Laser hair removal is a medical procedure

Laser hair removal is a medical procedure

A Brooklyn woman who underwent laser hair removal with a non-physician told The New York Times that she experienced burning pain during her third laser hair removal session. Red stripes appeared along the back of her legs, turning brown over the next few months. The operator error was to schedule her treatments four weeks apart instead of the recommended 10 to 12 weeks for legs.

If you are tired of tweezing, shaving and waxing, a laser can effectively remove hair from the face, legs, arms, underarm, bikini line and other areas. A laser is an intense, pulsating beam of light that passes through the skin, damaging individual hair follicles to retard hair growth. When lasers are used properly, results are satisfying. When they fall into the hands of untrained operators, they can cause burns and other injuries.

There has been a significant growth in lawsuits over laser surgery, mostly laser hair removal, performed by non-physician operators. Consumers should understand that the laser is a great tool, but it is the operator who does the work. Problems arise when people undergo these procedures at nonmedical facilities with no doctor supervision. 

Treatment errors occur in the hands of poorly trained operators. Licensing and training for laser hair removal operators varies from state to state. Laser hair removal is considered a medical practice in 35 states but nonmedical personnel doing the treatment are required to have on-site medical supervision in only 26 states. New York, Virginia and Georgia do not consider laser hair removal to be a medical treatment, and 11 states have no laws regulating it.

Put safety first before you are zapped with a laser. Here is what you should look for:

  • The facility should be owned by a doctor who is available during your treatment.
  • Measures should be in place in case of a medical emergency.
  • Make sure a licensed professional is performing your procedure. Find out if the operator has experience doing laser hair removal on the body part you have designated for treatment.
  • The operator must establish that laser treatment is appropriate for your skin type, hair color, complexion and the body area worked on. Ask for a test run on a small patch of skin

The skill of your operator is vital in getting you safe and effective treatment.