van Drongelen AW, Oostlander AE, van Baal JWPM, Janssen SWJ
RIVM Report 2017-0049
Using lasers and similar devices in skin treatments involves the transfer of energy to the skin, for example by converting light to heat. Through this method, parts of the skin, like hairs, can be removed or 'damaged' and small blood vessels can be cauterised so that they disappear. According to research carried out by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), all of the treatments investigated are subject to potential complications. These may be mild and temporary in nature, such as redness and swelling, but they may also be more severe and permanent, such as burns or scars.
Complications resulting from treatment with laser and so-called Intense Pulsed Light devices appear to continue for a relatively long period and to occur relatively frequently. In contrast, complications resulting from ultrasound treatment and from the treatment of acne with LED light continue for a relatively short period and occur less frequently.
This research shows that it is not possible to distinguish between lasers that are safe to use and those that are not. The need for such a distinction has been expressed by the professional body representing beauty therapists. This outcome confirms the earlier conclusion of an RIVM investigation on this topic published in 2015.
This follow-up study also specifies the definition of skin treatments with all kinds of energy-transferring devices (Energy Based Devices). In practice, it remained unclear which of these treatments could be classified as such. The definition has been used to determine which treatments performed by beauty therapists can be classified as treatments of the skin with Energy Based Devices.
This follow-up study is a consequence of the policy proposition of the Dutch Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport in 2016 to restrict the performance of skin treatments using lasers and similar devices to physicians and skin therapists.This proposition has led to diverse reactions from professionals in the field, and in particular beauty therapists.