We have investigated the Ga+ ion-damage effect induced by focused ion beam (FIB) milling in a  single crystal of a 316 L stainless steel by the electron channelling contrast imaging (ECCI) technique. The influence of FIB milling on the characteristic electron channelling contrast of surface dislocations was analysed. The ECCI approach provides sound estimation of the damage depth produced by FIB milling. For comparison purposes, we have also studied the same milled surface by a conventional electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) approach. We observe that the ECCI approach provides further insight into the Ga+ ion-damage phenomenon than the EBSD technique by direct imaging of FIB artefacts in the scanning electron microscope. We envisage that the ECCI technique may be a convenient tool to optimize the FIB milling settings in applications where the surface crystal defect content is relevant.