Incorrect Gel Manicure Procedure May Cause Nerve Damage
ABC’s Good Morning America today tells the unfortunate story about Jane Ubell-Meyer, who visited a local nail salon for a gel manicure but left with unbearable pain. After many months, a neurologist finally determined that the nail technician used an improper technique with unknown chemicals, causing nerve damage.
A gel manicure is quickly becoming a popular choice in nail salons because it is stronger and lasts longer than acrylic nails. According to a survey in “Nails” Magazine, 24% more customers ordered them last year than in previous years.
For a proper gel manicure, first, a technician lightly roughens the nails with a file and then brushes an all-in-one gel onto the nails. Next, the gel hardens under a UV lamp, and then the technician removes any residue with a cleanser.
But Ubell-Meyer did not receive the proper manicure. She says that the electric file slipped and scuffed up her skin. The technician then dipped her damaged fingers into a pot of powdered chemicals, allowing them to seep into the skin. Dr. Orly Avitzur, a neurologist who is also Consumer Reports medical adviser, says that unknown chemicals entered the abrasion, causing the nerve damage that felt to Ms. Ubell-Meyer like “an electric shock.”
"The two major hazards are the actual filing down process of the nail and then subsequently what the chemicals are we often don't know," said Dr. Avitzur.
Patricia Yankee, a celebrity nail technician, tells ABC that if a technician mixes glue and powder, or dips fingers into a pot of chemicals, the technique is incorrect. “Nine times out of 10, it’s the unskilled, uneducated technician that’s causing the issue,” she said.
"The easiest way to tell if you've gotten a gel manicure is if it has a nice, clear shine to it. If you see anything that looks cloudy and you can't see through it, nine times out of 10 it's been something that's been mixed with a powder and a gel applied over it," Yankee said.
Ms. Yankee offers these warning signs for consumers to watch out for when receiving a gel manicure:
• The salon uses bottles in unmarked containers.
• The products smell unusually strong or have a strange odor.
• Your skin is abraded or cut during the procedure.
• The instruments used on you are not sterilized.
• Your skin or nails hurt during or after the nail service.
• The gels do not soak off easily in solvents designed to remove acrylics.
• The technician cannot tell you what's in the products.
• The salon is not clean.
• Licenses for the salon and individual operators are not visibly posted.
• There is swelling, redness or other signs of infection.