LA QUINTA, Calif. - Cosmetic laser treatments may help us look better, but a new study says where you go to get them, and who you get them from, may have big consequences for your health.
"It's not a kids toy," said Dr Doriana Cosgrove, owner of Desert Med Aesthetics.
A new crop of businesses, known as Med Spas, offer cosmetic laser procedures quick and easy. Most are performed by physicians, but a growing number of people who aren't doctors are offering laser treatments. It's a statistic that is alarming to Dr. Cosgrove.
"You have to know the laser, you have to know the machine that you work with, the physics and how strong the machine can be," said Dr. Cosgrove.
In 75 percent of the country it's not against the law. Here in California, physicians assistants and registered nurses can use lasers under a physician's supervision. That means doctors don't have to be in the room. In some states, like Missouri, anyone can perform the treatment. Dr. Cosgrove says that can lead to mistakes.
"With some lasers if you have darker skin, a patient can have pigmentation problems, they can blister they can scare, I take it seriously," said Dr. Cosgrove.
UCLA researchers found 75 percent of lawsuits filed after botched treatments were from procedures done by people who are not doctors. The researchers said this is proof that lasers are safest in the hands of a physician.
The easiest way to protect yourself is before you get a treatment, ask questions.
"They need to know who is doing the treatment, how long they have been doing the treatment, they need to do some homework about the different lasers that are on the market because some lasers are safer than others. And also talk with a friend who had the procedure done, with the internet available people should take advantage of that," said Dr. Cosgrove.
Not only do you risk the laser burning your skin, but also your money.
"By having somebody that is not properly trained the patient can have 10, 15 treatments with no results," said Dr. Cosgrove.
It's an issue that hasn't gone unnoticed. July 1st, the state medical board just put into place stricter rules for doctors supervising physicians assistants and registered nurses performing the procedures. They have to be available to step in in the case of an emergency.