I had a treatment for laser hair removal a yesterday and have a burn. Is this permanent?

I had a treatment for laser hair removal a yesterday and am very worried i may be permanently scared or discoloured. I guess the Alexandrite laser was set at too high! I have attached a picture and would love to get some advice on how bad the damage is and what i can do to get back to normal if possible. Unfortunately it seems anyone with or without training can perform the treatment. I wish i knew this before and hope I am not damaged for life.

Doctor Answers 14

Should go away

Unfortunatley burns can part of the risk of laser hair removal. Your burns seem to appear very superficial which leads me to believe that they will heal pretty well in time. It is very important that you and your Dr. (or esthetician or whom ever is treating you..) discuss all your history to determine your "fitzpatrick scale" skin type so your settings are correct. If you have even a slight slight suntan or sunburn prior to treatment it greatly increases your chances of getting burned. It is important that you keep aquaphor or a prescription called biafine on the burns so they heal properly. Please limit your sun exposure. I do believe in time you will be just fine.

Virginia Beach Dermatologist
4.7 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Sorry you got burnt, but these appear superficial and you should heal fine

It is unfortunate that you got burnt in some areas, but it does happen and is variable as to whom, when, and where it happens.

I didn't see any blistering in your picture, but I did see one area spot where the burn is more severe and the crust is not present. This spot may leave a slight discoloration that may or may not be permanent. The other areas should do very well provided that you do not touch the crusts and you leave them on as long as possible.

I would apply antibiotic ointment to these areas as much as possible and stay out of the sun. Expect dark areas, or possibly lighter areas, to be present after the crusts fall off. Assuming that you healed well, it will just take time for the areas to get back to your normal skin color.

So, you will do well if you take care of them well. Use the ointment, stay out of sun, and protect the crusts! Most important of all, give it time. Good luck!

Don Mehrabi, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Your Laser Hair Removal burns may not be permanent

Hi RS.

The good news is that the burns that you have do not look severe enough to cause permanent scarring. It looks like you have olive skin and with this skin type you may have some dark marks for a period of time, but these will be lessened if you stay our of the sun and use bleaching cream (hydroquinone) after the area is healed.

For right now, you should immediately return the person that performed this procedure to review your situation. If they do not have a product to aid in healing, look for antibacterial creams at your local pharmacy.

Finally, the Alexandrite laser is designed for lighter skin types so if you do have an olive complexion (and after you are healed) look for a physician that uses a Lumenis Lightsheer. It will have less risk with the same results. Good luck.

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Laser Hair Removal

Skin irritation. Temporary discomfort, redness and swelling are possible after laser hair removal. Laser hair removal does take time and commitment- 6-8 treatments are recommended for laser hair removal treatments. 

Chaitali Nangrani, MD
The Woodlands Family Physician
4.3 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

LASER hair burn

LASER hair burns vary severity from mild to severe.  Many mild laser hair burns often respond with solely supportive treatments and topicals.  Deeper burns may require more extensive treatments including possible debriding and more aggressive treatments including possible laser treatments to treat the burned area.

Anil R. Shah, MD
Chicago Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 162 reviews

Burns after lhr

Burns can happen and you are at a higher risk when the treatment is performed by an inexperienced aesthetician. The discoloration can sometimes be permanent but yours don't appear to be so.

Michael Constantin Gartner, DO
Paramus Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 137 reviews

Laser hair removal burns

Unfortunately this can be a common side effect of lasers. It is important to go to a fully trained professional. Burns can leave permanent scars that may fade with time. Prior to getting a laser treatment done make sure your technician performs a test patch. On darker skin types test patches should be done several weeks prior to treatment to ensure this does not happen again. Sorry to hear about your experience.

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 176 reviews

Burns from LASER Hair removal

During LASER hair treatment, burn can happen in few patients & this is a normal side effect. Shaving the area, proper cooling & right energy selection according to hair & skin type is the key.

I think that your spots will clear slowly & will match to your surrounding skin soon.

See your physician for proper assessment & better management.

