In 2013, there was a reported increase in the number of patients filing lawsuits against cosmetic clinics and companies after getting scars, burns, and other wounds from failed laser surgeries. In that year, there were 175 cases related to laser treatments, and the number has remained steady since then.
In the industry, there is a rising demand for laser hair removal, as the technology provides a clean and long-term solution to unwanted hair in certain parts of the body. Some opt for permanent hair removal, too, which some clinics also offer.
The results of hair removal fiascos
While the procedure has proven to be effective, the concentrated heat that is used in the removal of hair becomes an extremely dangerous and damaging tool when used by under-qualified practitioners. Laser burns and scars are just some of the most common side effects of such situations. This is exactly what happened in a recent and notable example of a failed laser hair removal procedure that resulted in a lawsuit.
The plaintiff, a 38-year-old childcare worker from Dublin, suffered from second degree laser burns after attending four out of six laser hair removal sessions. The patient argued that the burns gave her a month’s worth of pain and the inability to wear certain types of clothing due to the scars that were clearly visible on her bikini area, legs, and thighs, even though she was tanned.
In May this year, the case was resolved, with the court awarding the plaintiff €15,000 for damages. The clinic in question was ordered to pay their patient €848 for special damages and return the €600 that she spent for the botched hair removal sessions.
The strength of failed laser hair removal lawsuits
While lasers have been used widely for medical purposes and have been proven countless times to be safe, the problem arises when practitioners are not qualified enough to handle the equipment. Some states do not have laws that require beauty spas or clinics to employ licensed or trained physicians for these much-demanded laser treatments. In 2013, 43% of the legal cases related to botched laser hair removal surgeries involved non-doctors handling the equipment. Patients can receive up to third degree burns in such cases.
Furthermore, these incorrectly applied treatments result in more than just physical harm. In 2001, a patient who was caught in the same situation proved this. In a case in Dublin, the patient got laser burn due to numerous failed hair removal sessions. Here, however, the patient had the scars and burns on her face, resulting in long-term and severe psychological and emotional consequences where reward for damages can do little to help.
Although spas and clinics that are manned by non-doctors cannot be held accountable for medical malpractice, victims may file a variety of other claims against such clinics. These include negligence, and assault or violation of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. It is therefore advised that victims of these present solid evidence of such claims, like diary or journal entries, aside from the presence of scars.
Image via freedigitalphotos.net (nenetus)