The New York Times ran an article recently about the risks associated with laser hair removal, a procedure that has become extremely popular with both men and women in recent years.
According to the Times, close to a half million such treatments were performed by qualified dermatologic surgeons in 2011. But according to the “paper of record” an unknown number of laser hair removal procedures are performed each year by non-physicians who may have little, or no, training.
When done properly the procedure can be effective and result in the permanent removal of unwanted hair on and around public and private body parts. Performed improperly, the Times reports, the lasers used in the procedure can cause “disfiguring injuries and severe burns in sensitive areas, like the bikini line and the mustache area above the lip.” Rarely, people have even died from the procedure, the Times warns.
The American Dermatological Association worries about the dramatic increase in the number of non-medical facilities, and poorly-trained practitioners who operate out of so-called medical spas and offer “laser and other cosmetic treatments but may not have licensed medical personnel on site” according to the Times article.
One of the doctors interviewed for the article said, “There’s a perception in the public that anybody can perform this procedure. People need to remember it’s not the laser doing the work, it’s the operator.”
The Times reports that the number of personal injury lawsuits involving non-physician operators “rose to 78% in 2011 – the last time records were kept – from 36% in 2008.”
According to the Times article, for those considering laser hair removal, here are some things to consider before proceeding with your treatment:
- Ask if the facility is owned by a medical doctor and whether he or she is immediately available during procedures. Ask the provider to review your medical history. Ask what procedures are in place in case of an emergency.
- Ask who will actually perform the procedure. What licensing and training does the operator have? How many times has the operator performed laser hair removal? Has he or she done it on the part of the body that you want treated?
- Ask whether laser treatment is appropriate for your skin type, hair color, complexion and body area. Suggest that the operator test a small patch of skin before you undergo the procedure. Consumers with conditions like diabetes may have difficulty with wound healing, or a tendency toward keliod scarring. They may be especially vulnerable to complications and should talk to a doctor before undergoing laser treatment.
If you experience pain or discoloration after a procedure, don’t wait — call your doctor right away. If you are the victim of a serious laser hair removal injury you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer for a free consultation. The Ashley Law Firm in one such firm. Call 212 -513-1300.