Case studies

Damages for burns caused by IPL hair removal treatment


A 54-year-old woman has received £3,500 for the injuries she sustained as a result of negligent IPL (intense pulsed light) hair removal treatment in August 2012. She suffered mild superficial burns to her arms, with peeling and dyspigmentation, which resolved within three to four months. The burns were initially very painful and obvious and affected the claimant’s confidence. She required personal and domestic assistance for two weeks and was unable to fully enjoy a holiday following the accident as her arms had to be constantly shielded from the sun.

The claimant brought an action against the defendant alleging that she had been negligent in failing properly to cool her arms prior to and following the IPL hair removal treatment and in applying hot massage oils to her arms immediately after the treatment. 

The defendant admitted liability and the claim settled out of court. 

Intense pulsed light systems are different from lasers in that they can deliver hundreds of wavelengths (or colours) in each burst of light. Certain filters are used that target these flashes of light so that they can work as precisely as lasers. Simply, the burst of light to the hair causes damage to the follicle in the same way as a laser. However, there are things to be aware of with IPL:

  • IPL can also be used to remove hair, but it is not generally regarded as being as effective as laser hair removal;
  • IPL cannot get rid of tattoos and should be kept away from any tattoos you wish to keep;
  • people with Asian skin or darker skin should be extra careful as IPL can sometimes cause hyper-pigmentation;
  • you can still get burned with IPL if the operator is not knowledgeable and careful during the treatment. 

We have dealt with a number of cases involving these issues. If you have concerns about the IPL or laser treatment you have had, please get in touch as we will be happy to discuss your options with you and see how we can help.


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Penningtons Manches LLP

Penningtons Manches LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. San Francisco is an associated office.

Penningtons Manches LLP