By Tara Rasmus, Refinery29
Will laser hair removal be the death of us all? Okay, maybe that's a tad melodramatic, but according to a recent report by dermatologist Dr. Gary S. Chuang of Tufts Medical Center in Boston, the preliminary results of a study he conducted link in-office lasers to airborne toxins.
Chuang decided to investigate the dangers of the procedure after becoming continually alarmed by the black smoke plumes that he was exposed to during the estimated 20 laser hair removal procedures that he performed a week. Initially assumed to be sulfur (which is one of the compounds that makes up a strand of hair), Chuang nonetheless became more and more convinced that the smoke could be harmful.
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Disturbingly, Chuang was right - his research team found 300 different chemicals in the smoke, 13 of which are known to be harmful to humans and animals. Another worrisome detail? Two workers that have assisted on genital laser hair removal sessions have reportedly contracted HPV of the throat - which may have been contracted through viral particles released into the air. Yup, you read that right: airborne STDs. Freaked out yet?
While patients should certainly be on their guard, the dermatologists and technicians that perform these procedures multiple times a day are the ones most at risk to encounter the consequences of constant exposure to these toxins. Is anyone else having flashbacks to the great keratin straightening scare of the mid-aughts?
We spoke to Andréa Young of Beam Laser Spa in NYC to get a laser hair removal business owner's take on this disturbing news. According to Young, while there aren't any long-term studies about the effects of laser hair removal plume inhalation, she noted that Beam takes extra precautions to provide minimal risk to clients and technicians. This includes offering masks, as well as equipping each room with surgical-grade air evacuators and built-in vents to aspirate the air. Young also notes that she has performed thousands of laser treatments over the years, and claims she has had no adverse reactions to breathing in all that plume.
After the release of these findings, we're left to wonder if these kinds of safety measures will soon be required in all laser hair removal treatment facilities. We really hope the powers that be do what's necessary to keep one of our most beloved lazy-girl beauty treatments safe for all parties involved.
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By Tara Rasmus, Refinery29