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Laser hair removal: risks and safety precautions

Contending with unwanted body hair is a nuisance. Shaving every day is time consuming, and waxing is painful. Maybe you're considering laser hair removal--the latest solution to getting rid of body hair for good.

Laser hair removal has been around for a while, but the market has exploded in recent years. Independent clinics and beauty salons are cropping up all across the country, offering such services at discounted prices--all from the tranquility of a spa-like setting.

It sounds tempting. But before you invest in the procedure, it's worth understanding its full spectrum of risks.

What could go wrong?

In the majority of cases, there are no complications with laser hair removal. However, if something goes wrong, it could result in severe burns or scars. In some cases, it could even lead to infection. And there is one reported case of a patient dying from an over-application of topical anesthesia.

What makes laser hair removal riskier still is the lack of federal regulation--and the highly varied state regulation--on laser removal practitioners. In many states, a non-physician may operate a laser without being licensed and without having received proper training. Such a scenario naturally increases the risk of mistakes. The number of medical malpractice lawsuits against non-physician practitioners as surged in recent years.

What you can do

If you're considering laser hair removal, it pays to do your homework on the clinic ahead of time. Check a clinic's ratings and customer reviews online. Call to make sure that a dermatologist or plastic surgeon will be conducting--or else supervising--the procedure. Ensure the clinic takes the necessary precautions. They should conduct an initial exam to verify you're a good candidate for treatment. They should also test the laser on a small area of skin--to make sure your skin reacts well--before spreading out onto larger areas.

If you suffer injury due to improper laser hair removal, it's important to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney immediately to understand your legal recourse.

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