Safety of Laser Hair Removal in a Doctor’s Office vs. Other Choices
Effectiveness of Laser Hair Removal in a Doctor’s Office
The risks of laser hair removal are not widely known or discussed in med spa and salon advertisements. Since I wrote about laser hair removal in July 2016, things have changed.
New laws have been passed like the one in Virginia on July 1, 2017 by Representative Mark Keam D-Vienna to help regulate the field of laser hair removal. Med spas were the target of this law according to local news stations. A janitor severely burned a patient’s back after attempting laser hair removal.
Lawsuits remain on the rise for laser hair removal injuries. Do a Google search to discover the latest published cases. Most cases remain unreported when settlements are made.
Here’s a recent example from Aug 18, 2017 of someone with severe burns of her legs after laser hair removal which landed the patient in the hospital.
Most of the laser injuries were the result of a nonphysician who was the operator of the laser. 64% of the treatments resulting in injury were in a nontraditional medical setting or facility.
Settlements for burn injuries can reach up to one million dollars. That includes compensation for physical and emotional pain and suffering. Threats of punitive damages for gross negligence can force a medical practice to settle more readily.
In Ireland, it was reported on May 5, 2017 that patient was awarded 15,000 pounds in damages from injuries and burns after a laser bikini treatment.
Even though a doctor’s office is your best choice for laser hair removal, there are exceptions. Lately, all kinds of doctors have purchased lasers for some extra income.
That includes totally unrelated specialists like ophthalmologists, chiropractors, foot doctors, and gynecologists.
Don’t Believe Dr. Google
Here is an example of an outrageous statement made by a gynecologist answering a question on the internet. This doctor has added laser hair removal on the side in addition to her everyday medical practice.
Question: Are There Risks Associated with Laser Hair Removal?
Answer: If you’re considering having laser hair removal, you may be concerned about any possible side effects and risks.
While there are no risks associated with laser hair removal, one common side effect is some amount of skin redness, much like a sunburn. You should bring up any questions you may have about the procedure with Dr. XXXXXXX so she can fully explain all aspects of it to you.
I would have to strongly disagree. As would the personal injury attorneys who offer legal advice on the internet and advertise about laser hair removal burn injuries.
Don’t believe everything that’s written on the internet by doctors.
Lasers are not like point and shoot cameras on your smart phone. Laser hair removal risks are often not even brought up during the initial consultation at many less than reputable places.
Incredibly, most states do not require licensing of the laser operators. Recently, a janitor was found operating a laser which resulted in severe second and third-degree burns. This case instigated new laws in Virginia regulating who can do laser hair removal in that state.
In the wrong hands, laser hair removal has quite significant risks including scarring, burns and hyper and hypopigmentation. These risks are higher if you have darker skin. Tanning or spray tanning increases the risk.
To see what the serious risks are do a Google search for laser hair removal risks and hit the images button. Seeing images of laser hair removal gone bad is enough to make you sick to the stomach and have to turn your head away. Examples like this aren’t difficult to find if you do a Google search.
Even the Mayo Clinic doesn’t get it right about the risks of laser hair removal.
They are wrong when they say laser can make the hair turn grey. The truth is that when the dark hairs are removed, the grey and white hairs that were already there before the laser treatments were done become apparent.
The Mayo Clinic web site downplays the serious complications that get the headlines. Like with surgery, those are the rare disfiguring ones that still can and do occur. Those are the ones that cause you to call your lawyer.
Informed Consent Means That the Risks Were Discussed Before the Treatment
People need to be informed of those more serious but rare complications. That’s called full informed consent. Those serious complications send people to their lawyer when they were not revealed ahead of time both verbally and in writing.
It is extremely important that you have your laser treatments at an experienced medical office as opposed to a random spa or business where no doctor has ever set foot.
Supervision by a physician who is in the building when you are having a laser treatment is very important.
Unfortunately, many people see laser hair removal as similar to getting a haircut but there is much more involved. The potential for a bad outcome and complications are usually not even considered by most people.
Choose a Doctor’s Office with Years of Experience and Established Reputation
In regards to laser hair removal, a position statement from the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery was examined on NBC news.com.
They stated that the supervising physician should be physically present on-site, available for any circumstance, and able to quickly respond to any question or problem that could occur while the procedure was being undertaken.
USA Today stated that the risk of botched laser jobs runs high. The reason they state is:
… the types of injuries incurred by laser treatment often don’t rise to the level of being reportable. Inspection records also show that several clinics were cited for failure to adopt policies that require them to report laser injuries…”
I strongly agree.
They also emphasized that when considering laser hair removal, investigation or research should be done first and decisions about laser hair removal should not be made just on cost or convenience.
I second that also.
Non-physician’s supervised laser offices often also treat sun spots and pigmented areas of the skin with their lasers. Later they have been found to be skin cancers.
Other Risks of Laser Hair Removal
These are the financial risks that are hidden from you.
- Up selling
- “Financing available”
Laser hair removal is a luxury. It’s for people with disposable income.
That means if you have a tight budget and have trouble at the end of the month meeting your house and car payments, your utilities, your children’s expenses, and the million other things that you pay for, then it’s not for you.
Unsuspecting people are often sold laser hair removal services when financing is easily accessible “in house”.
If you miss a payment, your credit is at risk. The same as if you miss a mortgage or car payment.
Your house and your car are necessities. Hair removal is not worth wrecking your credit.
When financing is available, it makes signing up so much easier. Too easy. Take a deep breath step back, and go home and think about it before you sign anything.
Like Alice in Wonderland, we sometimes dive deeper into the rabbit hole after an intoxicating sales pitch by a professionally trained closer. In a nut shell, going “down the rabbit-hole” is a metaphor for embarking on an exciting adventure.
Don’t follow them down the rabbit hole. Getting rid of unwanted hair with the latest technology is enticing but there are traps. Signing up after an exciting sales pitch without seriously thinking about it is a trap.
It’s the places that overcharge that want you to sign that day before you can do any comparison price shopping. Resist their high-pressure sales pitch.
That doesn’t imply that you should choose the cheapest deal in town either. But call around. Get a couple of estimates. Also resist ultra-cheap Groupon laser hair removal offers and those for medical laser services. You will be unhappy.
There I just saved you a lot of money.
In addition, unethical laser places can turn the laser settings down to make more treatments necessary. Some will also treat people with blond, red or grey hair which never works. A person with dark hair and light skin is the ideal candidate.
A doctor’s office is usually your safest bet when getting laser hair removal.
That’s the overwhelming conclusion when you read other people’s experiences.
Risks of laser hair removal are usually not discussed before your treatments. Burns, scarring, and pigmentation issues can and do occur.
Fortunately, these are rare in the right hands with the right laser and with the right settings.
Financial risks also have to be considered before starting down this path since it’s not cheap. Another financial risk is that it may not work for you.
Don’t get screwed by overpaying after getting a hard sell at a laser chain or med spa.
Pay attention if your spider sense is tingling in those situations. It’s telling you that should be extra suspicious and cautious before you do something stupid.
Signing legally binding contracts for services before you receive them is asking for trouble.