A WOMAN has spoken out after a laser hair removal treatment left her with agonising ''chessboard'' burns on her face and neck.
Thobe Moyo, 38, suffered the mishap after booking her yearly appointment.
Thobe, who suffers from excess hair growth due to her polycystic ovaries syndrome – PCOS – decided to spend £13 on the removal in September 2023.
She had previously had the treatment eight times and so believed she knew ''what to expect'' from the session.
After a short debrief, Thobe said she was taken into a room with who she believed was the receptionist.
The trainee began to remove hair on the left side of Thobe's neck which caused an ''intense and unfamiliar burning sensation''.
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After the treatment, Thobe was shown her skin in a mirror which revealed dark squares covering her neck and jawline.
Despite querying the treatment, Thobe was still required to pay for the hair removal.
Thobe, a consultant from Cape Town, South Africa, said: "My neck is burnt to a crisp.
Burnt to a crisp
"I've got dark rectangles along my whole neck.
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"I'm so anxious to leave the house.
"I just wanted to treat my symptoms but now I wish I never went."
Thobe, a graduate of the University of Capetown, started to grow facial hair when she hit puberty at the age of 18.
As a student, she went to the Medical Centre in Cape Town took her and she was diagnosed with PCOS, a condition which causes irregular periods and hirsutism, causing facial hair growth.
Thobe said: "I hated shaving my face.
''I had to shave once a day before I found out about this other treatment. I was a young woman that needed razors for my face.
"I looked for anything that could help."
The consultant discovered laser hair removal after graduating when a friend recommended it to help with her symptoms.
She could finally stop shaving
She was left delighted with the results of the treatment and stopped shaving every morning.
Thobe said: "The appointment was smooth and fairly cheap.
"All prices have differed, but it's worth it. My facial hair wouldn't grow back for months.
"There was a slight burn, but it cools down fairly fast."
In June 2020, Thobe started remote working as a consultant from her laptop.
While travelling and staying in Cape Town, Thobe's facial hair began to grow back, so she booked an appointment at a local laser saloon after reading reviews online.
Such a cheap procedure – what could go wrong?
Thobe booked a lower face hair laser hair removal for £13 on September 15.
On arrival, she advised that her skin would be left with a slight redness after the procedure and would require a cold compress.
Thobe said: "Everything seemed normal.
"They took my information and explained it all to me.
''But within minutes I noticed a zapping feeling and felt like my skin was being burnt.
''I didn't want to complain as I assumed they'd know what they were doing.
"Although I did raise my concerns with it feeling very intense.
"They said it was normal and fiddled with the laser machine, thankfully after that it wasn't as painful.''
But afterwards, when she looked in the mirror, Thobe was shocked to see a pattern of dark rectangles all over her skin.
"I was in complete shock,'' she said. "I knew it wasn't normal, my skin had been burned.
''They brushed it off and asked when I would be booking my next appointment.
Thobe was upset with their mistake but was reassured it would only require a cold compress and some aftercare.
A month later her skin is still badly marked, although the dark rectangles are ''slowly scabbing over''.
As an avid swimmer, she hasn't been able to swim in weeks, and hasn't met up with her friends.
After complaining, Thobe has been sent a formal apology and a pot of Aloe Vera for the burns.
She said: "I've been to over 10 appointments for my hair removal.
"I've never been left burned or scarred.
"An apology and a pot of Aloe Vera does not take away the damage they've caused.
"People are asking 'what the hell happened to your face!'
"I've had to cover my face with scars.
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LASER HAIR REMOVAL – THE RISKS
Laser hair removal may have side effects, it has limitations, and it can be expensive.
Laser hair removal is safe, but it can occasionally cause side effects, such as pain and discomfort, and red skin that may last for some time.
It may also not be suitable for everyone, including pregnant women and people with certain skin types.
There's no evidence to suggest that laser hair removal causes skin cancer.
It's important to make sure the person doing your laser hair removal is experienced and suitably qualified.
Check they're on a register to show they meet set standards in training, skill and insurance.
Avoid practitioners who have only completed a short training course.
Laser hair removal works better on people with pale skin and dark hair.
It's not as effective on tanned skin or hair that's been bleached by the sun. If you've got a tan you'll need to let it fade before having treatment.
Rarely, laser hair removal can result in:
- pain, discomfort or tenderness
- red skin that may last for some time
- crusting, blistering, bruising or swelling of your skin
- lightening or darkening of your skin
- burns from the laser's heat
- bacterial infections
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