Laser hair removal is becoming more and more commonplace as many celebrities endorse the treatment and the American culture further plugs the idea that women who are hairless in all the right places are more beautiful. However, although it might not sound like one of the more "serious" treatments on the menu and you probably see dozens of discounted offers for it on flash sale sites, the below incident is a reminder that it's more powerful than you think.
A Moscow woman, Anastasia Serdobintseva, claims to have suffered severe burns on her legs after undergoing IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) laser hair removal at a local beauty salon she had visited once before for a manicure. Using a discount voucher for the treatment that she found online, Serdobintseva says she felt discomfort during the session, which uses light therapy to emit wavelengths into the skin that kill the cells that grow hair, and asked the technician to stop. She claims the technician blamed the pain on her "sensitive skin" rather than what was really happening: the laser was "slowy burning" her skin.
However, the pain continued, and when she got home, she noticed painful patches of discolored skinbegin to appear on her legs. She called for an ambulance and was taken to hospital where she was treated for first- and second-degree burns and told her legs will take up to six months to heal. (Click here to see what her legs looked like before the treatment, and here and here to see the traumatic results.)
"I've been walking in the dressing and in the bandages," Serdobintseva wrote on Facebook in a post. "For the next six months, I can't wear short skirts/pants, because I can't let the burned skin be exposed to the sun...Unfortunately, I don't have a refund, no contract and the salon is denying everything. I don't know what's going to happen, but I know that I'm not gonna recommend this salon even to my worst enemy.... Be careful!" (Note: The salon and technician involved have not been named, but reports have said that Serdobintseva has filed a lawsuit against the salon and the technician.)
"Laser hair removal is now seen as a commodity that can be easily performed in medi-spas without properly trained physicians or providers who understand light and laser therapy, and unfortunately, complications like this patient had to suffer through!" says New York dermatologist Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, MD. "These treatments are not without risks, and if the procedures are performed improperly, they can cause horrible and disfiguring burns and scars. In fact, as a dermatologist, I see complications from laser hair removal pretty commonly, which is scary. Additionally, the percentage of lawsuits in laser surgery increased from 36 percent in 2008 to 78 percent in 2011, with laser hair removal being the most commonly performed procedure in the lawsuit."
Dr. Levin also stresses that as a board-certified dermatologist, she cautions people from undergoing laser hair removal and IPL in places like medical spas that offer the treatment without a licensed medical person on-site or an improperly trained person. "This person needs to be not only trained on the procedure, but also understand any potential risks and complications, and how to treat those complications. If not, they may fail to realize that the person has a rash or a tan that can complicate the procedure. It's important to ask if there is a physician on-site before the procedure is performed, as well as what licensing and training the operator has and whether your skin type is safe for the procedure."