October 28, 2010
It's so much easier to do than shaving or waxing, but laser hair removal doesn't come without dangers.
One local woman claims she went in for the treatment, which promises to get rid of unwanted hair, but came out with second and third degree burns.
Doctors insist laser hair removal is safe, but it -depends on who's using the laser.
Until last month, there were no legal requirements for people operating these machines. In September, Texas passed a law requiring at least 24 hours of training. Still, doctors say it is imperative that you do your research before getting it done.
"[The Idol Images technician's] suggestion to me was go home and put some ice packs on [my] legs," said the woman who was severely burned after getting laser hair removal.
But no amount of ice was going to soothe these burns -- dozens of them running up and down her legs.
She doesn't want us to use her name or show her face because, quite honestly, she's a little embarrassed. But she wants her story to be a warning to others.
"I was like, 'Why is it so painful?'" she recalled after having the treatment in May.
The first time around was a breeze, she said, but the second time was unbearable.
"[The technician] said, 'Keep in mind that you have to go up a level, so it's going to be a little more painful,'" she remembered.
So, she toughed it out. Unfortunately, five months later still has the scars as a reminder.
Dr. Suzanne Bruce said some discomfort is normal, but intense pain is a red flag.
"For someone like me [who is] very fair complected, you can turn the energy machine pretty aggressive on a fair-skinned person," Bruce said. "But if you are dealing with somebody with either a tan or just a darker complexion to start with -- those are the cases where there's a greater risk of burning the patient."
There are different lasers for different skin types.
Bruce suggested checking the techinician's history before the machines are fired up. Her technician is a Registered Nurse and has 10 years under her belt just in this office.
Most importantly, verify that a doctor is on-hand to answer any questions that may come up, Bruce said.
"I thought these were like Registered Nurses because I had gone to Idol Images in San Antonio and all of their staff was Registered Nurses, so I assumed this was just generic throughout the business," the woman said.
That is not the case.
"A lot of people get into doing cosmetic procedures [because] they think it's a cash cow; a great way to make money, but they get into to it not knowing what they are doing," Bruce said.
This woman filed a civil suit against the business where she got the treatment.
Her attorneys at Fitts Zehl LLP said they've represented 100 people with similar stories in the past 18 months.