Laser and IPL (intense pulsed light) hair removal treatments are more effective, and last longer than alternative techniques for removing unwanted body hair. They can also achieve permanent hair reduction after multiple treatments. The laser beam blasts and penetrates the outer layers of skin, destroying the individual hair follicle (the root of each hair strand) with intense heat, and thereby slowing the rate at which it will re-grow. Laser hair removal is normally performed on the face and legs, though it can work successfully on any other area of the body.
Laser hair removal treatments are to a certain extent inherently dangerous, due to the energy contained in the laser beams, and their potential to badly burn the skin. If laser equipment is of inferior quality, or the technician makes an error prior to or during the treatment, areas of skin may be burned and permanently blemished by marks and scars. The most common error is when a laser machine is set to an incorrect frequency, that is too strong for an individual’s skin type, or where the duration of the laser treatment it too long. Both mistakes can cause severe burn injuries and irreparable skin damage.
These types of injuries can be prevented if laser clinics and beauty salons evaluate clients properly, to assess their suitability for laser treatments, and to determine the laser equipment’s optimum settings, based on an individual’s skin and hair type. Apart from burning the skin, laser beams may also cause discolouration; a lightening or darkening of the skin, that may be temporary, or last for an extended period of time. The eyes may also be severely damaged if laser beams are directed near or into the retina. The skill of the technician is therefore of critical importance when deciding where to have a laser hair removal treatment carried out.
As per the Care Standards Act 2000, practitioners are required to register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) when Class 3b and Class 4 lasers, as well as IPL devices, are being used to remove skin tissue (invasive cosmetic procedures such as scar removal). Laser and IPL hair removal treatments are non-surgical procedures, and have been neither licensed nor regulated in the UK since changes to the law in 2010. This means that practitioners often lack the training, skills and experience to be able to carry out hair removal treatments safely, and their clients face an unacceptably high risk of being injured as a result.
Case Study 1
Mrs L underwent a course of laser treatments to remove hair from her upper lip and armpits. Following her 4th laser session, Mrs L’s skin was red, inflamed and sore. The therapist had adjusted the temperature on the laser machine, and this had left Mrs L with horizontal burn marks on her lip and armpits. In the hours after the treatment, Mrs L’s skin began to blister, and later formed scabs, which ultimately left her with raised marks under her arms that took months to fade. Her course of laser hair removal treatments had been booked in advance of her wedding, and Mrs L was left in considerable pain and discomfort, both at the wedding itself and on her honeymoon. She complained to the laser clinic, but failed to receive a reply, and therefore decided to seek legal advice.
Our beauty treatment lawyers advised Mrs L that she had strong grounds for making a personal injury claim against the cosmetic clinic, and agreed to represent her on a no win no fee basis. In outlining our client’s case, we pointed to the fact that, as the clinic acknowledged, the laser therapist had raised the temperature of the machine during Mrs L’s 4th treatment, due to their perception that it was not achieving the desired effect. This was irresponsible behaviour, given that fact that her series of treatments had been planned in advance, with a set temperature based on her individual skin type and sensitivity. Specialist medical reports confirmed the severity if Mrs L’s burn injuries, and within a few months we were able to gain an admission of liability from the laser clinic’s owners, and later negotiate a compensation settlement for Mrs L totalling £3,250.
Case Study 2
Ms T was visiting her local beauty salon for an IPL laser hair removal treatment on her chin and cheeks. During the procedure, Ms T felt that the laser was hotter than she remembered from previous appointments, and mentioned this to the operator. Her face was red with small heat bumps appearing following the treatment, and the salon gave her cooling cream to take home, with assurances that her skin would clear up within hours. When Ms T got home and looked in the mirror, she saw that her cheeks and chin had both swollen up, and that skin was peeling off. The following day her face was blistered and painful. Though her condition did clear up, Ms T was forced to take 2 weeks off work before she felt normal looking enough to face her colleagues.
Ms T was obviously distressed by her experience, and frustrated by the fact that the beauty salon in question refused to apologise or admit responsibility. We represented Ms T in a claim for compensation against the salon. We wrote to their insurers stating that the laser’s frequency and pulse duration must have been set to high on the day in question for it to have caused such serious damage to Ms T’s face. On investigation it emerged that the laser had been recently serviced, and this had altered its normal settings. The salon had therefore breached the duty of care it owed Ms T, by failing to carry out her laser hair removal treatment in a reasonably competent manner. Liability was accepted by the salon’s insurers, and Ms T received £2,750 in compensation for her injuries.
Case Study 3
Bartletts Solicitors recently concluded a personal injury claim on behalf of a lady who was left scarred from a laser hair removal treatment. Ms N decided to undergo series of class 4 laser hair removal procedures, to remove what she regarded as excessive hair on her arms. During the third laser session, the operator turned the laser up to a higher setting, causing the skin on her forearms to turn red and begin to sting immediately after the treatment. Over the following few days, Ms N’s skin became painfully blistered, and she was told by the salon manager that the blisters would form scabs and fall off, recommending she use aloe vera oil to sooth them in the meantime. She was instead left with indented scars on her forearms, which required ongoing medical treatment and were still clearly visible over 6 months later.
The salon where the procedure was carried out was not regulated by the government’s Care Quality Commission, so Ms N decided to seek legal advice, and Bartletts later agreed to represent her on a no win no fee basis in a personal injury claim against the salon. We wrote to them, contending that the third laser hair removal treatment our client had undergone was negligently performed, as the operator did not consider the risk to Ms N’s skin that turning the laser up to a higher setting would pose. Salons offering class 4 laser treatments are expected to exercise a reasonable standard of care and skill when dealing with clients, and in this instance they had plainly failed to do so. We were able to reach a settlement with the salon’s insurance company, and Ms N received £3,000 in compensation for scarring caused by laser hair removal.
Case Study 4
Ms V was having IPL hair reduction carried out at a beauty and laser treatment clinic, when she was badly burnt near the top of her legs and on her inner thighs by the IPL machine. During the procedure, Ms V complained to the therapist about burning sensations on her skin, but was told that this was normal, and the light intensity setting on the IPL machine was not lowered. Her skin was sore and red following the IPL hair reduction treatment, and the same evening Ms V noticed that her skin had darkened, was painful to the touch, and hurt when she walked around. The pain worsened in the coming days and Ms V saw her GP, who diagnosed and treated her for second degree burns caused by the IPL machine. She was left with marks on the skin on her upper legs and inner thighs, and these had not faded completely more than 6 months later.
Ms V returned to the clinic to complain and request information about the IPL machine, but staff refused to help, and as a result Ms V contacted our beauty treatment solicitors for legal advice. We went on to represent her in a no win no fee claim against the salon, and wrote to the clinic’s parent company outlining Ms V’s case. Before and after photographs along with a specialist medical report by a dermatologist helped establish the severity of Ms V’s burn injuries, and we were later able to show that the therapist who carried out the procedure was not properly qualified in administering IPL treatments. For this reason, the light intensity setting on the IPL machine had been too strong for Ms V’s skin type. The clinic’s insurers acknowledged liability for her burn injuries, and Ms V subsequently received £3,250 in personal injury compensation.
If you have been burned by a laser hair removal treatment at a clinic or salon contact our specialist female lawyers today for free, confidential advice. Our experience in this field guarantees you the best legal opinion of your case, and the highest possible compensation settlement for your injury.