Electrolysis is the most invasive of all hair removal procedures and thus complications event though rare can and do occur. The most common complications of electrolysis include:
Swelling: Immediately after the procedure, swelling of the skin is common. This is usually most common on the face and lips. The swelling can persist for 4-7 days but usually resolves.
Pain: The pain is moderate both during and after the procedure. Over the counter pain medications may be adequate to control the pain.
Skin redness: After the procedure, the skin will definitely be red and indurated. This may last for several days. To avoid worsening the redness and swelling, one should keep out of the sun. All fragrant chemicals and lotions should be avoided. A simple moisturizer will suffice
Infection: Occasionally the skin can get infected after the electrolysis. The infection is usually mild in nature and easily treated with a short course of antibiotics
Blisters and scabs: The hair treated areas almost always develop scabs and small blisters. The scabs and blisters are more prominent after 24- 48 hours. One should leave them alone and not pull or scratch them to avoid scarring. Appropriate clothing should be worn hide these temporary skin defects
Ingrown hair: In rare cases, some hairs may regrow after electrolysis and maybe curled and become ingrown
Folliculitis: Frequently the treated area reveals a reddened area over the hair follicle. This is a simple infection of the hair follicle and known as folliculitis. Conservative care is all that is required. No chemicals, medications, ointments or lotions are needed to treat folliculitis. Any simple moisturizing cream will suffice
Dryness: Because electrolysis generates heat, dryness and skin flaking are common after electrolysis. The dryness is similar to a moderate sunburn and can be uncomfortable. Aloe Vera lotion is excellent to soothe the skin
Itching: Sometimes there may be an intense itch around the treated area. This can be relieved with a moisturizer or one may take an over the counter antihistamine drug.
Skin discoloration: Skin discoloration also occurs after electrolysis. This is most common in individuals with fair skin. The discoloration may occur in isolated spots and can be unsightly. Before undertaking any therapy, one should give time to see if the condition will resolve on its own. Others apply chemical peels or bleaching agents. The chemicals are only mildly effective.
Permanent scarring: Because electrolysis generates heat, it can often cause damage to the skin. The excess heat can also lead to scarring of the skin which is permanent. Scars do not show up immediately but may be seen after a period of 3-6 months. Scars are more common when the needle is not placed in the hair follicle or the heat used is too high. Occasionally keloids may occur in dark skinned individuals.
Bruising: Bruising is common when the needle is inserted into a nearby blood vessel instead of the hair follicle. The bruises are most obvious on the face and may take time to resolve.
To avoid worsening of the complications after electrolysis, one should not
- shave the skin
- not rub or scratch the skin
- avoid sun exposure
- avoid cosmetic creams and lotions