Do Defibrillators Leave Burn Marks?

Let’s be realistic here – when your heart has stopped beating, a little burn mark is the least of your concerns. But since you asked, yeah, defibrillators can sometimes leave a red mark or minor burn on your chest area. It’s an unfortunate side effect of the life-saving process.

Here’s an example from one I found on imgur.

an example of a defibrillator burn to the skin

Before you start imagining something horrific, let me explain. Most people who’ve been defibrillated experience at least some redness or discoloration at the electrode site. It’s actually quite common and usually just a temporary cosmetic issue.

However, I know burns from a defibrillator sounds concerning. And look, I won’t sugar-coat it – some people do end up with legitimate burns from the procedure. It’s not the norm, but it can happen, especially if the pads aren’t positioned correctly or the patient has particularly sensitive skin.

How bad is it actually?

Here’s the reality though – we’re talking minor burns, not severe trauma. Think red, irritated skin, maybe some blistering if you’re really unlucky. But a small price to pay for having your heart restarted, wouldn’t you agree? I know I’d take a burn over being six feet under any day.

In fact, for many people, discomfort comes more from a reaction to the sticky gels used on the pads rather than the electrical current itself. Some redness and irritation, but nothing too dramatic.

At the end of the day, a burn mark is an inconvenience when you consider the alternative. As the saying goes, a red chest mark or death? I’ll take the shock to live another day.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not downplaying risks here. Proper pad placement and following instructions is crucial to avoid unnecessary burns. But if you need a defibrillator, some skin discoloration is going to be the least of your worries in that moment.

Learn to save lives

So if you hear those “STAY CLEAR” voice prompts, don’t stress too much about scars. Just be grateful you have that life-saving device and someone who can use it. A zap could be the difference between sunrise or grave.

If you ask me, I’ll take the burn over being buried any day. But I’d encourage you to read our article “How Defibrillators Work” to fully understand the amazing impact and minimal risks of these life-savers.

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