Laser hair removal has continued to grow in popularity over the last few decades, especially across New York City and Long Island, where the beaches are a popular attraction. Both men and women are opting for removing unwanted body hair with the use of a laser instead of plucking, shaving, or waxing. Unfortunately, when this treatment is performed improperly, permanent damage and serious injuries can occur.
The Dangers of Laser Hair Removal
According to a study published by JAMA Network, laser hair removal was the most commonly litigated case among injuries caused by laser procedures from 1985 to 2012. New York was the second-highest state for injuries related to laser procedures, including applications such as laser tattoo removal, laser surgery, and other aesthetic procedures such as wrinkle or vein removal.
Burns made up nearly 50% of all laser injuries reported in the study. Burn injuries included both second and third-degree burns, as well as full-thickness necrosis, also known as death of the skin cells and living tissue.
The increasing rate of lawsuits piling up against companies and technicians who perform laser hair removal is occurring for several reasons, some including:
A lack of comprehensive federal regulations governing who is qualified to operate a laser is leading to preventable injuries. In medical applications involving lasers, such as surgery, not just anyone can use this equipment. These procedures are performed by licensed surgeons who have spent over a decade in education programs to grow and practice their surgical techniques. Laser hair removal, however, is considered an aesthetic procedure, even though the lasers used can still pose serious safety risks to clients. Lax oversight in this area is allowing salons, spas, and other non-medical facilities to offer laser hair removal services without having a physician present to supervise staff who may be unqualified to perform these procedures.
Poorly Trained Staff
A study by Reuters in 2014 found that over 40 percent of legal cases claiming injuries from hair or scar removal involved someone other than a physician who used the laser. Employees who work in non-medical facilities providing laser hair removal may not be properly trained to prevent errors leading to injuries. Holding a laser too long in one place, using the wrong laser, or setting the laser on a higher setting than needed, are all common mistakes poorly trained technicians can make that could pose a risk of bodily harm to customers.
Mistreatment of Sensitive Skin
Laser hair removal is often performed on areas of the body where the skin is more sensitive and prone to irritation. Chins, faces, upper lip areas, underarms, and bikini areas are the most popular areas of sensitive skin treated at an elevated risk for injury. It takes a highly trained technician to properly treat these areas with a laser to avoid injuries such as burns, blisters, and scarring.
Lasers are expensive, and not easy to replace when maintenance issues occur. Non-medical facilities are more likely to use damaged and defective equipment to save on costs than purchase upgrades that could reduce injuries for clients. Burns are the most common injury reported from defective equipment, followed by scarring and pigment changes.
Poor or Lack of Care Instructions
After laser hair removal is performed, a physician or trained technician is responsible for providing after-care instructions, including applying creams and ointments to affected areas and when to avoid sunlight. Without proper care instructions, clients are left at the risk of scarring and infection, a particularly devastating effect on areas such as the face.
The Most Common Injuries
Lasers are extremely powerful pieces of equipment that can cause a range of painful side-effects and injuries when misused. Medical News Today highlights the following as the most common injuries sustained from laser hair removal procedures:
- Eye Injuries: One of the most serious injuries sustained during laser hair removal is eye damage. When lasers come in direct contact with the eyes, a client can experience temporary or even permanent eye damage depending on the severity of the exposure.
- Burns and Blisters: Lasers are hot beams of light that can cause the skin to burn and blister. Second and even third-degree burns can occur if the laser becomes hot enough to damage past multiple layers of the skin. Painful blisters can also increase a client’s risk of infection if they open.
- Scars: Scarring from laser hair removal may result from injuries such as blisters, burns, infections, or skin crust, but can also appear when the treated areas are not properly cared for by a technician after the procedure.
- Skin Infections: Damaged hair follicles can increase a person’s risk of infection if small open wounds develop after a procedure. Infections that spiral out of control can lead to fatal conditions such as sepsis in severe cases.
- Skin Crusting: Laser hair removal can lead to skin crust, a condition involving a thick, dead layer of skin the area treated by the laser. Scabbing can follow if the crust is removed, also leading to the possibility of scarring.
- Redness and Irritation: Redness and mild irritation is expected after a procedure. Prolonged redness and irritation can occur when the hair follicles react poorly to the laser. Skin can feel tender, tingly, or even swell.
- Change In Pigments: Changes in skin pigmentation is a condition that is more annoying than painful, but still an unwanted side effect. The area where laser hair removal is performed can appear lighter or darker compared to the rest of your skin tone. This effect can be temporary or permanent, depending on the case.
Laser Hair Removal Q&A
Laser hair removal is not for everyone, and professionals who perform these procedures are not all equal. If you are considering laser hair removal, this is what you need to know before you go under the laser:
How Does Laser Hair Removal Cause Injuries?
As described by Mayo Clinic, laser hair removal is a procedure that uses a concentrated beam of light to remove unwanted hair. The light is converted to heat and damages the hair follicles to reduce or delay the growth of hair in the future. Laser hair removal procedures are normally performed multiple times, in the beginning, to inhibit the growth of hair, with follow up treatments as needed to reduce any unwanted hair that continues to grow back.
Being that the purpose of the laser is to literally ‘damage’ a portion of your skin, this equipment can easily lead to additional injuries when misused. Intensity settings for aesthetic laser procedures depend on the type of skin and pigment of the client. All skin types react differently to heat and light, and lasers that are too hot or placed on one area of the skin for too long can result in serious damage for some clients.
Other types of injuries occur when lasers stray onto parts of the body unprepared for the laser treatment. Before a procedure, a technician may apply products to cool or protect your skin from the heat of the laser. For the eyes, technicians should provide protection to prevent eye damage from the light. If the laser comes in contact with areas of the body that are not prepared for the procedure, burns and permanent damage can occur.
