A checklist for safe laser use

Entering the laser hair removal business means serious responsibility for spa owners

Entering the laser hair removal business means serious responsibility for spa owners

LASER stands for: Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Laser hair removal treatments utilize the principle of selective photothermolysis: matching of a specific wavelength (of laser light), power, and pulse duration to obtain optimal effect on a targeted tissue (hair follicle) with minimal effect to the surrounding tissue.

In the years that I have been a clinical trainer, I have heard it said many times, “anyone can run a laser to do hair removal.” That is true, anyone can, as seen on television and the pictures you can find on the Internet of clients that were burnt during laser hair removal treatments. Anyone can do laser hair removal, but run the risk of some terrible outcomes if they do not have the proper training on the machine they have purchased. It is all about safe operation of the laser and understanding the physics of the laser to perform safe treatments on clients.

There are a number of key topics to be covered during training, such as:
- Laser physics
- Fitzpatrick skin typing (a six-level numerical classification of the colour of skin to predict its response to UV light)
- Understanding the client’s medical history
- How to perform a consultation correctly
- Obtaining the right information from a client before performing a laser treatment

There is a lot more. Contraindications, precautions, clinical theory, machine parts, maintenance of the laser, and the laser safety of your machine are of key importance.

I am asked questions at the beginning of training and they tend to differ, one month out, or two months out, as the operator gains experience with their technology. Ongoing clinical support is extremely important—it takes much more than a one-day training session to contribute to a successful and safe laser hair removal business.

You cannot train experience. When deciding to get involved with lasers, you are responsible for ensuring the company you select as your supplier can and will support you in the safe use of an approved device.

Laser selection checklist

More spas across Canada are offering treatments for laser hair removal (it is considered the number two cosmetic procedure after Botox). As a spa owner, wanting to get into the laser hair removal business, it is important to ask yourself a number of questions before purchasing a laser, because when you are making that decision to purchase, your main priority should not necessarily be the cost of the device, but what you are purchasing when you buy. Inform yourself:

❍ Is the laser I am purchasing the correct wavelength for permanent hair reduction in the population (skin type) I am going to treat?
❍            Are there ongoing costs with the machine I have purchased (consumables)?
❍            Does the company I am purchasing from offer in-house training and ongoing clinical support and education for my staff and me?
❍            Are there service technicians available in my area, to get me back up and running if my machine breaks down, and to ensure the machine is operating within the approved manufacturer specifications?
❍            Are there insurance and service warranties I can purchase to protect myself and my business?
❍            Does the company offer financing?
❍            Does the company I am purchasing from adhere to the following:
❏ Health Canada Approval, Medical Device Licence Number (mandatory requirement)
❏ CSA Electrical Approval (mandatory requirement)
❏ ANSI Z136.1 and .3 guidelines for the safe use of lasers
❏ Manufacturer guidelines for the safe use of the device
❏ Provincial regulations such as Occupational Health and Safety

Teresa Maloney is a senior clinical educator (Western Canada) for Clarion Medical Technologies.
by Teresa Moloney | Spring 2012