I let out a relaxed sigh as I leaned back in my chair, letting the warm water bubble around my toes.
After a long week at work, I'd come to the salon for some pampering.
The owner, Alina, came over to start my pedicure.
"I have a treatment that could fix that," she said, looking at my legs.
Since I'd turned 40, I'd developed patches of pigmentation on my legs.
It was genetic and made worse by sun exposure.
The skin made me self-conscious when I put on dresses.
Ten years earlier, I'd sought dermatologists' advice but they said I could spend a lot on treatments that didn't guarantee a good result.
Alina explained her cure was an Intense Pulsed Light treatment, known as IPL, which sends a pulse through the skin's surface, causing pigment to break down and new skin to rise once healed.
Excited, I agreed to do four test sessions to see how my skin reacted.
Over the next few months, I went into the salon for patch trials.
I was pleasantly surprised to find I didn't feel any pain.
"The skin should feel like a mild sunburn, go scaly and then peel off, revealing new skin," she told me.
As summer approached, we decided not to do the full treatment until the weather cooled down, as you can't have treated areas in the sun.
Six months later, I booked another appointment.
I lay on the treatment lounge, excited.
But the moment Alina started, the agony was unlike anything I'd ever felt.
Each flash sent a searing burn through my legs.
"Is this normal?" I asked.
Alina nodded, handing me a toy to squeeze through the pain.
An hour later, the excruciating treatment was finally over.
At home, I was in tears.
My husband, Stephen's eyes were wide when he saw me, racing to put tea towels under ice water to try to soothe my legs.
Next day, I hobbled back to the salon to ask what went wrong.
"Just keep applying aloe vera gel and you'll be fine," Alina said.
Three days later, big blisters formed so Alina told me to come in so she could pierce the blisters and drain out the pus, which she did.
That night, my foot started swelling so I texted a photo to my friend, who's a nurse.
This isn't normal, she replied. Go get medical attention as soon as possible.
Stephen took me to the emergency department, and when the doctor saw my legs, he couldn't believe it.
"You have second-degree burns," he said.
He called the burns unit for advice and was soon cleaning and dressing my legs.
For two weeks I went to the hospital for new dressings, and now, four months later, I have scars all over my legs that I'm even more self-conscious about.
The burns have also caused nerve damage and I struggle to be on my feet for long hours, which makes my job as a dog groomer tough.
I've since discovered IPL treatments aren't regulated in most states of Australia.
Alina had bought her machine online and performed treatment on me without any training whatsoever.
But what she'd done was completely legal, so she wouldn't face any consequences.
Meanwhile, I have these scars for life and won't rest until there are more regulations in place to keep others safe.
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