Worries over regulation of laser hair removal treatment

  • 18 July 2012
  • From the section Health

Leading skin specialists say they are worried about the lack of regulation for laser hair removal.

Thousands of people have the procedure every year in the UK and it is supposed to have permanent results.

There are no official figures but it is estimated hundreds have suffered burns, mainly women with darker skin.

The British Association of Dermatologists (Bad) says beauty therapists often do not have enough training to perform it safely.

It says if the wrong equipment or settings are used for the client's skin and hair type, it may not work and they can waste up to thousands of pounds.

The association says it should only be done by a doctor, or under the supervision of one.

Consultant dermatologist Dr Nick Lowe said: "A lot of people are treated with the wrong lasers, the wrong settings and they will burn and blister and sometimes scar.

"The other problem, particularly with pulse lights, is that they may not work as well as a laser.

"So a person will go in for many more treatments than they need and you never get the degree of permanent hair reduction to make it worth their while.

"They should only be going back for a series of treatments about eight weeks apart on average."

'Skin marks'

The British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (Babtac) argues that problems do occur in clinics as well as salons.

The group agrees change in the industry is needed and is in favour of self-regulation.

Julie Speed, general manager at Babtac, said: "As an industry we've had a lot of equipment come in from abroad which has perhaps been cheaper and not as well produced.

"I myself have been on the receiving end of clients coming in who have had treatments carried out by medics and they've had appalling skin marks that have been permanent."

The Department of Health says the regulation of laser and IPL hair removal is under review.

A government-backed regulator, the Independent Healthcare Advisory Services, says it is starting a register later this year with a quality assurance symbol launched.

Babtac says many beauty therapists do have thorough training and deliver safe and successful treatment across the UK.