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Hospital Healthcare Europe

Cosmetic deregulation endangers patients

27 March, 2008  

Consultant Plastic Surgeon and international laser expert David Gault spoke out against the Department of Health’s proposal to deregulate laser and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) devices for ‘cosmetic’ treatments. Mr Gault who helped develop the first hair-removing laser over 18 years ago and acts as an expert witness in medico-legal cases of ‘botched’ laser and IPL treatments is particularly concerned that these measures will lead to permanent complications in patients.

David Gault, a member of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, said: “Just because a laser is used for cosmetic purposes, it does not mean that it is any less dangerous. There have been an increasing number of cases where their incorrect use has resulted in patients ending up ‘spotted’ like a leopard with either circular patches of brown or black pigmentation or white patches of depigmentation.

“I would be very concerned about untrained attempts to treat port wine stains and pigment spots and any treatment at all on children.”

If administered by untrained hands, these treatments can result in skin blisters, burns, sores and pigment scarring. Clinical expertise is required to analyse and choose the best treatment for different colours of hair in depilation. Misdiagnosis of a pre-cancerous pigmented lesion as “cosmetic” can mean that the early signs are missed and the opportunity to cure is lost.

Many patients are treated inappropriately with either the wrong laser, or with the right laser but the wrong settings. GP’s, who are often not consulted when a patient chooses to have laser treatments, are later forced to get involved when complications result from an inexperienced practitioner.

Mr Gault added: “It seems entirely inappropriate that the Government should seek to deregulate this type of treatment when within the last year I have seen more cases of complications following laser and IPL treatments than ever before, and if any changes in regulation should be proposed at all, they should be to control their use more stringently – not less”.

To ensure optimum results David Gault also recommends staying out of the sun for several weeks both before and after treatments.

David Gault has gained international acceptance for the many new techniques and devices he has developed. As a leading authority on laser treatments for both children and adults, David Gault uses lasers at the Lister Hospital, Chelsea and the new Plasma Skin Regeneration device at the Portland Hospital, London.

British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons

Cadogan Clinic