NY Times on laser dangers

The 14 July 2002 New York Times business section had an article titled “That Quest to Enhance Beauty Can Leave Scars.”

NY Times article (registration required)

Some excerpts:
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Medical experts say they are also concerned about laser procedures that are used to remove unwanted body hair, birthmarks and scars, as well as to smooth out lines and
wrinkles. Improperly administered, lasers can cause burns, splotching or irreversible pigmentation changes and scarring. (People with tans, for instance, are not good candidates for laser hair removal.) Consumers who are treated by nonphysicians may not be properly diagnosed for serious conditions, including skin cancers, experts say.

The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, a professional group based in Rolling Meadows, Ill., a Chicago suburb, said 45 percent of its 2,500 members surveyed recently reported an increase in the number of patients they have treated over the last year for complications from cosmetic procedures, including laser treatments.

Mr. Tepedino, the New York State investigator, estimated that over the last year alone, his office received about three dozen complaints about laser hair removal procedures in New York City, with most of the complaints directed
toward beauty salons and spas. Previously, he said, his office typically received few if any complaints in a year.

Seventeen states currently have no laws specifying who can administer laser-based cosmetic procedures. Fourteen states, including New Jersey, now require that lasers be used only by licensed physicians, while nine states, as well as the District of Columbia, allow physicians to delegate laser use if a licensed doctor is on site. The remaining 10 states, including New York and Connecticut, let doctors delegate laser use at their discretion.

According to the dermatologic trade group, a physician may delegate certain cosmetic procedures, including laser hair removal and microdermabrasion, to certified or licensed office personnel like registered nurses, physician assistants and nurse practitioners. But the supervising physician must be present when the procedure is being done. The society says it does not recommend that physicians delegate any procedure that involves injecting a substance into the skin, like Botox or collagen.

Consumers can obtain more information at the society’s Web site, www.aboutskinsurgery.com. </font><hr /></blockquote><font size=“2” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>