High powered lasers used for cosmetic purposes such as laser hair removal treatments are still legally being used by unqualified operators in NSW and VIC, so here are updates on the latest rules and regulations on laser use. Current provisions allow any registered medical practitioner in the states to be able to set up a practice and call themselves a cosmetic surgeon or physician for their own commercial gain, resulting in a significant number of injuries to clients.
The shocking fact comes as the news the Australian Radiation Protection (ARP) and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPNSA) have announced that any changes to the rules and regulations on laser treatment are unlikely until the end of 2013.
“Inappropriate use of high powered lasers and IPL sources for cosmetic purposes can give rise to a range of injuries to clients. These include burns, bruising, scarring, swelling and eye problems.
“A working group of the Radiation Health Committee is examining options for improving control of IPL/Lasers for cosmetic purposes. It is possible that an option requiring inclusion of regulatory elements in the National Directory for Radiation Protection (NDRP) will be recommended.” The Committee said.
Public consultation is currently set to begin as the state tries to tackle the problem of Beauty Therapists conveying the impression that they are specifically qualified or specialise in the area.
The use of Lasers and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) sources has become increasingly popular and common among men and women fighting to stave off the effects of ageing. When used correctly the procedure has proven to help with cosmeticprocedures such as treatment of blood vessels, to even out pigmentation, scarring, wrinkles, sun damage and most commonly, hair removal.
Western Australia, Queensland and Tasmania are the only states in Australia to have a regulated use of powerful lasers and IPLs.
Western Australia regulates Class 3B and class 4 lasers, regardless of the purpose of use. Class 4 lasers are the most powerful lasers and are commonly used for treatment for treatment of skin pigmentation and hair removal. Beauty therapists can use less powerful lasers legally.
In Queensland the use of lasers is governed by theRadiation Safety Act 1999 (Qld) and Radiation Safety Regulations 1999. As well as thisGuidelines for the Development of a Radiation Safety and Protection Plan for Diagnostic, Therapeutic or Cosmetic practices using Laser Apparatus ensures that each business has to submit details of the type of laser being used to the Queensland Health Authority.
Tasmania currently is governed by rules and regulations on laser treatment by the Radiation Protection Act 2005 and 2006, which states that anybody who uses a class 3B or 4 lasers and IPLs for medical use must have a licence. The Tasmanian Government is currently trying to implement the same rules for when class 3B or 4 lasers and IPL’s are used for cosmetic procedures.
There is an Australian standard on Safe use of lasers in health care (AS/NZS 4173:2004) but that only recognises that all personnel using and handling lasers should have training appropriate to the task they perform but this isn’t law or a regulation.
Accident’s relating to the use of lasers has made high profile news as of late, with stories on the ‘Today Show and ‘A Current Affair’ highlighting the problem around legislation.
Further plans currently being considered by the Medical Board of Australasia are for General Practitioners (GP) to have a greater role in advising adults and children before they have cosmetic procedures such as hair removal.
Patients who consult with their GP will have to wait for a three month cooling-off period before the procedure to make sure they want to go through with the treatment.
The recommendation is in line with current NSW rules and regulations on laser treatments and 27 other recommendations set out in the report already have the backing of the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council. Customers looking into commercial laser procedures are meanwhile being advised to ask their dermal therapists for proof they have completed a nationally accredited dermal therapy qualification, and are up to date with the recent rules and regulations on laser treatments. Such a qualification should also be on display in the clinic or salon.