State Laser Regulations and Requirements
Laser regulations are fairly similar in most states and countries, with some variations on medical supervision and who can or cannot provide treatment to the public. If you are in the US it can be extremely difficult to source the “actual statutes” or laws through your state Health or Medical Boards (website, representatives or offices). Calling and emailing these regulatory institutions can often lead to speculative answers or being transferred from person to person with no end-result. If you happen to find your regulations online or through your lawyer, some of the wording can either be “suggestive”, or very direct in its definition. Places like California and Colorado have made it very easy to find and understand their state regulations and requirements, while over-regulated places like Texas, make it very difficult to source and understand its policies. During your research you may also run into antiquated regulations that were developed specifically for laser hair removal in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Unfortunately these out-of-date statutes do not address the most recent technological advancements or the wide variety of safe and common laser based procedures being provided. Some states will also use blanket statements like “Laser based technology used for the purpose of providing cosmetic procedures” or “Medical device that affects the integrity of tissue” for the purpose of covering all bases. When they should be trying to understand and address that the treatment protocol and technology for laser hair removal is a very systematic procedure that is designed to avoid tissue damage or that tattoo removal is a very superficial and precise treatment that uses a variety of protocols and wavelengths of light to attract to certain colors of ink while also avoiding adverse reactions to the surrounding tissue or melanin.
The variety of regulatory statements being used to answer a very simple question like “ what are my states regulations” can often leave a lot of room for interpretation and confusion, especially to budding entrepreneurs looking to enter this rapidly growing industry. After spending the last 10 years of my 14-year career going through the ins and outs of each states regulations, I have been able to assist hundreds of my people in finding out if they are eligible to practice laser in their chosen area. While some people got the answer that they were looking for, others reside in states that are not very clear in their definition. These states that are considered grey and open to interpretation locations, which ultimately leave it up to the business owner to take a chance that he or she will remain in business or grandfathered in should the rules change or become more defined. Some of these “grey” states are waiting to see where the industry is going as a whole; while other states decided to protect exiting safe and responsible non-medical laser facilities by only enforce exiting health and safety regulations when needed. I personally believe that the industry does need to be regulated a fair and responsible manor. However I do not think that the regulations should not pertain to who can or cannot offer these services, but should focus more on how safe the laser is, and the amount and quality of education a medical or non-medical professional needs before they can treat the public. You shouldn’t be exempt from learning the process, just because you went to med school…
Below you will find my personal suggestions for self-regulating and also a very common resource of regulations that can be found freely on the Internet. My suggestions are just that, suggestions. If you are practicing in a state with undefined regulations these recommendations are designed to keep you and your clients safe. A majority of these self-regulating guidelines currently coincide with many regulations that are already required in a majority states and countries, but if they are not it might be a good idea to adopt them anyways.
The “Use of Lasers/Delegation of Medical Functions” PDF was produced by the Federation of State Medical Boards in 2012. It is a synopsis of the FSMB findings as they pertain to who can or cannot provide/delegate laser aesthetic based treatments using a class IV laser. Please take the time to read through all of the materials provided. If you would like to dissect and go through your states regulation and terminology in more detail, please feel free to email me at and I will be happy to go through any of this with you; while addressing any recent updates or changes that have been made to the rules and regulations in your area.
Thank you again for your time and interest, I look forward to helping in any way I can!
SUGGESTIONS FOR SELF-REGULATING
Use an FDA Approved Laser
There are a lot of inexpensive poor quality lasers that can be bought from over seas. These devices are ineffective and have a high chance of causing scaring when in the hands of an inexperienced or under educated laser tech. You get what you pay for in this industry and its best to find a new or refurbished laser (depending on budget) that has a great reputation and can offer clients expected results. If you are using anything less you are not only hurting your new business, but hurting the industry as a whole by perpetuating some of the negative stereotypes that were once associated with the removal process.
Hire a Medical Director
This is a common regulation in a majority of states in the US and can often add legitimacy and on-call medical support to your business. A Medical Director is a Medical Professional who is a licensed and board certified MD, or Dermatologist who is responsible for overseeing protocol and guaranteeing that your clients are being treated in a safe and responsible manor. An MD should also be required to review all client medical charts, looking for any abnormalities or possible side effects that could be caused by medications, infections, allergies, etc. In some states the MD is required to be on site (direct supervision), but as of right now that doesn’t seem to be nor have I been able to locate a source that requires it in the state of NY. A Medical Director is a hired employee and you both will-need to jointly determine/contractually agree on the rate of pay or percentage he or she receives for their service.
Obtain your own Laser Malpractice Insurance Policy
By having your own coverage you will avoid the dependency of being on your Medical Directors Malpractice insurance. This will make you more attractive to possible MD’s and protect you from being sued. Laser Malpractice Insurance can run between $1000-$2000 a year, which is a small price to pay for the protection and counsel that it provides to a new clinic owner.
Training & Certification from an Experienced & Reputable Educator
Take a course, or in fact take two courses if you have to. Laser is an evolving education and the best teachers and technicians are the ones who have seen and experienced the most. With the rapid progression of the industry and technology do your homework and see which course best fits your goals. If you are looking to offer more then tattoo removal find a school or educator that offers a well-rounded full-spectrum course. If you want to focus on tattoo removal then take a class for that subject from a teacher/program that focuses on tattoo removal. Ultimately you want to attend a program that can help you grow and your business and knowledge before and after the class is over. With any type of business and education you will have choices, just take the time to evaluate your decision and find which one best suits your goals, learning style, and development needs.
**Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, nor am I a member of any states medical board. Please do not take any of the above mentioned or post communications as legal advice or legal counsel. I strongly encourage you to do your own due-diligence, research, and consult a lawyer before providing any laser treatments on the public.
USE OF LASERS/DELEGATION OF MEDICAL FUNCTIONS