Lasers used for hair removal, skin peels, wrinkle removal, and removal of discolored spots on the skin can cause MELANOMAS. There are now 2 published articles in peer review dermatology journals that I am aware of showing pictures and explaining the effects of lasers on BENIGN FRECKLES and other spots on the surface of the skin. One was written by the formost expert on the subject of MELANOMAS and the other was authored by a Professor of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School.
Only 2-5 joules of energy was used on these patients, however, 50-60 joules is used for hair removal because most of this energy is dissipated as it travels down to the location to destroy the root. About 20 Joules is needed to do this and the color of the skin absorbs some laser light as it travels through the skin.
The use of lasers is expanding to include uses that have NOT been approved by FDA as “SAFE and EFFECTIVE” such as wrinkle removal, skin peels, and the removal of telangectasias. These MELANOMAS have the medical name of LENTIGO MALIGNA.
During the treatments the color of the skin spots is reduced and this makes the diagnosis of MELANOMA extremely difficult as color change is one of the symptoms looked for to make a diagnosis. After a few months the color around the treated area gets darker as the MELANOMA is continuing to spread and becomes visible again. The cancer usually spreads during this time and the patient can die of inoperable brain cancer in 3 years. Unlicensed and poorly trained laser operators who are not doctors can not make a diagnosis of MELANOMA. They can not do biopsies to have a Pathologist verify a diagnosis. Doctors will soon reduce their use of lasers as the word spreads about this deadly effect to avoid being sued for causing melanomas and death and risk destroying their practice.
A formal complaint has been filed with FDA to have the labeling of lasers changed to include this potentially fatal cancer of the skin as a WARNING along with the list of side effects that can occur as a result of laser treatments. Informed consent MUST be signed before treatment begins as a patient can not consent to treatment unless they are informed. FDA has known about this same problem with tanning booths, however, they have no jurisdiction over these booths as they are not promoted as medical devices. There probably will be a lawsuit about tanning booths soon and they will disappear from the scene rather than risk more lawsuits. The same thing will happen with lasers but doctors are more sensitive about being sued as it can ruin their practice so they will stop using them when other modes of treatment are available as there is for skin peels.