Laser burns can result from various cosmetic treatments, such as laser hair removal and laser resurfacing. Determining whether a laser burn is really a burn or simply a part of the treatment process can be complex. Learn more below.

What does a laser burn look like?

A laser burn can be swollen and painful. If you have a laser burn, you might see:

  • Bright red or purple skin
  • Rectangular or circular markings consistent with the laser used
  • Blisters or crusting
  • Swollen purple rings

Is it really a burn?

What many people think are burns from laser treatments are actually not burns at all. When a person has an ablative facial laser treatment (i.e., facial resurfacing), the intent is to destroy the outer layer of skin, the epidermis, so new healthy skin can grow in its place.

This will result in raw skin that is temporarily painful, swollen, and itchy. It will look and act like a burn. It may also ooze a yellow liquid. This raw skin is the intended result, as the removal of the outer layer of skin is the goal of an ablative facial laser treatment.

The professional who performed your procedure should tell you whether what you are seeing is normal.

Note: The treatment for an ablative facial laser treatment is similar to that for a burn. The medical professional will apply a thick layer of ointment to your face, and might use a dressing to cover the treated area. You should resist the temptation to touch your face as it heals, to avoid causing scars.

How can I tell if it is a burn?

Sometimes things can go wrong when a person has a laser treatment. While qualified professionals are usually the ones who perform ablative facial laser treatments, this is not always the case. Laser hair removal is a popular cosmetic laser treatment performed by many people who are not licensed medical professionals.

If you have suffered a laser burn, you might feel:

  • Very hot skin after the procedure has ended (it is normal for the skin to feel hot during the procedure; however, it should cool down rather quickly afterwards.)
  • Burning and pain at the procedure site
  • Swelling
  • Itching

It is important to note that the symptoms of some common side effects of laser hair removal mirror those of burns. Skin irritation (e.g., redness, swelling, pain) is one of the most common side effects of laser hair removal. These symptoms should subside within a few hours. If they do not, you may actually have a burn.

If you believe you have a serious burn, you should get medical attention. If the irritation or burn is superficial, involves a small area, does not have blisters, and is not on your face, you might be able to treat it at home, as you would a typical first-degree burn.

There is no harm, however, in getting an evaluation for any suspected laser treatment burn. If your laser treatment skin irritation or possible burn (wherever located on your body) is extensive, very serious, or painful, get professional medical attention right away.

Why are laser treatments used?

There are two main categories of laser treatments: surgical and cosmetic.

Surgeons often use lasers instead of a scalpel to perform intricate types of surgery, including:

  • Eye surgery to correct vision
  • Eye surgery to repair tears to the retina or treat other conditions
  • Oral and dental surgery to treat conditions like gingivitis
  • Surgery in the gastro-intestinal tract for cancer and other conditions
  • Surgery of the foot or ankle
  • Vascular surgery
  • Many other types of surgery throughout the body

Cosmetologists also user lasers for many cosmetic purposes, including:

  • Treatment of wrinkles, age spots, and sun-damaged skin
  • Tattoo removal
  • Telangiectasia, i.e., spider vein treatment
  • Treatment of scars from acne, chickenpox, or injuries
  • Removal of blemishes

What should I expect from a laser burn?

Depending on the severity of your burn, it may go away in a few days or it might scar and lead to complications. If you went to the doctor for your laser burn, make sure you follow all your doctor’s orders to lessen the possibility of scarring or complications. Make sure you cover up your burn whenever you will be in the sun as sunlight can cause a permanent darkening of your scar.

Continually monitor your burn to ensure it has not worsened or become infected.

Can I recover compensation for my laser burns?

If your laser burn resulted from another party’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact our legal referral specialists for assistance connecting with a lawyer who can help you if you have a burn that was not your fault. Call us at 844-549-8774 today.