Summary: While the majority of cosmetic procedures are regulated by state medical boards, laser hair removal certification isn’t as consistent. At a national level, the FDA has one department that controls electrolysis equipment and lasers, while other medical aesthetic treatments fall under a different department. This leaves determining guidelines for laser hair removal up to state and local supervisory boards, which currently set standards independently of each other. This means expectations across state lines are inconsistent for both patients and technicians.
The Evolution of Laser Technicians
When aesthetic laser technology first became available to the general public, the manufacturers didn’t offer any direct training opportunities on their devices. Instead, the burden of determining safe, effective treatment approaches was put in the hands of the purchasing doctors. Without guidelines, regulations or really any oversight, the early days of laser treatment for hair removal, resurfacing and other cosmetic procedures delivered unreliable results and carried higher safety risks.
In response to this concern, organizations like the National Laser Institute were formed, not only to establish a more comprehensive training program for laser technicians but also to ensure patient safety by raising the standards for those responsible for administering laser-based treatments.
Different State Regulations
Before long, state regulatory boards also recognized the need for a higher level of patient protection. As of the most recent data collated in 2012, several states had written specific laws for aesthetic laser treatments:
- The first state to set mandatory training requirements for laser technicians, Arizona requires that laser treatments be performed only by those men and women who have completed 40 hours of classroom education and 24 hours of clinical practice, all of which must take place at a state-approved facility.
- Florida’s laser hair removal laws are mandated by the State Electrolysis Board, and require laser technicians to have successfully completed a 30-hour approved education course as well as mandating a national certification from an approved organization. Additionally, laser technicians may only use the specific devices upon which they’ve received certification.
- Georgia has laws that limit who is approved to practice laser treatments, limiting licensing to those practitioners who also hold an aesthetician or master cosmetologist license, or who are medical professionals. A requisite number of clinical hours are required prior to earning tiered laser certifications with either an “assistant” or “senior” designation.
- Texas passed a law requiring 40 hours of mandatory training at a facility approved by the state plus 100 individual procedures performed prior to receiving laser technician certification.
A number of other states have limitations similar to Georgia’s in terms of limiting who can perform laser procedures. For example, in California, laser hair removal can only be administered by a nurse, physician’s assistant or medical doctor; New Jersey has a very similar law in place.
The Benefits of Standardization
These guidelines are all aimed at improving patient safety and ensuring consistent, reliable results regardless of where a patient lives or receives treatment. Increased standardizations of training and certification have another benefit as well: improving the standing of the medial aesthetics field.
Medical spas are sometimes treated as the red-headed stepchild of both the medical and cosmetic arena, since they don’t quite fit solely into one realm or the other. They often remain less regulated by state medical boards compared to dedicated surgical facilities, yet are far too sophisticated to count as a simple beauty spa. Through mandating stricter training requirements and demanding higher standard of patient care, medical spas will gain recognition in their own right, becoming a reliable and trusted resource for laser treatments now and into the future.