rate of side effects- surveys

Does anyone know of an independant survey of side effects/complications rates for laser hair removal, especially segregated by practitioner, ie. drs derms, drs plastics, on-site dr supervision, off site dr supervision, non-dr practice, etc.

There are now news spots and articles that sensationalize the side effects of laser hair removal, most if not all promoted by doctors trying to protect the large market represented by laser hair removal. They tend to take the most agregious situations and suggest that is the norm. The most recent was a case in NY where a practioner was let off in handcuffs for impersonating a doctor, but the body of the article suggested the problem was a no doctor doing laser hair removal and that person should be put in jail for doing laser hair removal and not being a doctor. (fact is most laser hair removal is not done by the dr anyway but someone on their staff). The issue should be the proper training of the person doing the procedure and that person having an adequate medical background to understand and react to comlications, get a dr involved when needed, and highlight skin problems that are contraindications to using lasers so the client can be referred to their derm.

Our feed back in the marketplace is that even with drs who say they have on site supervision, most docs are not doing the laser hair removal procedure and are not on site while all procedures are taking place anyway. Plus many docs (even the luminaries in laser hair removal) don’t do the procedures themselves and don’t give any significant training to their techs who may or may not be licensed nurses.

The main issue should always be client care, doing no harm and providing great service at a fair price.

I think TRN makes some very good points.

I think the side efects are over-hyped sometimes. It seems like a lot of people worry too much about a little bit of scabbing. I would be more worried about spending a lot of money and find out I was being undertreated and all the hair was growing back because too low of a fluence was used.

My practitioner is not a doctor. She is a licensed electrologist and has had extensive training in laser, plus many years of experience. She does work with a dermatologist on site if any problems come up. There really is no substitute for experience.


The real issue with a cosmetic procedure like hair removal is that a client should never end up looking worse than when they started. Unfortunately, there are many unqualified people performing waxing, laser, electrolysis, etc. Many states do not regulate these procedures

I know that much of the current press on laser hair removal is a backlash to six years of breathless hype by the news media. While it’s true that trade groups of dermatologists and electrologists are working to get the word out that unqualified people are performing laser and injuring consumers, I feel that consumers need to understand the possible risks of laser, and the importance of finding a good practitioner.

Who is the best person to perform this procedure? Manufacturers and some practitioners and doctors argue that the procedure itself can be done by a technician, or recently, by the consumer at home, as long as the parameters have been set by a physician who has done an evaluation and prescribed the treatment parameters. It’s possible that we may see the advent of home-use laser in the next year. Is this safe? It’s a complicated question.

I think in the end that experience is important, but I know hair removal practitioners with lots of experience and not a lot of skill.

My advice at this time is to play it safe and get an evaluation by a dermatologist before starting a course of laser hair removal, even if you don’t use that dermatologist. Remember that doctors are salespeople, too, and that many of them are less knowledgeable about lasers that many hairtell readers. Some doctors are too busy or lazy to read more than the most basic overviews before selling laser treatments, so I certainly don’t hold doctors up as a paragon of reliability. However, if there’s a possibility that you hope to look a little better by removing hair and could walk out with permanent scars, it’s important to do your research.

Laser hair removal is a great option for some, when performed properly. There are a lot of people who should not be performing this, including some doctors. Side effects are fairly rare, but unti; they are eliminated, the possibility of permanent damage should be at the forefront of any consumer’s mind as he or she decides who will be performing their laser procedure.

Andrea – good response.

I would like to see if there are any surveys or studies on side effects out there. Would seem a good subject.

Skill and training of the technician whether doc or not is very important, but also is the care and concern for the client that the technician has. We’ve found that this is not a rote procedure and that each time a client is treated the technician need to think and reevaluate the tx parameters for things like sun exposure, efficacy from prior txs and ability of the client to handle the parameters.

Laser cos could do a better job of policing who they sell to, especially if they know the lasers are going somewhere where ther is no medical supervision! Plus typical training from laser cos is only 4 hrs even for docs. This just isn’t enough training even if you are a doc. Especially since usually the doc isn’t the one doing the procedure.

Our head nurses are under the medical supervision of a medical director in each center, go through a 17 day training center, plus are certified by the laser manufacturer. We make sure they have a care for the clients and not just a skill to do txs since this is both a science and an art and stuff happens:-)

From my experience (going for almost a year now) there is a 10%-15% reduction in my hair growth per treatment. The rest of the hair eventually comes back.

So, after 3 treatments over 9 months… at the end I have about a 50% reduction in hair growth. That’s using the LightSheer Diode Laser, starting at 28 fluence and incrementing by 2 each subsequent visit, which is at 3 month intervals.

I’ll be updating my laser page soon as I’m now on my 4th round of treatments.

Can’t wait for your updates, vulpes! For those of you who haven’t seen it, vulpes has an amazing results page up. Check it out!


[ November 08, 2002, 07:58 AM: Message edited by: Andrea ]