Personal Injury

Woman left with facial scar after being burnt at beauty salon during laser treatment calls for improved industry regulation

Laser beauty treatment
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Mobeena Salim

Senior Solicitor

6 min read time

A woman who had laser treatment at a local beauty salon and was left with burns on her face and hands now has to apply ‘camouflage make-up’ to hide the scarring.

She made an appointment at the Yorkshire business, which she had used before, for treatment to reduce the appearance of thread veins.

But she says, it left her with “weeping and crusty burns” and a face so swollen she didn’t recognise herself. Three years on and she now lives with an inch long scar on her face.

The mother, who wishes to remain anonymous, says she wants to tell her story so others will think twice about agreeing to cosmetic treatments in an industry which, she says, is not properly regulated.

The woman said she had had the same procedure several years earlier which had been carried out in an NHS hospital by a consultant dermatologist and paid for privately.

“I saw that my local salon was advertising the laser treatment on social media, and it was two or three times less expensive than what I had paid. So, I thought about it and then booked a consultation. I had seen good results before and wore less makeup afterwards, so I was keen to do it again.

“I did some research, I asked how qualified she was to use the equipment and was assured. I should have known better; I put my trust in them a little too much. Really, lasers should only be handled by experts,” she said.

Along with the pain there was a smell of burning

Facial scar following laser treatment
The woman was left with a facial scar.

When the woman returned for her 30-minute treatment in the summer of 2019 she was told she could expect some pain, “like an elastic band twanged on my skin,” she recalled.

She said she felt “uncomfortable” but thought this was normal as the salon had warned her of this.

“No patch test was carried out and it was painful, I’m quite tough and it really hurt,” she said.

The woman says along with the pain there was a smell of burning but the laser treatment was not paused.

“I went home and in the next few hours my hands and face blistered, my eyes puffed up, my face was swollen, I didn’t look like me.

“When I looked in the mirror I was horrified, I thought, what on earth have I done?”

The woman, who has healthcare experience, knew she had to keep the skin cool and used cold compresses, “but the next day I was shocked. The blisters and crusts were weeping. I looked horrendous and didn’t want to be seen in public,” she said.

Her GP confirmed she had suffered burns and could be left with permanent scars. She says it took up to three weeks for the scabs to heal and she also experienced a loss of sensation in her face.

She says she decided to take legal action because her GP suggested it may prevent the injury happening to others.

‘A facial scar can have debilitating consequences for anyone’

The woman contacted Hudgell Solicitors after speaking to other firms, “but they weren’t interested as they told me it was a minor claim, but it wasn’t quite as minor as they had led me to believe,” she said.

In an out of court settlement our client was awarded £26,000 damages after the salon admitted liability.

Hudgell Solicitors’ personal injury solicitor Mobeena Salim, who represented the woman said: “My client made an appointment at her local salon for a treatment that she thought would make her look better and feel better and she was assured staff were well qualified and the treatment was safe.

“But that wasn’t the case. She left that salon with burns; the injury has had a profound effect on her wellbeing and how she sees herself. A facial scar can have debilitating consequences for anyone, and she now has to use camouflage make-up to hide it.

“None of this was of any fault of her own. The salon has in place its public liability insurance for when things go wrong and it is quite right that when a customer is injured or comes to harm as a result of any treatment that they are fully compensated and, importantly, that it is recognised the salon is at fault.”

‘It has had a great effect on my self-image’

Hudgells claimed that the beauty salon had used or permitted the use of defective and dangerous machines, that it had failed to institute or enforce any or any adequate system of quality control, or to inspect, check or test the machine. It had also failed to warn of the risks of an adverse reaction to the procedure and failed to conduct a patch test.

“I would not normally go down this route,” the woman said, “I felt guilty at first because I hadn’t lost a leg or anything, but it has had a great effect on my self-image and I thought if I had done something like that, harmed another person, I would have been horrified.

“In the long term I have to live with this facial scar, I can’t easily hide it, it’s very visible and it has affected me mentally and socially.

“The legal process was simple, you are guided by experts like Mobeena, who absolutely kept me informed at every stage,” she said.

The woman believes the beauty industry should be better regulated, “An NVQ qualification is not suitable if you are using a laser, people need to be properly trained and businesses need to be inspected and regulated. The situation is that medical professionals using them must be registered but beauty therapists don’t.”

The current UK Government regulations state:

  • Practitioners who use Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), class 3B, or class 4 lasers in England MAY have to register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
  • Registered medical practitioners who use IPL or lasers to treat disease, disorder, or injury MUST register with the CQC.
  • Practitioners who use IPL or lasers for exclusively cosmetic purposes DON’T have to register with the CQC, even if they are registered medical practitioners.
  • SOME local councils in England also require all practitioners who use IPL and lasers to register with them. Check with your local council to find out if you need to register.

Hairdresser and Beauty Therapy Compensation Claims

When visiting a hairdressers or beauticians, you should always expect professional treatment and care from specialists to make sure you look and feel your best.

Our team of experts has experience in dealing with a wide range of hair and beauty therapy claims. There is a time limit to make a claim, however, so it’s best to act as quickly as possible. Normally you have three years from the date of your treatment or from the date you realised your condition was a result of your treatment.

Read more: Beauty and Hairdressing Claims

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