-"Dr. M. Khawar Nazir"

M. Khawar Nazir, MBBS, MS(Derm)
Pakistan Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Laser Hair Removal Safety

Laser Hair Removal Everything You Need to Know for Safe Effective, Laser hair Removal Blue Water Spa has performed more than 100,000 laser hair removal procedures. The lasers Blue Water Spa uses have been evaluated as safest and most effective in medical journals. Laser services as Blue Water Spa are never sold in packages, we offer pay as you go treatments. Blue Water Spa is owned and operated by plastic surgeon, Michael Law MD
1) Laser Hair Removal should only be performed in a medical office A medical office means the facility is owned and operated by a physician who is on site. Lasers are medical devices and they require physician oversight as per the NC Medical Board.
2) No single laser works effectively on all skin types. The Alexandrite laser has been evaluated as the most effective laser for light to medium skin types and the long pulsed nd yag has been evaluated in medical journals as safest and most effective for darker or tanned skin. If the correct laser is not used, the treatment won't work, and it could possibly mean permanent discoloration to the skin
3) NEVER Sign up for a laser "series" or package People respond to lasers differently. Multiple treatments are required for complete clearance, but not everyone requires the same number of treatments. A laser center confident with their lasers, providers, and protocols will be confident that you will come back for laser treatments without asking you to pay up front
4) Laser hair removal results cannot be guaranteed Even medical offices that perform thousands of laser treatments each month with outstanding outcomes cannot guarantee results, because physicians are prohibited from offering guaranteed results for medical procedures. If a guarantee is offered for a medical procedure, it should be brought to the attention of the medical board.
5) IPL is not a laser. And it doesn???t work for hair removal There has never been a peer reviewed medical study that determined IPL to be more effective for hair removal than lasers. Research has shown that IPL can permanently damage the skin
6) Size matters The larger the spot size, the deeper the laser can penetrate, allowing the laser energy to disable even the deepest root of unwanted hair. A large (18 mm) spot size also makes for a much faster and effective treatment.
7) The Cooling device makes all the difference in a comfortable treatment A Dynamic Cooling device (DCD) is the only way to provide consistent cooling to the skin, . A DCD sprays cryogen immediately prior to the laser to cool and protect the skin for the most comfortable treatment
8) Always schedule a complimentary consultation - and don't pay up front The first step in the consultation process is being assessed and given medical clearance by a Nurse Practitioner or PA to be sure you are a good candidate for laser hair removal, and to determine which laser frequency will provide best results for you. A complimentary test spot should be available if you wish You should never feel pressured to schedule a service, pay up front, or worst of all get financial "pre- approval" for packages that may not be right for you. Do not pre-pay during your consultation. Reputable laser centers don't offer specials available only the day of your consultation, not do they
9) Always check the NC medical board website to learn about the physician who owns and operates the facility There should never be any hesitation about providing the name and specialty of the physician who owns and operates the practice .
10) Smoke evacuators ensure safety and a more pleasant treatment for patients and providers Medical studies have demonstrated that laser hair removal releases potentially harmful toxins into the air. The plume, or smoke, created by laser hair removal could be dangerous to both patients and providers. The particle size of the smelly black smoke is so small that masks cannot prevent inhalation of the potentially toxic plume . Confirm that smoke evacuators are in use before receiving a treatment. Laser hair removal can be a wonderful, life changing experience for men and women. It can be performed on virtually any area of the body or face It can permanently eliminate hair that causes embarrassment and even discomfort. Between laser sessions, the right laser will keep skin smooth for weeks at a time. Laser hair removal is a medical treatment. Do your research about who you are trusting with your health and well-being

