Safety checks to consider before getting cosmetic laser treatments

Cosmetic lasers can be used for wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, rosacea, and hair removal.

However, if used the wrong way, they can burn and permanently damage the skin.

Dawn Powell had almost flawless skin but was eager to diminish rosacea-like redness. After going to a dermatologist for a few visits, she put her trust in them to use a laser to reduce the redness.

Unfortunately, she suffered terrible consequences. Her skin was damaged so badly, her face was covered in circular-shaped burns.

“A lot of doctors I’ve talked to said they should’ve stopped right then and there,” Powell said.

After that traumatic experience, she went to plastic surgeon Dr. Mirwat Sami for corrective treatment.

“Not everything can be treated. There are times I have to tell patients, ‘You can’t use this laser, as much as I would love to, I can’t use this on you because I know that you would have consequences,’” Dr. Sami explained. “Hyperpigmentation, scarring, you turn an aesthetic procedure into a medical complication.”

Here’s what she says should happen for the safest experience:

1. Go to a board-certified physician. Find one here: Board Certified Physicians

2. Consult with the doctor before the day of the treatment

3. Have a spot of skin checked days before the procedure

“If we’re ever unsure, we’ll do a spot treatment, and I’ve had so many patients come in and they told me, ‘Well, I get this laser all the time, my doctor, or my Med Spa doesn’t spot check,’” Dr. Sami said. “It is our job at the end of the day to find the right laser treatment for the right patient. That comes from knowledge of the laser, what it can do and what harm it can cause, and that comes from having experience with skin types.”

Powell had laser treatments done in the past and got a recommendation from a friend before going to the doctor who hurt her appearance.

Now, she wishes she had not assumed she knew what she was getting herself into and asked these questions...

“Ask what kind of laser it is, how many times has that doctor done that laser? Ask what was the best scenario, [and] what’s the worst?” Powell said.

In the end, Dr. Sami thinks the wrong type of laser might have been used on Powell. Even though some redness after a procedure is normal, Sami said if skin instantly turns red during the treatment, the laser treatment should end immediately.

Powell is now using additional cosmetic treatments to try and reverse the complications.