“Scarred for Life” (laser hair removal injury)

"Scarred for Life" by laser hair removal

On February 23, 2001, the Cleveland, Ohio NBC affiliate WYKC (channel 3) aired a news segment titled "Scarred for Life," reported by Lydia Esparra. It tells the story of a local woman who sustained nearly 6,000 second-degree burn marks on her legs following a 3-hour laser hair removal procedure performed by a non-physician laser technician.

Prior to the procedure, the client was given intravenous Valium and Demerol for the pain. Although some patients find laser hair removal to be quite painful, many dermatologists claim this level of anesthesia is excessive for this type of procedure, and it also makes patient self-assessment of possible overtreatment more difficult. The anesthesia helped allow the burning to continue unnoticed until the procedure was done and the medications wore off.

Use of these devices by non-physicians is currently being reviewed by FDA due to injuries such as these.

To help protect yourself, insist on having a physician, preferably a dermatologist or plastic surgeon with lots of laser experience perform the treatment. If this is not an option, learn the qualifications of the person performing the procedure. In some states, they require no formal training of any kind. See my section on choosing a laser practitioner for more suggestions.

Finally, avoid excessive use of painkillers during the procedure. This can alert you to the fact that you are being overtreated.

Below: photos taken in the days following laser treatment. Although the discoloration faded over time, the patient was left with thousands of permanent scars on her legs.

If you have been injured in a hair removal procedure, please contact me through my feedback form.