.Laser Hair Removal in Raleigh, North Carolina - Medical Board Guidelines
Article by Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
Laser Hair Removal and Laser Tattoo Removal
The North Carolina Medical Board continues to receive questions regarding laser cosmetic procedures, specifically laser hair removal and laser tattoo removal. The Board offers this document as guidance to physicians and non-physicians who have questions.
This guidance document describes the Board’s position that: (1) the use of a laser for hair removal or tattoo removal constitutes surgery and thus the practice of medicine; (2) FDA-approved laser devices used for hair removal or tattoo removal must be owned by a physician to avoid the unauthorized practice of medicine; (3) any patient treated with an FDA-approved laser device should first be examined by a physician; (4) any person that operates a laser for hair removal or tattoo removal must be a physician or supervised by a physician; and (5) it is a violation of North Carolina law for persons other than licensees of this Board to engage in the practice of medicine. However, notwithstanding these requirements, there are straightforward ways in which physicians can work with non-physicians (and businesses owned by non-physicians) that wish to be involved in laser hair removal or tattoo removal.
The following are some frequently asked questions the Board receives from licensed healthcare practitioners and other individuals regarding laser hair removal or tattoo removal services.
1) Who may operate the laser during a laser hair removal or laser tattoo removal procedure? Response:
A physician may operate lasers that are used for hair and tattoo removal, if the physician is trained and qualified to use that particular laser. And, any individual designated by a physician as having adequate training and experience may operate a medical laser while working under a physician’s supervision. A supervising physician should assure herself/himself that a non- physician is adequately trained, competent and experienced to use a medical laser safely before the physician delegates this task to the non-physician. By delegating the task of using a medical laser to a non-physician, the supervising physician is attesting to the Board and the public that the non-physician is competent to use the medical laser safely.
In addition electrologists who are licensed as laser hair practitioners pursuant to the Electrolysis Practice Act, N.C. Gen. Stat. §88A-11.1, may perform laser hair removal (but not tattoo removal) under the supervision of a physician.
2) What are the supervising physician’s responsibilities when supervising laser hair and tattoo removal procedures?
The Board expects any physician who provides supervision to::
 Provide adequate oversight of licensed and non-licensed personnel both before and after the procedure is performed.
 Ensure that each patient is examined by a physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner prior to receiving the first laser hair or tattoo removal treatment and at other times as medically indicated.
 Ensure that the examination includes a history and a focused physical examination.  If prescription medications, such as topical anesthetics, are used, to follow the guidelines
set forth in the Board’s Position Statement titled “Contact with Patients Before
Prescribing.”  If medication is prescribed or dispensed in connection with laser hair or tattoo removal,
assure the patient receives thorough instructions on the safe use or application of the
medication.  Be on site or readily available to the person actually performing the procedure. “Readily
available” will depend on a variety of factors. Those factors include the specific types of procedures and equipment used; the level of training of the persons performing the procedure; the level and type of licensure, if any, of the persons performing the procedure; the use of topical anesthetics; the quality of written protocols for the performance of the procedure; the frequency, quality and type of ongoing education of those performing the procedures; and any other quality assurance measures in place.
 Be able to respond quickly to patient emergencies and questions by those performing the procedures.
3) What are the consequences should a physician fail to provide proper supervision of an individual operating a medical laser or otherwise provide care not in accordance with acceptable and prevailing standards of medical practice when it comes to laser hair or tattoo removal procedures?
If a physician fails to provide proper supervision of a non-physician operating a laser or that a physician provided substandard care in the provision of laser hair or tattoo removal services, then the Board may invoke its investigative and disciplinary powers. The board investigates all complaints of inappropriate care and allegations of violations of the Medical Practice Act. After an investigation, if the Board has probable cause to believe that a violation of the Medical Practice Act has occurred, the Board may take private or public action, including disciplinary action against a licensee. Based on the facts and circumstances of each case, the Board may issue a private letter of concern, ask the licensee to appear for an investigative interview before the Board, issue a non-disciplinary public letter of concern or take some form of disciplinary action. Disciplinary actions can range from a reprimand up to suspension or revocation of a license. Furthermore, all disciplinary actions may be accompanied by a fine.
Who may own a practice that provides laser hair removal and/or laser tattoo removal services?
