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Choosing Your Laser Professional

Are you shopping for a laser procedure and can’t decide among your vast number of choices?

Do yourself and your purse/wallet the favor by doing your homework. Some of the laser centers out there are fly by night and close shop without a moment’s notice leaving their clients with unfulfilled treatment packages and broken promises. Ask how long the place has been in business and how long it will take to complete your package if you are buying several treatments up front.

Also, be weary of those all-in-one laser machines that can do it all! Some practices will buy a machine and tout that it does a variety of treatments, wherein it does one thing extremely well, and the other applications are lacking in successful outcomes. For example, I own a laser that does hair removal great, but skin rejuvenation that is an application on the hair removal machine is better done by my other laser. I know it’s hard to be a savvy shopper in this regard because you certainly aren’t supposed to be a laser expert; you just want the treatment to feel/look better. A laser from a business perspective is an expensive machine. Shops that purchase a single machine and tell you it can do everything may be just thinking about their own return on investment.

Which brings me to my next point: Know who is treating you, and whether they are following the local and state laws for owning/operating lasers. In Illinois, for example, you must be a doctor of medicine in order to own a laser. Dentists, chiropractors and aestheticians are not lawfully supposed to own lasers in Illinois. See reference below from the Illinois statutes.

Who is doing that treatment on you, and are they prepared to follow up with you should you have a medical complication? Or, will they tell you to seek medical attention elsewhere if you run into a problem post treatment? Personally, I have seen herpetic outbreaks from laser hair removal treatments that were performed at some of the big name franchises that have no doctor on site.

Finally, a lower price paid by you today is not always cheaper in the long run if you require additional treatments because your laser professional is using the wrong or weaker device. For example, Picosecond lasers have been shown to remove tattoos faster with fewer treatments, but Nanosecond or Q-switch technology where the cost to operate the laser is less is still being used by some facilities unable/unwilling to upgrade to the superior Pico technology. Hence, you may pay more for a Pico treatment session, but in the long run it will require fewer treatments than the Nanosecond lasers.

Laser treatments can do amazing things for the skin. Just be a cautious shopper and know what you are getting and who you are getting it from when you get zapped!

Straight from the Illinois statutes:


Section 1285.336 Use of Lasers

a) Definitions

For the purposes of this Section, the following definitions apply. "An ablative treatment is expected to excise, burn or vaporize the skin below the dermo-epidermal junction. Non-ablative treatments are those that are not expected or intended to excise, burn or vaporize the epidermal surface of the skin." (The Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons, Vol. 92, No. 4, April 2007)

b) Use of Light Emitting Devices

1) The use of a light emitting device, including, but not limited to, Class 3b and Class 4 lasers required to be registered with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Division of Nuclear Safety, under 32 Ill. Adm. Code 315, intense pulsed-light, radiofrequency and medical microwave devices used for the treatment of dermatologic conditions or cosmetic procedures that disrupt the epidermal surface of the skin, whether ablative or non-ablative, is considered to be the practice of medicine, which shall only be performed by a physician licensed to practice medicine.

2) An ablative or non-ablative procedure that can potentially disrupt the eye (cornea to retina) may only be performed by a physician licensed to practice medicine in all of its branches and may not be delegated pursuant to this Section.

3) The physician must examine the patient and determine a course of treatment appropriate to the patient prior to any ablative or non-ablative procedure being performed. If the established course of treatment requires multiple procedures, a subsequent examination shall not be required prior to the performance of each individual procedure.

A) A physician licensed to practice medicine in all of its branches may delegate the performance of ablative procedures to a licensed practical nurse, a registered professional nurse or other persons, with on-site supervision by the physician.

B) A physician licensed to practice medicine in all of its branches may delegate the performance of non-ablative procedures to a licensed practical nurse, a registered professional nurse or other persons, with on-site supervision by the physician or the physician must be available by telephone or other electronic means to respond promptly to any question or complication that may occur.

4) A licensed practical nurse, registered professional nurse or other person delegated the authority to perform any ablative or non-ablative procedures must have received appropriate, documented training and education in the safe and effective use of each system utilized.

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