Expecting yet another exposé on the proliferating laser hair removal industry? Another horrifying story of burns, rashes or scars? Nope. While these alarming accounts of lasers-gone-bad aren't hard to come by, I've got good news: The Arizona Radiation Regulatory Agency (ARRA) has, at long last, issued regulations requiring standardized certifications for all cosmetic laser technicians. Previously non-existent, the regulations are slated for adoption by the State on April 3 and would apply to all operators of lasers for aesthetic purposes, including laser hair removal. Rather than bore you with the particulars of these new laws, I set out to understand what really matters to us as hair-aware consumers: Will these laws ensure our safety? And will they jack up the cost of an already pricey procedure (compared the price of Lady Schick anyway)? Laser hair removal 101
First, a few basics. Laser hair removal is an FDA-approved process of permanently reducing or eliminating unwanted hair on almost any part of the body except near the eyes, explains nurse practitioner Lisa Williams, owner of Medical Aesthetics by Lisa at Canyon Falls in Scottsdale http://www.canyonfalls.com. Williams, certified in cosmetic dermatology and laser medicine, says that the procedure is safe if administered by an experienced, properly trained professional and that it works for almost any skin type. "I love doing laser hair removal," she says. "It makes people feel really good about their appearance."
For most people, Williams says that the process is no more painful than a series of small pinches and takes only minutes depending on the size of the treatment area. Because hair grows in cycles, patients who want hair gone for good require at least two to three treatments (most people average five) as new hairs enter the growth cycle. And while the skin may be slightly pink after the treatment, the color subsides shortly afterward.A doctor in the house
So if laser hair removal is such a benign procedure, what's with these new regulations? According to Dr. Nicholas Soldo, medical director of Arizona Vein and Skin Rejuvenation in Scottsdale (LINK), statutes governing cosmetic laser procedures are long overdue. "At long last the Legislature has finally decided – and I commend them for this – that there is going to be some control over who operates laser devices," he explains.
In simple terms, the regulations require that non-medical practitioners who operate laser devices must take state-approved training courses and gain certification. "For hair removal, once they're certified, a physician does not have to be immediately available or does not have to be on premises," Dr. Soldo says. But he adds that while lasers used for hair removal are generally less powerful than those for more aggressive treatments like laser skin resurfacing, it's still in your best interest to visit a medical professional before any type of treatment, including hair removal. "I think, honestly, patients are better served if they are seen and evaluated by a physician initially and then let a certified nurse or aesthetician do the treatment," he notes. "That's just my feeling and that's the way I do it at my office."Cost concerns
In the great debate of quality over cost, Kristin DelMonte, CEO of Sona MedSpa of Scottsdale (LINK) says that the new regulations should not affect pricing too much at places already in compliance with the rules. In other words, you may see a price increase at the smaller mom-and-pop type joints but not at places staffed by qualified medical professionals. "And that ultimately benefits the consumer," DelMonte says. Hair do's
For women battling facial hair, guys taming unruly back hair or anyone looking for the convenience of hair-free body zones, laser hair removal is perhaps the greatest invention since ice cream. But like anything as satisfying as a Sugar Bowl sundae, laser hair removal comes with its caveats.
"Even with these new regulations, consumers still need to ask the right questions to determine the best place for their comfort level," DelMonte says. And the consensus among the experts is that your best defense against undesirable skin reactions to laser hair treatments is to look for current ARRA certification documentation (or ask to see it), inundate the laser technician with questions (from the type of laser to the technician's medical training) and if you have any qualms about someone ready to beam a laser onto your skin, do yourself a favor and move on.
"A reputable facility will welcome you for a complimentary tour and consultation," DelMonte says.Take them up on it.
With the countless choices we have for laser treatments in the Valley, make consultation appointments and interview several qualified practitioners before you go under the laser.
Article By: Lisa Kasanicky - ArizonaSpaGirls.com