When performed by a skilled professional, laser hair removal is typically a safe procedure, but the treatment’s side effects can include skin damage, bacterial infections and permanent scarring. However, it’s the use of skin-numbing products prior to the procedure that led the FDA to issue a public health advisory in 2009. The topical anesthetics lessen the pain of laser hair removal, but they can also be deadly, as was the case with 22-year-old Shiri Birg. In 2004, Birg applied the numbing gel as she’d been directed, but she had a seizure, lapsed into a coma and died eight days later from lethal brain damage.
If you’re considering using a topical anesthetic before laser hair removal, talk to a doctor first and check out the FDA’s safety guidelines.