September 2010
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Warning About Cosmetic Laser Treatments


Cosmetic Laser Warning!

What you need to know before choosing to do a cosmetic procedure.
On one complaint website, there were 1,437 complaints regarding laser treatments and over 600 for one specific laser center. If you decide to go to a laser center based on their social media following or because you are looking for a low cost, you are taking a gamble. Some clinics hire inexperienced, even unqualified technicians to do treatment and rarely have a Doctor on site. A clinic may have a “medical director” on staff whom acts as a medical director for several locations. A med spa with a medical director on staff does not mean it is the medical practice of that person, in fact the medical director may never actually be in the clinic. I have even heard of cases where the “medical directer” was in another state. Med Spas often set sales quota’s for employees, so technicians are pressured to rush treatments. I call this type of practice ” turn em’ & burn em’ “. I don’t blame the technicians, it’s just a poor way to do business. These types of laser centers usually have a very high employee turn over rate and many unhappy customers.

Increasing popularity for Laser, IPL and RF treatments has lead to an increase of treatment complications. A poorly done laser treatment can lead to burns, hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, ocular injury, scars and a simple lack of results. Most complications are preventable and all are manageable. The increase in complications is primarily due to lack of training, experience, and medical supervision. It is important to know that it is not just the technology, it is also the technique that determines the result of a treatment. Cosmetic and laser treatments can be complicated and are best done by an experienced technician. Laser and IPL treatments all come with some inherent risk, which you should understand and except before you consent to treatment. Burns and other side effects can result even when treatment is performed by the best and most experienced laser technicians.

With all the new products and technology available today it is easy to be confused, when choosing a treatment. Laser, IPL, LED, Infrared, Radiofrequency and fractional resurfacing are all energy based technologies and each have different indications. A knowledgeable esthetician / laser technician can educate you on energy based treatments in addition to other treatment options. In some cases a chemical peel, Botox, or a cosmetic filler may be a better option than laser. A consultation with an experienced esthetician can help you to make an educated decision on treatment.

It’s easier to stay out of trouble than to get out of trouble.

Patients play an active role in their treatment.
Tanning is a contraindication to most laser and IPL treatments, it is the patients responsibility to use proper protection from UV rays and inform technician of any possible sun exposure. Follow all pre and post treatment instructions, including keeping skin cool. Patients that are noncompliant may be responsible for treatment complications. Anyone with dark skin is at increased risk for complications, and should look for an experienced technician that specialize in treating dark skin.

When choosing to do a cosmetic procedure always look for someone who is experienced with proper training and a successful reputation. Do not base decisions regarding laser treatments, solely on price. A poorly done treatment will cost you more in the long run. Laser clinics should not operate the same as a tanning salon or health club. Laser treatments are serious and should be treated as such.

Are they telling you what you want to hear?
Regardless of the technology, laser hair removal usually requires a minimum of 12 treatments on the face and 8 treatments on non-facial areas. In most cases periodic treatments are needed to maintain results. Laser technicians that tell you that you will only need 5 treatments are not necessarily lying to you intentionally, this is often what they are told by the companies that manufacture lasers. Same applies to claims of safely treating tan skin or effectively treating light hair, although it may be possible don’t count on it.

Questions to ask:
Are you a licensed esthetician and certified laser technician in this state?
Is there a Doctor on location?
How long have you been doing laser treatments?
How long have you worked with this laser or device?
How long have you been in this clinic?
Have you treated my skin type before?

If you have been burned
Most complications are manageable, and can often be completely resolved. Treatment protocol will depend on severity of burn. In some cases the “burns” are not as severe as they look. If it is just superficial redness with speckles of dark, you may even get a nice result. Unfortunately some burns may need medical attention and can lead to scarring. If you have been burned, return to the laser clinic immediately for follow up care. Proper treatment of the skin post treatment can make all the difference.

4:01 pm - Posted by Kristy

14 Responses to “Warning About Cosmetic Laser Treatments”

  1. […] to avoid complications. IPL treatments can provide beautiful results, but can also cause serious burns. It is the patients responsibility to choose an experienced professional, be honest about sun […]

  2. Tina says:

    Thakyou so much for this honest information. I am sincerely relieved.
    I recently had my 3rd session of laser done which resulted in a series of small burn marks all over my legs which ranged from light to medium/dark pink and speckly in some areas. I have noticed the sweeling subsided after a day, and the colour of the marks change. It has now been a week. Previously, this had not happend – at most, 3 days worth of swelling would occur.
    I was terrified of permenant hyperpigmentation, but ater seeing your article, i can clearly see the difference between something that will heal in time and the dark purple red marks that may leave permenant scarring.
    A very useful article.

    • Kristy says:

      We are glad to hear we were of help. Keep in mind that it also depends on your skin type and laser used. You may want to ask your esthetician about using hydroquinone, and defiantly use spf daily.

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  10. Jacqueline says:

    I wasn’t burned pretty badly at an office I’ve used regularly. This was done to remove some tiny red moles that were not raised. I’m Hispanic and the operator knows this and me well. I’m not sure why she used such a high setting, but she did. My burns are all on my stomach. I’ve been in frequent contact with her over he past 2 weeks since my burns. She assures me that these will will not scar but it’s going to take a long time. I’m not totally convinced. I’ve had ipl before and it’s never, ever looked like this. Can you look at the pic I’ve attached and give me any advice? I’m using emu oil, neosporin, vitamin e (oral and topical) and aquafor. I’m using these alone and in combination every 2 hours. IMG_5868.JPG

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