Laser treatments are a popular and highly effective way of removing unwanted hair from areas of the body, and smoothing out skin imperfections, such as wrinkles, stretch marks, tattoos and acne scars. Laser beams can destroy hair follicles in a fraction of a second, with far longer lasting results than other hair removal methods. When directed at the skin, electrodes in the laser beam will blast away the top layers, exposing the pink lower layer or dermis. Heating the dermis stimulates the production of collagen, and this in turn causes healthy, blemish-free layers of skin to form.
Since 2010, the legal position in the UK has been that non-surgical cosmetic laser and IPL procedures, including hair removal, skin resurfacing/rejuvenation and tattoo removal, can be carried out by anyone, regardless of their level of training or experience. This means that the majority of the estimated 10,000 private clinics providing cosmetic laser and IPL treatments in the UK are unregulated, despite the well-known risks that such procedures can involve, including burns, scarring and infections. If you have been injured by a laser or IPL treatment therefore you need to speak to a solicitor, as there is no official industry body to handle complaints.
Critics of the current system advocate the creation of an approved register of cosmetic laser treatment providers. The independent regulator of health and social care in England, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), legally requires cosmetic and laser clinics to register with it if they offer invasive cosmetic procedures such as nose surgery, laser lipolysis (including Smart Lipo) or refractive eye surgery. However, laser and IPL procedures including laser hair removal and laser skin resurfacing are not regulated by the CQC, and clinics offering these procedures therefore do not need to register with the body. Until the CQC extends its remit or a new register is introduced specifically for cosmetic laser treatment providers, numerous patients will continue to be injured every year due to poorly performed procedures, and sometimes their only option will be to seek legal advice.
Possibly, as patch tests results are a strong indicator of the safety of this treatment. Even before deregulation in 2010, thousands of ‘adverse events’ were recorded annually by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS). Laser treatments require a high level of technical accuracy, otherwise powerful laser beams can burn and damage the skin, potentially causing permanent scarring. A careful medical evaluation of prospective patients is necessary to assess an individual’s skin sensitivity, and determine the correct wavelength and pulse duration of the laser beam. Skin patch and / or hair strand tests should also be carried out where required for the same purpose of assessing a person’s suitability for a laser treatment.
Human errors at laser clinics include technicians setting the laser to the wrong frequency, causing damage when the beams are directed onto the skin. The laser may also be targeted at areas for fractionally too long with similar results. Typically, these types of mistakes will burn the skin, causing blistering and temporary, or in some cases permanent scarring. The skin may also have an uneven texture or be discoloured in patches following a treatment. Where such injuries affect facial areas a person may be left disfigured, and awareness of this can lead to acute embarrassment, loss of self esteem and psychological problems.
Our female solicitors regularly handle claim on behalf of clients who have been burned or otherwise injured by laser treatments. Because we specialise in laser injury claims, you can rest assured that we will obtain to maximum amount of compensation for you. Contact our specialist team today for free, confidential legal advice.