Woman left with ‘chessboard burns’ after botched laser hair removal

'I noticed a zapping feeling and felt like my skin was being burnt.'

Woman left with ‘chessboard burns’ after botched laser hair removal
Woman with laser hair removal left with scars on face and neck
Thobe was told the burns would settle down after being cooled(Picture: Thobe Moyo / SWNS)

A woman has been left with agonising burns on her face after a laser hair removal procedure went wrong. 

Thobe Moyo, from South Africa, first began growing facial hair when she hit puberty, due to polycystic ovaries syndrome (PCOS).

She’d had several laser hair removal treatments over the years without any issue, but her most recent appointment – at a new salon – changed everything.

Thobe claims she experienced an ‘intense and unfamiliar burning sensation’. Afterwards, when she looked in the mirror, she was shocked to see ‘chessboard’ like burns on her face and neck.

Thobe said: ‘People are asking what is wrong with my face. I’ve had to cover my face with scarves.

‘It’s been so difficult to sleep and live my life.’

Woman with laser hair removal left with scars on face and neck
Thobe started growing facial hair at 18-years-old (Picture: Thobe Moyo / SWNS)

The 38-year-old used to shave her face and neck to get rid of excess hair.

‘I had to shave once a day,’ she explains.

‘I was a young woman that needed razors for my face. I looked for anything that could help.’

What is PCOS and why does it cause excess hair growth?

PCOS is a condition that impacts how a woman’s ovaries work.

According to the NHS, the three main symptoms are irregular period, excess androgen (male hormones) and enlarged ovaries. 

Increased male hormones may cause excessive hair growth on the face, chest, back or buttocks. PCOS may also cause hair loss. 

But after graduating university, Thobe discovered laser hair removal, which was a huge help.

‘The first few times I had the treatment, the appointment was smooth and fairly cheap,’ she said. 

Woman with laser hair removal left with scars on face and neck
Laser hair removal was the perfect remedy for Thobe (Picture: Thobe Moyo / SWNS)

Since then, she’s had more than 10 laser hair removal procedures, the majority of which have gone smoothly.

However, when Thobe decided to try a different salon in September this year – which had ‘glowing’ reviews online – she was left with painful scars all over her face and neck.

‘Everything seemed normal,’ she said. 

‘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.’

Woman with laser hair removal left with scars on face and neck
Thobe was left with visible scars all over her face and neck (Picture: Thobe Moyo / SWNS)

When Thobe looked in the mirror after the appointment, she was in shock — her skin was covered in rectangular burn marks, like a chessboard.

‘I knew it wasn’t normal, my skin had been burned,’ she said. 

‘They brushed it off and asked when I would be booking my next appointment.’ 

Staff at the salon reassured her it would only require a cold compress and some aftercare, but a month later her skin is still badly marked and beginning to scab over.

Thobe Moyo, 38, after a laser hair removal treatment left her with agonising ''chessboard'' burns on her face and neck. See SWNS story SWFTchessboard. 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.
While the burns are beginning to scab over, Thobe has trouble living her life as usual(Picture: Thobe Moyo / SWNS)

Thobe has been too self-conscious to go swimming, an activity she does regularly, or meet up with friends, and has even had trouble sleeping due to the pain. 

After complaining, she claims all she got was an apology and a free pot of aloe vera to treat the burns.

‘An apology and a pot of aloe vera does not take away the damage they’ve caused,’ she says.

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