Why Do Laser Hair Removal Injuries Occur?
In New York, a laser hair technician does not require any type of licensing to perform such a procedure. So you can often find medical spas, salons, or wellness centers offering this treatment. A licensed physician typically does not perform the procedures in these establishments, leaving room for errors made by improperly trained staff.
Another factor is that laser hair removal equipment has become increasingly powerful as technology continues to advance in the industry. Due to a lack of adequate training and education on the changes, several technicians may be using laser equipment incorrectly.
Lastly, spas and salons are paid by the appointment. The faster each appointment goes, the more customers a facility can see. Rushed technicians who focus on keeping the schedule moving are more at risk for errors from negligence and missed steps than trained staff who is following the necessary steps to prevent harm to their clients.
How Do I Know If I Have A Case?
If you have experienced any pain or injury after laser hair removal outside of the typical discomfort expected, something may have gone wrong during your procedure. Burns, blisters, scars, extended pain and suffering, and eye damage are all examples of injuries that are not typical symptoms of laser hair removal and could indicate negligent practices.
What Do I Do After A Laser Hair Removal Injury?
You may feel embarrassed to tell anyone about what happened after your laser hair removal procedure because of the results or the sensitive area of your body where the treatment was performed. However, keeping your pain to yourself can lower your quality of life and put your health at risk if additional medical treatment is needed.
Seek medical attention for any injuries or discomfort you are feeling after laser hair removal to prevent the risk of infection or future medical complications. Next, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your options. These initial consultations are typically free and can help lead you in the right direction for your unique case.
How Do I Receive Compensation for Laser Hair Removal Injuries?
Since laser hair removal procedures are not classified as medical treatments, you will not be able to sue a facility for medical malpractice. On the other hand, you can bring a lawsuit against them for negligence and emotional distress due to the procedure.
It will be up to you to prove in a court of law that the hair removal treatment you received was the cause of your damages and injuries. You will need to gather information about the person who performed the procedure, their employer, as well as the owner of the facility where you obtained treatment, to determine who can be held liable. You should also find out the type of equipment that was used to perform the laser hair removal so it can be determined whether or not the equipment was defective.
Gather photographs of the injuries and any medical bills for treatment related to the damages caused by laser hair removal. In addition, keep any documentation from rehabilitation, subsequent medical treatment, or psychological services required to cope with the issues after your procedure.
What Kind of Damages Can Be Claimed?
When you receive laser hair removal, you should not have to seek additional medical treatment, miss work, or feel distraught by the results of your procedure. Any medical expenses, hospital bills, pain and suffering, loss of income, or emotional distress resulting from a laser hair removal injury may qualify for compensation in a lawsuit.
Is My Laser Hair Removal Injury Worth the Lawsuit?
If you were injured due to a negligent technician or facility, or from a defective laser used, you have the right to seek justice for all damages sustained. Being compensated for your injuries can allow you to access the right medical treatment required to recover from your injuries and to prevent further complications. Also, a lawsuit against the facility may help to expose shady practices and prevent other people from becoming victims of the same technician.
New York Laser Hair Removal Lawsuit Settlements
Clients who seek laser hair removal services are not looking to leave in worse condition than when they came. Technicians and staff performing these procedures are responsible for using the utmost caution and care to keep customers safe. When clients are injured from defective equipment or negligent practices, the cost of the physical damages can be outstanding:
Second and Third Degree Burns: $225,000
After a laser hair removal procedure on and around the female genitalia area, a woman experienced severe second and third-degree burns. The long-term consequences of this scarring was serious, and although it did fade, the woman suffered physical and emotional damages.
Burns Caused Scarring on Legs: $125,000
Laser hair removal treatments to the arms and legs left one woman with serious burns. The young woman’s laser burns caused a checkerboard pattern of red marks on both of her arms and legs. Although the scars have faded somewhat, they remain visible. She continues to receive treatment from a dermatologist with the hope that the scars will not be permanent. She continues to experience depressed mood, loss of confidence and self-esteem, sleep impairment, anxiety, and shame over the scars.
Severe Burns on Genitalia: $75,000
A woman received multiple laser burns on her genitalia and the surrounding area after laser hair removal. Although the injury is not permanent, she endured both physical and emotional pain and suffering.
Burns to Legs: $65,000
A woman suffered laser burns on both legs as a result of cosmetic hair removal. The treatment resulted in several burns to the legs when the machine’s power controls were increased to expedite the procedure.
Blisters and Scars on Breasts: $60,000
A woman suffered laser burns, blisters and scars in between her breasts after undergoing laser hair removal. She says she was told that the treatments were safe and conducted by trained technicians.
Cosmetic Hair Removal Burns – $45,000
A woman received laser burns on her legs as a result of cosmetic laser hair removal. The second-degree burns occurred all over her legs. Although the scars healed, the woman suffered painful injuries and emotional trauma.
If you have undergone laser hair removal and suffered similar injuries, you are not without legal recourse. Contact an experienced attorney who can review your case and provide the legal help you need to receive the compensation you deserve after an injury.
New York City and Long Island Personal Injury Lawyers
Our personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Siler & Ingber, have over 20 years of experience serving clients across New York City and Long Island. We protect your rights by maximizing recovery and securing the financial support our clients need to succeed on their road to recovery. Our winning attorneys know how to navigate through the claim process using our past experience as insurance defense attorneys. We are not afraid to fight and are fully prepared to take your case to trial to get a justified verdict over settling for less.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another, our team at Siler & Ingber is here to help. With a 98% success rate, we have the experience and the know-how to help our clients achieve a favorable outcome. Contact us today at 1-877-529-4343, or schedule an appointment online anytime. We never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.