An Auckland woman’s skin was burnt during a laser hair removal session. Photo / Supplied
A beauty clinic has been told to apologise and consider giving its staff longer breaks after a rushed therapist left a hair removal laser on the wrong setting, burning a woman’s face.
The woman drove home holding an ice glove to her burned face following the laser treatment in January 2021, after which she complained to the Health and Disability Commissioner [HDC].
She was unable to work the next day and sought medical advice on the fourth day.
The incident happened at Laser Clinics New Zealand in Takapuna, Auckland.
The woman and the therapist involved were not identified in the report of Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Vanessa Caldwell.
Caldwell’s report said the client booked lip and chin hair laser removal but then requested a full-face treatment, which takes longer.
The therapist was “in a rush between clients” and forgot to check whether the machine had been switched to the correct settings.
The therapist began the treatment but once she finished an area under the woman’s jaw, noticed the skin turning red.
She reduced the settings and continued but remembers hearing a “snapping” sound when she had finished the right cheek.
By the time the therapist realised the wrong setting was used, the client’s face had already been burned.
Three days after the treatment, the woman sent the HDC a photograph with at least nine dark brown or purple coloured circular patches under the jawline.
She said she suffered for some time afterward and still had keloid, or raised, scars on her face.
Caldwell found that the therapist and the clinic both breached the Code of Health and Disability Consumers’ Rights.
She said that the therapist did so by using the wrong settings and responding inappropriately to the burns, and the clinic by “misleading the consumer and avoiding accountability” in its follow-up response to her.
“Adverse comment was made about the working environment of the laser clinic, which contributed to the poor outcome suffered by the patient,” the report said.
Caldwell recommended that both the therapist and the clinic provide a written apology to the woman.
She recommended the clinic consider whether longer breaks for its staff throughout the day would prevent stress on therapists.
The therapist told the HDC she was no longer working at the clinic, or in the industry. Caldwell recommended further training for the therapist if she did return.
The clinic refunded the costs of the treatment.