Laser hair removal dangers

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Laser hair removal -- it's now the 2nd most popular outpatient procedure in the country, and it's not cheap. The problem is, in Virginia, almost anybody can perform this service. And - in the wrong hands, a laser can be a dangerous piece of equipment.

We're fast approaching time of year when we wear the fewest amount of clothes. And although it may be uncomfortable to talk about - it's also a time when we become more self conscious about body hair.

That's why these $99 groupon, or living social offers, seem so attractive, but the money you save maybe no bargain at all, if the person operating the laser doesn't know what they're doing.

Check out these legs, backs, bellies, thighs, chest, even bikini areas - all disfigured, and in some cases permanently, by laser hair removal.

Anne Warren got one of those $99 specials for a Chesterfield Day Spa.

"It hurt a lot and it continued to burn afterward. And I was like - this is not good. And when I looked in the mirror, I actually had blisters across the top of my lip," she said.

"Who wouldn't want half off a service that expensive?" asked Trisha Ip.

Trisha Ip, in the West End, also bit on one of those living social offers to get her legs done. Such a deal, until...

"My skin had a terrible reaction. It erupted," Trisha said. "I was scared it was burns, because it looked like burns - and ended up having to see a dermatologist to see what it was and get some relief."

Dr. Suzanne Kitces Peck knows what she's doing.  She's an M.D. and a board certified dermatologist. The problem is - state regulations are such that almost anybody, with very limited training, can be certified to operate one of these lasers. The cost is a little higher here, than most day-spas, but as Dr. Peck points out - you get what you pay for.

"Even in the best laser hands, there's always risks associated with it, but in the wrong hands there can be some devastating, permanent risks associated with using this machine," Dr. Peck explained.

As for Trisha Ip - there will be no more bargain hunting. She's done with laser hair removal.

"I got very lucky not to get scarred. I don't know what would happen next time," Trisha said.

If you decide to have laser hair removal at someplace "other" than the office of a board certified dermatologist --- ask the spa if the laser technicians are working under the direct supervision of a doctor, physician's assistant, or a registered nurse.

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