Bill would require medical supervision for laser hair removal

Updated: Feb. 13, 2017 at 11:26 PM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Many people turn to lasers to remove unwanted hair, but sometimes what they got were burns, blisters, even scars. Virginia does not require people who perform laser hair removal to be licensed or even properly trained, but that is prompting a potential change.

"My skin had a terrible reaction. It erupted," said Trisha Ip. "I was scared it was burns, because it looked like burns, and ended up having to see a dermatologist to see what it was and get some relief."

"It hurt a lot and it continued to burn afterward. And I was like, this is not good.  And when I looked in the mirror, I actually had blisters across the top of my lip," said Anne Warren.

Delegate Mark Keam (D - Fairfax) said he started hearing horror stories, too.

"The first problem I heard about was that there was a young man who went in for treatment and had his back burned severely and found out the woman that was doing the actual therapy and treatment was not qualified and not trained. She was the janitor, who's job was to clean the spa," said Keam.

Thirty states in the U.S. require licensing or physician supervision for laser hair removal, according to a report from the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation. Virginia is not one of them. That's why Keam started working last year to pass a law requiring medical supervision.

"My bill going forward would require that anyone providing laser hair treatment be properly trained, either a doctor or nurse or physician's assistant or someone who is trained and supervised by one of those healthcare professionals." explained Keam.

This legislation won't mean any change for facilities and spas where a physician already oversees laser hair removal. However, med spa operators and independent estheticians tell us it could mean a loss of business for those who don't work with with a doctor on staff. They point out that many estheticians have certified laser training, and perform the procedure successfully.

The Virginia State Association for Skin Care Professionals sent the following statement:

The Virginia State Association for Skin Care Professionals appreciates the collaboration that occurred between Department of Health Professions, the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation and members of the General Assembly on HB 2119.

We look forward to working with these parties to clearly define the 'properly trained' individuals that will work under the supervision of medical professionals to perform laser hair removal.

But customers who have been burned say something needs to change.

"I got very lucky not to get scarred. I don't know what would happen next time," said Ip.

The bill has passed the House and is now in committee in the Senate. If it passes, it would take effect July 1.

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