We often get asked by our clients what to expect during Laser or IPL treatments – and we’ve certainly heard a fair share of horror stories.

First of all, it’s very important to note that there is absolutely no regulation in Victoria when it comes to the use of laser/IPL machines of ANY kind – including hair removal and skin rejuvenation.

If you can pay for the machine, you can use it. That is the only ‘regulation’.

Anyone can purchase one of these machines and begin to offer treatments. No training required. Not even a basic Laser Safety Certificate is required. When you undergo any form of laser/IPL treatment in Victoria, you are 100% entrusting and relying on the person performing the treatment to have the necessary insurances and training for the treatments being performed. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

All too often we hear stories of clients getting poor results or no results at all, incorrect/misleading information about what to expect, no spot tests being performed and the lists goes on. This isn’t just an isolated incident either – it happens whether the clinic is big or small, a franchise or otherwise.

For comparison – Queensland has some of the strictest regulations in place – helping to prevent unqualified, unskilled practitioners working with them. In fact, you need to a hold a licence to acquire and operate a device and if you’re still in training, a log book needs to be maintained as well as fully trained and licensed practitioner over seeing the procedure.

FOR YOUR SAFETY – Here are some tips before you undergo any Laser or IPL based treatments.

Make sure your operator has their OWN certificates (with their personal name it) and this should include a “Laser Safety Officers Certificate”. In addition, certificates relevant to the treatments being performed. Eg. laser hair removal DOES NOT qualify for facial based treatments, and vice-versa.

Certificates issued to the business/salon are not worth the paper they are printed on. Ignore these! It does not qualify a specific therapist to operate the machine. All these certificates prove is that someone, at some point, has done the training. That person may not even work there anymore which is why it is so important to sight individually obtained certificates.

Ideally, as a client you would like to see certificates issued by an independent training organisation such as the Australasian Academy of Cosmetic Dermal Sciences or the Australian Dermal & Laser Institute – NOT the company who sells/distributes the machines (although these are also important). These certificates should be recent – issued within the last 2 years at most to ensure ongoing training and development.

This will show you that the business is taking your health and safety seriously by properly training staff, and that the person operating the machine is (should be) capable of performing the treatment safely and effectively.

Also consider operator experience and where you are getting it done. Are they just out of school or have they undergone further studies such as Dermal Sciences or other skin related education and training. If the operator was painting your nails before hand and now taking you into the room to perform some sort of laser based skin treatment, then alarm bells should be ringing. Do they only perform skin based treatments or do they claim to specialise in everything? If they are a ‘we do everything’ kind of place, then more alarm bells should be ringing.

It’s important to note that machines come in all shapes and sizes and not all are great quality. They might get the job done but it could mean a lot more treatments before you see results. You can purchase a basic machine for as little as $15,000 – 20,000 – up to $120,000~ (for hair removal). When you move into the realm of advanced laser treatments (skin related for example), you won’t get much change from $200,000. As part of your initial consult, ask your practitioner the brand and model of machine they’re using and research it. If it’s a good quality machine, they won’t hide it.

No practitioner will ever hide the fact they are using a Cutera, Lumenis, or Candela machine – these are all extremely high quality, reputable brands. Expect to pay more for treatments performed with these devices – and with good reason. There are plenty of other amazing machines out there but again – research them. It’s important to note that the machine is only half the equation. Remember – ask to see the operators certificates and qualifications.

Much like dermal fillers and botox – Laser and IPL based treatments are not something you should be taking lightly. What was once considered a treatment performed in a medical environment is now a drive-through service delivered by anyone and everyone – from professional skin clinics to walk-in-walk-out beauty bars and shopping centres.

Unfortunately, until Victoria introduces stricter regulations around the purchase and use of these machines, you must always use due-diligence to ensure your own safety. Do not rely on the clinic or salon. While most should be fine, do your research regardless – and we mean this for EVERY clinic or salon – big or small, franchise or otherwise. Know exactly what you are getting yourself into, and who will be performing the treatment. If there are no issues, the clinic won’t hesitate to show all you the necessary paperwork. If they do hesitate, go elsewhere. It’s not worth the risk of poor results, no results and perhaps even serious burns.

The Consequences

Make no mistake – the consequences could be severe!

At one end of the scale the consequences will simply be lack of results and a huge waste of time and money. We’ve had a number of clients over the years come back to us after almost 12 months of Laser or IPL for hair reduction with virtually no results. Others have come to us after facial rejuvenation treatments due to severe irritation and sensitivity. Every single case so far could have been avoided if the therapist delivering the treatment had been properly trained.

At the other end of the scale – severe burns. And by severe burns, we truly mean it. You could easily end up in hospital from it.

Lasers and IPL machines are not toys. Don’t treat them as such.

Stay safe!