Laser hair removal has become one of the most popular and fast-growing industries in beauty and care over the last few years. It has been calculated that around 60% of women living in the UK have tried laser hair removal treatment.
The delightful prospect of having unwanted hair removed from parts of your body attracts plenty of clients to the laser salons. Unfortunately, there are occasions were treatments do not go to plan and result with client’s being burnt and scarred.
A laser machine produces a concentrated laser light which beams into the hair follicles. The rays of light can rise to temperatures as high as 100c, destroying the hair follicles and preventing hair from re-growing. Since hair grows in cycles, the clients need to undertake at least 6 treatments over several months. If the machines are set at the wrong temperature or directed at specific areas for too long, then it can cause the skin to burn and leave patches.
There are two types of technological hair removal treatments. First, there is the Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), which is cheaper and less effective, as the light rays are more ‘scatter-gun’ and thus riskier. Secondly, there is the laser hair removal, which requires more expensive machinery and produces a concentrated beam of light that can be adjusted with more precision.
Up until October 2010, the use of IPL and laser treatments for cosmetic purposes had been regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). However, from then on, such practices were no longer regulated by an authoritative body. This big change made it possible for anyone to practice laser hair removal treatments with no prerequisite licence, knowledge or experience in the matter.
That being said, anyone has the option of purchasing a second-hand laser or IPL machine from eBay, Gumtree or Amazon, for as little as £500 – when originally they cost £30,000. In addition, the internet offers ‘qualification’ course for this field for £135.
How It Should Be Done
The practitioners in laser salons ought to be aware of the procedures and everything related to them, and they ought to inform the clients accordingly before the treatment takes place. They are expected to have extensive knowledge about all the steps, from pre-care to the procedure itself, the aftercare and the risks involved. However, since anyone can get a hold on the laser machines online, there are many chances for the procedure to go wrong and cause physical injuries, occasionally severe, to the clients, due to lack of proper training, experience and expert knowledge.
Before the actual procedure takes place, the practitioner is obliged to have a consultation with the potential clients, to inform them about the risks and the effects of the laser hair removal treatment and obtain their consent. In addition, all clients must have a patch test beforehand to check their skin sensitivity to determine whether it is safe for them to have the treatment. Failure to follow these preliminary measures may constitute a significant reason for hazardous results. Other factors causing laser hair removal to fail include the insufficient sanitisation and maintenance of the equipment used, as well as not following the correct procedure.
Some of the plausible and expected effects of laser or IPL treatments include sensitivity in the treated areas, a slight tingling or burning sensation and some minor pain, discomfort or inflammation for a short period. Some other temporary effects include redness, swelling and itching. However, if such side effects last for longer than expected and the pain or discomfort is immense, then you can be sure that the procedure did not go well. The clients may be left with unexpected injuries, most commonly burns, discolouration and scars.
Making a claim
According to the British Association of Dermatologists, around 7 out of 10 skin doctors have dealt with problems from non-surgical cosmetic procedures, bearing damages from laser hair removal treatments.
Even though the laser hair removal practices are not regulated as strictly as before 2010, the British Medical Laser Association (BMLA) produced the “Treatment Guidelines for the Use of Laser and Intense Pulsed Light Devices for Hair Reduction and Treatment of Superficial Vascular and Benign Pigmented Lesions”. This document outlines the correct procedures the practitioners should follow and the potential grounds for raising a claim in case of any personal injury.
The BMLA guidelines for potential personal injury claims:
- Cleanliness and infection control
- Consultation and consent
- Maintenance of a treatment register
- Maintenance of equipment
- Contra-indications and conditions requiring special consideration
- Pre-treatment tests
- Post-treatment care
- Recognition of treatment-related problems and skin reactions
When making a claim, you must establish liability on the part of the practitioner or the salon, i.e. that they were responsible for the injury. For example, most advertisements present this as a laser hair removal when, in fact, it is merely laser hair reduction; thus, the client’s expectations were not met. What was discussed in the initial consultation also plays a significant role in establishing liability for the injuries.
Furthermore, there must be an apparent link between the laser hair removal treatment and the injury caused. Note that it is not required to demonstrate that the treatment was the sole cause of the injury, but rather, that it made a material contribution to the damage. Expert evidence will be required from a qualified nurse or surgeon specialising in dermatology to provide a report for liability and causation.
You can either sue the clinic or the individual practitioner – or both. Determining this will depend upon the insurance arrangement between the clinic and the individual practitioner. Most often, the laser salons cover their employees with insurance; however, sometimes they work with individual practitioners, who have their own insurance, rather than employees and may claim no responsibility therein.
Fortunately, most of the personal injury cases for laser hair removal treatments do not proceed to court, as the responsible party settles for the agreed compensation.
How much is my claim worth?
This is our most common question and the answer is it is difficult to accurately determine the value of your case at the outset due the many factors such as:
- the nature of the underlying injury and severity of pain;
- the nature and extent of treatment;
- the nature and extent of the residual scarring or disfigurement;
- the age of the claimant;
- the subjective impact of the disfigurement upon the claimant including the extent to which they valued their appearance;
- the extent to which the injury adversely affects the claimant’s social, domestic and work lives;
- the psychological impact upon the claimant, which in severe cases may be very substantial.
As approximate compensation values for typical injuries we encounter these are current
|Facial tissue scarring
|£1,600 – £3,310
|£3,710 – £12,900
|£8550 – £28,240
|Scarring to other parts of the body
|£2,200 – £7,350
***taken from the Judicial College Guidelines for Assessment of Damages in Personal Injury Cases 15th Edition.
At GSR Solicitors we have successfully acted for clients who suffered injuries at the hands of negligent laser hair removal treatment. We understand the impact it has on our client’s both physically and psychologically.
Our initial consultation is completely free.
If we feel your claim has prospects of success we will take on your case on a ‘no win no fee’ service. This means if we are not successful with your claim (no win) then we would not charge you for our time and you would not receive a bill from us (no fee).
Please feel free to get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.