Clinical negligence team warn of dangers of skin-tightening treatments

Posted: 17/04/2014

As more and more women are starting to have laser skin-tightening procedures to keep their skin looking young and firm, the Penningtons Manches clinical negligence offers some guidance on the different procedures and their potential side effects.

There are a number of different types of laser and radiofrequency skin treatments, each using different techniques, but achieving similar results. Each type of procedure has its own unique benefits but also its own complications. The three main systems used by the cosmetic surgery profession stimulate collagen and/or elastin production. Collagen and elastin are both involved in the renewal of skin cells and, therefore, stimulating production or growth can help to maintain youthful and tighter skin.

One system commonly provided uses microscopic lasers, targeting the layers of skin just under the surface and making tiny wounds that trigger the production of elastin and collagen to renew skin cells. Another system uses an infrared laser which penetrates the layers of skin and heats them up, with the objective of contracting existing collagen to trigger new collagen growth. The third system uses radiofrequency instead of lasers and uses heat to stimulate collagen growth.

The not so welcome side effects for these skin-tightening procedures can include redness, swelling, blistering and bruising. There are also more serious side effects which include burns, skin indentations, subcutaneous fat loss, permanent scarring, changes to pigmentation, open sores and infections.

Sarah Gubbins, associate solicitor in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches, says: ‘We have received enquiries about complications caused by laser and radiofrequency skin-tightening treatments and emphasise that it is important for people to be fully aware of the associated risks and complications before proceeding with this type of treatment. Potential patients should be aware of how damage can be caused, for example by using one of the machines on a setting that is too hot, or for too long, or repeatedly over the same area. In addition, there are numerous, and some unexpected, contra-indications to having skin-tightening treatments which should be carefully considered to ensure that the risk of complications is minimised.

“While these procedures may seem like the easy option compared to a full surgical face lift, even ’non-invasive’ treatments can have serious side effects and, if used on the face, can have a lasting impact, often requiring ongoing treatment such as fillers to correct the damage that has been caused. We would urge anyone considering this type of treatment to seek an experienced and reputable professional and to do their research on the types of procedure available and the associated risks of each one. Anyone pursuing skin-tightening treatment should ensure that the treating practitioner employs all the necessary safety procedures and that the relevant checks are in place before proceeding. As a patient, the right knowledge will help you to make better choices.”

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