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Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Medical Student Victim: A surgical error

When I was in the first semester of my freshman year of college, I had laser hair removal done on my upper lip by my dermatologist, and the laser severely burnt my skin. I stupidly trusted my doctor, who told me that my skin may be a little pink after the procedure, but it should fade by that evening. Of course the fine print said "scarring, death, etc." as it always does. So of course I was aware of the "risks". But every release form warns of the worst, doesn't it? And I didn't fail to disclose the use of photosensitizing agents, tanning, or medical conditions; nor did I fail to disclose a propensity to develop keloids (a special type of scar which results in an overgrowth of tissue). I had no idea I had such a propensity. What upsets me is not that I was burnt (which probably was faulty laser settings, due to the fact that the procedure hurt BADLY. And I have hereditary pancreatitis, so I know pain. This laser HURT. I almost asked her not to do the other side!)

The wound healed as a keloid scar, and my dermatologist paid for cortisone injections, which were administered by a local plastic surgeon, and then for removal of the keloid. I had to treat the scar night after night after night, had to endure painful injections and more than one surgery.

Advice to patients: Be sure to research the risks of surgery yourself, beforehand. And try to find a doctor like the one Blogger Kim hopes to be—-one who knows how patients feel, perhaps from their own experience as a victim.

Read another story of surgical error.

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