During laser hair and tattoo removal treatments a beam of high intensity light passes through the skin, targeting and destroying hair follicles (the root of each hair) or else breaking down the tattoo ink into smaller particles. With both hair and tattoo removal, patients will usually require a number of sessions to achieve lasting hair reduction or to remove a tattoo entirely. Deregulation of the use of lasers for cosmetic purposes in 2010 has decreased the cost of such treatments, though concerns remain about the quality of some of the laser equipment in use at UK cosmetic clinics and beauty salons.
Any treatment involving high intensity laser beams being directed onto and through the skin has a certain level of risk attached to it. Much depends on the qualifications, skill and experience of the laser technician, as well as the standards of care at the clinic offering the treatment.
Clinics need to offer the appropriate pre and post treatment care to patients, including carrying out a detailed consultation and assessment, to determine the intensity of the laser energy to be used and the number of treatments that an individual will require. It is estimated that up to 2% of laser tattoo removal patients are left with permanent scarring or skin damage following a course of treatment sessions. This is usually either the result of errors on the part of the laser technician (for example setting the laser to the wrong frequency), or due to a pre-treatment assessment inaccurately determining a person's skin type, sensitivity and corresponding reaction to the laser beam.
Potentially permanent skin discolouration and changes in skin pigmentation are also small but significant risks common to all laser treatments. The treated skin may be lighter than surrounding skin (hypopigmentation), or else darker (hyperpigmentation). Either way, this change may be irreversible, amounting to disfigurement. There is also the risk of infection and light sensitivity following laser hair and tattoo removal treatments, emphasising the importance of clinics offering proper post-treatment advice and care to patients.
From a legal point of view, laser hair and tattoo removal patients can expect to have their treatments carried out in a reasonably competent manner, by skilled, experienced professionals. Botched laser treatments may be caused by the negligence of either the laser technician or laser clinic. In either case, it is often possible to claim compensation for the resulting injuries, both physical and emotional, as well as related factors, such as loss of earnings and the cost of corrective cosmetic treatments.
Mr B was having multiple laser tattoo removal procedures carried out at a Harley Street clinic, when he was burnt due to the negligence of the laser operator. After his first treatment, Mr B noticed small blisters appearing on the skin on his neck. When he returned to the clinic for his second treatment, he was informed that the settings on the laser must have been too high first time round, and the laser’s intensity was duly reduced for the second procedure. Mr B’s skin was however further inflamed by this second treatment, and was oozing and weeping afterwards. Over the coming weeks he developed a raised (keloid) scar on the side of his neck, which was prominent, and furthermore appeared to be increasing in size as time went by. He is currently awaiting expensive scar revision surgery, though there is no guarantee that he will not be left with some level of permanent scarring.
Mr B was deeply upset and angry with the clinic in question, and got in touch with Bartletts Solicitors for advice on taking matters further. We later represented him in a no win no fee claim against the clinic, and contacted them, arguing that Mr B’s skin damage and keloid scarring had been caused primarily by the laser having been set too high during the first procedure. Furthermore, given that Mr B’s skin was noticeably damaged, the second procedure should never have gone ahead until his skin had fully healed. Laser treatment customers have a legal right to expect that their procedure will be carried out in a reasonably competent manner, and in this instance, the clinic had failed to meet the minimum standard of care expected of them. On admission of liability Mr B received £5,500 in compensation from the clinic’s insurance company, representing damages for pain and suffering, and the cost of corrective surgery.
We have recently dealt with cases where laser hair and tattoo removal treatments have gone disastrously wrong for clients. In the resulting compensation claims we have recovered damages for pain and suffering, as well as medical and travel expenses and loss of earnings for time off work. Contact us today for free expert legal advice.