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What Causes Electrolysis Scars?

By Elizabeth West
Updated May 21, 2024
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Although most of the time electrolysis does not cause damage to the skin, ingrown hairs and scabbing can contribute to mild electrolysis scars. There are three types of electrolysis that are considered permanent hair removal: galvanic, thermolysis, and blend. When the procedure is done on the face, usually for male-to-female transsexuals who desire beard removal and women with excess facial hair, skin damage can be troubling. Prevention is possible with attention to aftercare.

Galvanic electrolysis uses a tiny needle to apply direct current (DC) to the hair follicle, causing the formation of lye which destroys the tissue. Thermolysis is a technique that agitates the tissue with alternating current (AC) to destroy it. The blend technique speeds up the effect by combining AC and DC, making the lye hotter. When properly performed, none of these techniques should result in electrolysis scars.

Treatments may produce some redness and swelling at first, which usually subsides within a couple of days. If the person scratches or picks at any scabs, scarring may result, just like with any other scab. Electrolysis scars can also form if ingrown hairs are dug out too aggressively. Hyperpigmentation may develop around treated areas where skin naturally reacts to damage by producing more melanin, or pigment, the same as with a suntan. Overtreatment can cause destruction of collagen, the supportive connective tissue under the skin.

Male-to-female transsexuals often have extensive electrolysis to remove beard hairs. The process can be long and time-consuming due to the size of the area and coarseness of the hair. A popping sound during thermolysis treatment means the AC current is too high and the fluid in the surrounding tissue has turned to steam. Sometimes it is tempting to indulge in a long session in order to remove as much hair as possible, but this will only increase inflammation and the possibility of electrolysis scars.

Home products that claim to remove hair through electrolysis should be viewed with caution, as most are simply fancy tweezers. Most of them do not use the actual process, which should only be performed by a trained, licensed technician. People who are more prone to scarring, such as those who form keloids, are more likely to end up with electrolysis scars. They should use home products and select professional hair removal methods with care.

To reduce inflammation and avoid electrolysis scars, products containing alcohol or other irritants should be avoided after treatment. Shaving is not recommended until the inflammation has subsided. Gentle care after treatment will help improve the appearance of skin. A daily sunscreen keeps sunburn and further irritation at bay, as will scheduling appointments with enough recovery time between them.

How To Get Rid of Electrolysis Scars With Microneedling

Electrolysis scars, although uncommon, are a risk associated with the popular hair removal treatment. However, whether the afflicted area was the result of negligent administration, improper aftercare or genetic predisposition, there are skin repair therapies available. When a person wants to learn how to get rid of electrolysis scars, one available procedure is microneedling.

Microneedling uses a series of sterilized needles to puncture small sections of damaged skin. This action prompts the body to produce collagen and elastin. These proteins are both integral to healing the scarred area. Higher collagen levels keep the skin moisturized, smooth and healthy, both in appearance as well as function. Elastin helps the skin to maintain elasticity and promotes stretched skin to return to its natural shape. People typically opt to have microneedling performed on the face, but it also works on the legs, chest and buttocks.

Physical Results of Microneedling

Microneedling is recommended by most dermatologists and aestheticians every four to six weeks for noticeable physical results. By then, the scarred area will have healed into an even texture and organic tone. Once the skin has grown smoother and firmer, some people still schedule annual maintenance treatments.

Procedural Benefits of Microneedling

Microneedling to get rid of electrolysis scars has a few procedural benefits for potential patients to consider:

  • It can be up to four times less expensive than various laser options.
  • It is advantageous to all skin types, regardless of tone.
  • The process does not involve heat, so there will not be any skin discoloration.
  • It is an outpatient procedure that only requires 30 minutes to an hour for each treatment.
  • The recovery time is relatively quick, ranging anywhere from a couple of days to a week.

 Side Effects Associated With Microneedling

Microneedling to get rid of electrolysis scars is not without the possibility of a few side effects. Although mostly mild, it is always a good idea for anyone considering elective medical care to understand the full scope of the risks. These include:

  • Skin flaking
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Acne breakouts
  • Bruising
  • Itchiness

How To Prevent Scarring From Electrolysis With a Laser Treatment

Laser treatment is a viable choice for a person who wishes to prevent an electrolysis scar, even if it has been years since its original formation. This process, also known as laser scar revision or laser skin resurfacing, uses light beams to break down the damaged tissue. There are two different methods for this therapy:

Carbon Dioxide Laser Resurfacing

The outpatient administration of carbon dioxide laser resurfacing does require anesthesia, depending on the area being treated and the amount of damage. The numbing is paired with sedative medications that help induce relaxation. Once the patient is prepped, the doctor manipulates a high-energy laser to vaporize thin layers of skin. The controlled injury ultimately results in collagen production that, over time, rejuvenates the scarred area.

Fractional Laser Resurfacing

Fractional laser resurfacing uses light energy that has been broken into thousands of microscopic beams. The doctor directs the laser into the dermis, or the tissue below the surface, heating the targeted region. The resulting tissue coagulation then promotes new, healthier growth. Patients may choose fractional laser resurfacing to significantly reduce recovery time because the treated areas are divided into smaller sections.

Do Electrolysis Scars Fade With a Chemical Peel? 

Electrolysis scars can fade with a chemical peel. This procedure is best defined as the application of an acid mixture to remove injured layers of skin. There are several at-home options and even a light clinical peel suitable for cosmetic scars and other restorative purposes. However, to most effectively and safely treat the typical electrolysis scar, a medical professional will administer a chemical peel at two possible depths.

Medium Peel

A medium peel is a moderately intensive approach for electrolysis scar repair. It is designed to penetrate to the dermis. The process includes:

  • Elimination of dead skin cells
  • Stimulation of collagen to rebuild healthier skin
  • Recovery time of 10 to 14 days
  • Antiviral medication to prevent infection
  • Possible side effects such as extended swelling, redness and hyperpigmentation

Deep Peel

A deep peel is the most aggressive chemical option to fade more severe electrolysis scars. The potent acidic solution that the doctor applies reaches the dermal glands, blood vessels and hair roots. This is also where collagen and elastin can be found. This treatment involves:

  • Removal of deep skin cells
  • Constriction of old collagen and formation of new collagen
  • Recovery time of 14 to 21 days
  • Antiviral medication to prevent infection and prescriptions for pain relief
  • Risks of additional scarring and liver, kidney or heart damage
BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon1004886 — On May 10, 2021

Nobody says "transsexual" anymore!! Please please update your language, it is embarrassing for you and uncomfortable for your readers.

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