I wanted rid of thread veins, now I'm scarred for life – stop 'Cosmetic Cowboy Surgeons' Louise Siu's cosmetic laser treatment in 2007 left her with horrible scars
22:00 GMT, 23 March 2013
22:00 GMT, 23 March 2013
Cowboy surgery: Louise Siu's simple procedure went horribly wrong
Louise Siu has made her career as an actuary – a discipline that assesses financial risk. So when the 47-year-old decided to have cosmetic laser treatment in 2007, she made sure she did some careful research.
And it confirmed that the procedure – to get rid of thread veins around her nose – should be simple and safe.
She chose a London clinic that appeared to be reputable and her first treatment with the Yag laser was uneventful, leaving Louise pleased with the results. But her next appointment in January 2008 was not so straightforward.
A different nurse arrived to carry out the treatment and Louise noticed there were a far greater number of laser ‘shots’ to her nose.
‘It felt like upwards of three times more than I’d had during the previous appointment,’ she says.
‘I think back to it now and I wonder why I didn’t tell her to stop. But it all happened very quickly and I trusted the clinic.
‘When I got home that evening, it felt as if my face was on fire. I slept really badly that night and I had this hot, burning sensation around my nose.’ Louise realised that something was terribly wrong.
She went to work next day, but by lunchtime large blisters had begun to appear and she quickly returned to the clinic. She was told the injuries were superficial.
But over the following weeks, the blisters turned into unsightly scabs and she had to take time off work.
When the scabs came off, there were deep scars all around her nostrils. ‘I remember looking in the mirror and realising I had been scarred,’ she says. ‘I just started crying.
‘I cried for days – I just couldn’t believe this had happened to me.’
The clinic agreed to send her to a dermatologist, who confirmed she had suffered burns that had left her with ‘quite severe scarring’.
More pain was to come when the High Street clinic denied responsibility, saying that it was an unfortunate skin reaction.
In June 2009, Louise finally got lawyers involved. The clinic admitted negligence and she received 15,000 compensation. She has had treatment to repair the scars but her emotional recovery may take far longer.
‘It’s hard to get back on track. It all
brought me so low, especially the way the clinic behaved. I absolutely
regret having it done.’
Burned: The damage on Louise's nose from the
The Mail on Sunday is calling for anyone who carries out laser treatment to have a minimum level of training and to be registered with an independent regulator.
This would ensure that all staff know which setting the laser should be on and also how much the laser should be used in each session. This type of training and certification would reduce the risk of burns, such as those experienced by Louise.
The Government shocked medics in 2010 by deregulating certain types of medical lasers that are strong enough to cause serious harm if not used properly.
Today, anyone can carry out a laser treatment – they no longer have to be a healthcare professional – and their premises are no longer inspected.
According to Government estimates, the NHS spends 2 million a year fixing botched laser operations. But the problem is set to get worse as more patients opt to have the quick-fix beauty treatment.
A survey in 2008 estimated that six million women were considering laser therapy and 700,000 had already had it. But the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons says there are at least 4,000 reports of adverse events following laser treatments every year.