© 2019 by the authors. In this paper, we propose the local complexity estimation based filtering method in wavelet domain for MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) denoising. A threshold selection methodology is proposed in which the edge and detail preservation properties for each pixel are determined by the local complexity of the input image. In the proposed filtering method, the current wavelet kernel is compared with a threshold to identify the signal- or noise-dominant pixels in a scale providing a good visual quality avoiding blurred and over smoothened processed images. We present a comparative performance analysis with different wavelets to find the optimal wavelet for MRI denoising. Numerical experiments and visual results in simulated MR images degraded with Rician noise demonstrate that the proposed algorithm consistently outperforms other denoising methods by balancing the tradeoff between noise suppression and fine detail preservation. The proposed algorithm can enhance the contrast between regions allowing the delineation of the regions of interest between different textures or tissues in the processed images. The proposed approach produces a satisfactory result in the case of real MRI denoising by balancing the detail preservation and noise removal, by enhancing the contrast between the regions of the image. Additionally, the proposed algorithm is compared with other approaches in the case of Additive White Gaussian Noise (AWGN) using standard images to demonstrate that the proposed approach does not need to be adapted specifically to Rician or AWGN noise; it is an advantage of the proposed approach in comparison with other methods. Finally, the proposed scheme is simple, efficient and feasible for MRI denoising.