Because the Board considers laser surgery such as laser hair and tattoo removal to be the practice of medicine, only an individual licensed to practice medicine or perform medical acts, tasks and functions or licensed as a laser hair practitioner may own a practice that provides laser hair and/or tattoo removal services. A physician may own such a practice, and a physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or electrologist licensed as a laser hair practitioner practicing under a physician’s supervision may own such a practice. Furthermore, a combination of physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 55B-14(c) may own a medical practice that provides laser cosmetic services.
May someone other than a physician, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or electrologist licensed as a laser hair practitioner own a business that provides laser hair or tattoo removal services?
No. As stated above, the Board considers laser surgery such as laser hair and tattoo removal to be the practice of medicine. Only an individual licensed to practice medicine and to perform medical acts, tasks and functions may own a business that provides medical services. An individual who is sufficiently trained and qualified to operate a medical laser may work at a medical practice as an employee and operate a laser under the supervision of a physician in a manner consistent with the expectations of the Board as set out in the Board’s Laser Surgery Position Statement.
If someone not licensed or approved by the Board already owns and operates a business providing laser hair or tattoo removal, how can the owner modify the business to avoid the unlicensed practice of medicine?
This process has three components:
 Sale of laser practice: Since only physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners (“licensed practitioners”) are authorized to own a medical laser, the unlicensed non- physician owner of the laser could consider selling the laser to a licensed practitioner who has prescriptive authority. (The unlicensed owner could also sell the entire practice to a licensed practitioner.)
 Role of non-licensed practitioner: What often occurs in this situation is that the unlicensed person enters into a Management Services Contract with a licensed
practitioner who has purchased the medical laser (or the entire practice). The licensed practitioner is permitted to compensate the unlicensed person for management services in the form or managing the office, performing billing services, marketing and advertising the practice or other activities that do not constitute the practice of medicine.
 Compensation arrangements: In addition, the licensed practitioner could compensate the unlicensed person as an employee or contractor actually performing laser hair or tattoo removal under the supervision of a physician (assuming that the non-licensee has adequate training and skills). However, a licensed practitioner would not be permitted to split fees with the unlicensed person on a per-procedure or percentage basis for medical services provided. Instead, the licensed practitioner would need to compensate the unlicensed person based on a salary or hourly wage to avoid improper fee splitting.
7) What are some of the possible consequences should the Board learn that someone is performing laser hair or tattoo removal services without appropriate supervision by a physician?
Because the Board considers laser hair removal to be surgery and thus the practice of medicine, only a physician or individual appropriately supervised by a physician (including a laser hair practitioner) may use a medical laser to perform hair removal. Therefore, in the Board’s view, an unlicensed and unsupervised person performing laser hair removal would constitute the unlicensed practice of medicine. The unlicensed practice of medicine is a crime in North Carolina pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-18(a). Moreover, performing laser hair removal without a license to practice as a laser hair practitioner constitutes a Class I felony pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 88A-4. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-14.12 and N.C. Gen Stat. § 88A-22 empower the Medical Board and the State Board of Electrolysis Examiners to seek injunctions in civil Superior Court to enjoin unlicensed individuals from practicing medicine or performing laser hair removal. Furthermore, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-18 authorizes the Medical Board to report allegations of unlicensed practice to the local district attorney where the violation is alleged to have occurred for possible investigation and prosecution.
Because the Board also considers laser tattoo removal to be surgery and thus the practice of medicine, only an individual licensed to practice medicine or a person supervised by a physician may use a medical laser to perform tattoo removal.
Therefore, in the Board’s view, an unlicensed and unsupervised person performing laser tattoo removal would constitute the unlicensed practice of medicine as described above with regard to laser hair removal.
If you have additional questions, please feel free to call the North Carolina Medical Board at (919) 326-1100 or the North Carolina Board of Electrolysis Examiners at 336-856-1010.

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 118 reviews

Burns From Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal can cause burns on the skin for various reasons. Fortunately they are usually superficial and rarely cause scarring. Hydroquinone cream may help if there is increased pigmentation that persists. Be careful to use a good sunscreen to protect the new skin from developing excess pigmentation.

Mitchell Schwartz, MD
South Burlington Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.