Tags: laser | hair | removal | dangers

Laser Hair Removal Dangers

Tuesday, 07 Jan 2014 03:24 PM

Laser hair-removal procedures have become very popular in recent years, but some health experts are raising concerns about an unknown number of procedures performed each year by nonphysicians with minimal training and may put patients at risk, The New York Times reports.

Nearly a half-million laser removal procedures were performed by trained surgeons in 2011, according to the latest statistics compiled by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. But the treatments are not without risk. When performed improperly, they can cause disfiguring injuries and severe burns in sensitive areas, like the bikini line and the mustache area above the lips, and, rarely, even death.
 
The percentage of lawsuits over laser surgery that involved nonphysicians rose to 78 percent in 2011 from 36 percent in 2008, according to a recent study published in JAMA Dermatology. Laser hair removal was the most commonly performed procedure cited in the litigation. Another popular treatment, intense pulse light, is used to “rejuvenate” aging skin and get rid of wrinkles.
 
"Not a week goes by that I don't see a complication from a laser," said Tina Alster, M.D., founding director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery. "There’s a perception by the public that anybody can do this. People need to remember, it’s not the laser doing the work, it's the operator."
 
In laser hair removal, pulses of light are used to destroy hair follicles. Licensing and training requirements varies from state to state. Treatment is considered to a practice of medicine in 35 states, but only 26 require nonmedical personnel who offer the treatment to have on-site medical supervision. New York, Virginia, and Georgia do not consider it a medical treatment, and 11 states simply don't have laws regulating it.
 
For those considering laser hair removal, here are some factors to consider:
  • Ask whether the facility is owned by a doctor and whether he or she is available during procedures. Ask what emergency procedures are in place.
  • Ask who will perform the procedure and what licensing and training the operator has? How many times has the operator done laser hair removal on the part of the body that you want treated?
  • Ask if laser treatment is appropriate for your skin type, hair color, complexion, and body area. Suggest that the operator test a small patch of skin before you have the procedure. Consumers with conditions like diabetes, difficulty with wound healing, or a tendency toward scarring may be especially vulnerable to complications.
  • If you experience pain or discoloration after a procedure, call your doctor right away.

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Health experts are raising concerns about an unknown number of laser hair removal procedures performed each year by nonphysicians who may have minimal training and put patients at risk.
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2014-24-07
Tuesday, 07 Jan 2014 03:24 PM
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