrolysis are Temporary

Permanent hair removal is the number one side effect of electrolysis.  Before you get to your “hair free” status you might experience less-desirable side effects. This article will explain the common and uncommon reactions that may occur after an electrolysis treatment.  

Side effects and their severity will depend on four factors.  Those factors include your type of skin, the aggressiveness of your treatments, the techniques and skills of your electrologist, and your compliance in following aftercare recommendations.


The most common side effect you can expect is redness. This reaction is caused by a dilation and congestion of superficial capillaries.  Also known as erythema, redness is short-lived.  The recommended aftercare is to apply a compress of witch hazel for several minutes to several hours after the treatment.


Redness may be accompanied by a histamine response at the site of the follicle.  This reaction may look like a mosquito bite and is a heat induced or physical urticaria, also described as hives, which appears within two to five minutes of treatment.  This reaction usually subsides within hours of the treatment.

The aftercare for a histamine response can be selected from the following:

For extreme reactions and as a preventative measure take an oral antihistamine prior to treatment. Follow manufacturer directions when taking over-the-counter medications.

Apply a topical antihistamine during or immediately after treatment.

For mild reactions apply a compress of witch hazel with small amount of wintergreen alcohol added.

Occasionally, bumps on the skin will last longer than expected. This is not a frequent side effect, nor is it alarming.  Keep skin clean without overusing products and do not pick, scratch or squeeze the bumps.


A day or so after treatment, a scab may form at the treated follicle’s opening.  This is nature’s band-aid and it protects the healing follicle.  It is common for pinpoint scabs to appear on body areas after an electrolysis treatment.   It is less common for them to appear on the face.  

Utilize the following steps if a scab appears:

1.  Keep it clean.  Gently wash with mild soap and water, rinse and pat dry.  Avoid rubbing the areas.

2.  Keep the scab moist.  Triple antibiotic ointments can be used to prevent infection and helps keep the scab moist.

3.  Avoid picking or scratching the area. It may itch, so look for an antibiotic ointment with a topical analgesic.  


Another infrequent side effect of electrolysis is the appearance of a pustule a day or two after treatment.  A pustule is a small, inflamed, blister-like lesion.  If you are prone to developing pustules, apply a warm compress as soon as you get home after a treatment to help prevent their formation.  Salicylic acid may be used sparingly to help dry out a pustule once it appears.  

Most skin damage electrologists see has been caused by digging and picking of the skin prior to electrolysis treatments.   Chin acne will clear up after electrolysis if it was caused by tweezing.  Root sheath remnants inflame the skin, broken hairs become ingrown, and most home tweezing is done with unclean instruments resulting in acne in the area.  Electrolysis/permanent hair removal is the ONLY method to clear this problem.


Scar formation is not a side effect of electrolysis treatments.  A scar is fibrous tissue that replaces normal skin after an injury.  Electrolysis treatments can cause minor lesions which do not result in scars.  Over-treatment and improper aftercare, along with over zealous temporary methods such as tweezing can result in damage to the skin known as pitting, which is often temporary.  Loss of pigment at the site of the follicle may occur with over-treatment on melanin-rich skin. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) may occur on some olive-toned skin types.  PIH usually subsides once the irritation of treatments has been stopped.  Pigmentation spots known as melasma are unrelated to electrolysis treatments but may become more noticeable once excess hair is removed.


  • Contact your electrologist if you have any reaction that concerns you.  Permanent hair removal as an electrolysis side effect outweighs other side effects a million to one.  
  • Communication between you and your electrologist is important in helping you reach your hair removal goal.  It is common for the first treatment to result in the most skin reaction, so talk to your electrologist if this occurs. 
  • Make sure that your electrologist utilizes medical sterilization for instruments and provides you with a new pre-sterilized and disposable electrolysis probe at every appointment.  
  • It is important for you to comply with aftercare procedures to avoid infection. Stop all tweezing and handle your skin carefully.   

Disclaimer:  Please use caution and follow directions when using any over-the-counter product.  Contact your physician for medical advice as this article is not presented as medical advice.

© Barbara Greathouse, CPE   This work may be reproduced as a complete document without alteration as long as credit and link back are provided.

To learn more about your healing skin after electrolysis watch videos by Michael Bono.

Electrolysis Vs Laser Hair Removal

Electrolysis is a USFDA-approved procedure for the removal of unwanted hair. An electric current is used to target and destroy hair follicles to prevent the growth of new hair. In most cases, it is permanent, though results may vary.

How Does Electrolysis Hair Removal Work?

In an electrolysis procedure, a fine, needle-like electrode, much like an epilator, is inserted into every hair is adjustable based on the hair type and the treatment area. Consequently, the existing hair falls and new hair stops growing.

Electrolysis Hair Removal works well for people of any skin and hair type or colour. It is also safe for those with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

Must Read: How To Remove Unwanted Hair Permanently?

What Results Can I Expect From Electrolysis Hair Removal?

Hair growth progressively decreases over a series of sessions, and in many cases, people see that their hair disappears. Electrolysis is a slower method of hair removal, and the time taken to see results will differ from individual to individual.  Results largely depend upon the size of the area treated.

What Body Areas Can Electrolysis Hair Removal Treat?

Electrolysis can treat the skin anywhere on the body, but the most common areas are Upper Lip, Chin, Eyebrows, Ears, Beard, Underarms, Abdomen, Bikini Area, Legs, Chest and Back.

What Are The Benefits Of Electrolysis Hair Removal?

  • Long-lasting results
  • No downtime
  • No use of harsh chemicals

Who is the Right Candidate for Electrolysis Hair Removal?

Anyone who is at least 18 years old, not pregnant or lactating, can go for electrolysis.

How Much Does Electrolysis Hair Removal Cost In India?

The cost of electrolysis hair removal in India ranges from Rs 2,500 to Rs 4,000 per session. It may vary based on the size of the target area, the density of hair growth and the number of sessions required.

The above prices are indicative only. Please visit a reputed clinic to know the exact cost.

Must Read: How Much Does Laser Hair Removal Cost In India?

Pre-preparation & Post Care For Electrolysis Hair Removal

Pre-Electrolysis Preparation

  • The treatment may cause some pain and discomfort. The doctor may give you a topical anaesthetic to help, but it can be applied only to small areas.
  • The regular use of sunscreen also prevents the skin from getting damaged before a treatment.

Post Electrolysis Care

  • After a session, do not scratch the treated area which will help avoid bacterial infections.
  • Apply an antibacterial cream or ointment on the treated area at night.
  • If small scabs form after a session, do not scratch them as that may lead to scarring.
  • Strictly avoid makeup application for at least 24 hours.
  • Pigmentation can be avoided by using a sunscreen or covering the treated area with clothing.

What Are The Side Effects & Risks Involved?

  • Skin damage is one of the primary side effects of Electrolysis.
  • Post-treatment, the appearance of blisters on the treated area is a common occurrence.
  • Electrolysis on the face and bikini area may cause swelling and inflammation, particularly if the treated area is large.

The more severe risks that Electrolysis Hair Removal may pose include –

  • Infection caused by the usage of an unsterile needle during the treatment
  • The formation of scars including keloid scars
  • Discoloration or change in skin colour

What Is Laser Hair Removal?

Watch this video now: