W5 Segment - "Don't Get Burned"


W5 had a special this past weekend called, "Don't get burned". They did a good job of highlighting some horror stories and uncovering some of the disgusting practices that go on in this unregulated Laser industry.  However, I did not appreciate the way they made estheticians out to be ignorant while the physicians were portrayed in a much more respectable light. I did appreciate Dr. Bargman's honesty. He admitted to injuring clients at one time or another. These are the risks. Laser has risks.   An experienced

technician/doctor/esthetician will tell you so and will outline them. Check out the show here.

I enjoyed the segment, and I am very pleased that this is being discussed. It is time to regulate this industry for the sake of all of us. It is incredible that someone can purchase a medical grade device and be trained in a few hours (or even just 1 hour) and receive a certificate.  Below is a copy of my feedback to W5. I will keep you posted if I hear back on this.

Dear W5,
I am a certified Electrologist and have been performing Laser treatments for over 14 years. I too am very frustrated in the lack of regulation in the Laser industry. Thank you for bringing this to light. However, I felt that your coverage was biased and made estheticians look bad and physicians look like the much better choice. You spoke with an esthetician who works from the back of her house and 2 doctors who worked in a clinical environment. The poorly trained estheticians looked so ignorant it was ridiculous. I have trained medical professionals (including plastic surgeons, dermatologists, family physicians) as well as a spas (estheticians, electrologists) in laser services for a laser company. If someone purchases a laser machine, the company they purchase it from typically offers some sort of training and “certification”. Generally 1 – 1.5 days of training was offered with the company I worked with. While this may seem like an appropriate amount of time, it is not. I met many doctors/estheticians/nurses/electrologists. As in any field, there are doctors who care and those who do not. Most of the estheticians and nurses would listen and want to learn as much as possible. They were engaged and determined. Many doctors did not sit in on the training, simply popping in now and then. Most clinics would try to fill the room to have as many trained as possible. I actually trained a couple of clinics that had the receptionist in to be trained as well – just in case! More people getting trained means less hands on time per person. I will say, most of the spas trained, were willing to set aside a number of hours the week post training, to practice on models and each other. However, quite a few of the doctors’ offices would already have bookings for these “technicians” the day after their training. In all cases, I would highly recommend at least taking that first week after the training to log a minimum of 8-10 hands on hours per person, before treating paying clients. I doubt many clinics adhered to this advice. As you point out in your coverage, regulation of this industry is required to protect the consumer – no matter if it is an esthetician, nurse, or a doctor giving the service (note that it is extremely rare that a doctor actually “performs” the service). 
Having said all that, any doctor/esthetician/technician that says they have NEVER injured someone, is either not being truthful or has not performed many treatments. I was pleased to hear Dr. Bargman speak so earnestly. These are some of the risks with laser treatments. With an experienced and qualified technician/doctor, these risks are minimal. I have never permanently scarred someone and I believe that is because I qualify the client, at each and every visit. The settings need to be adjusted dependant on skin colour (inc any tan), hair colour, new medications, etc.
I would love to help out with organizing some sort of association to protect people against these wonderful yet dangerous machines. I agree that there needs to be regulations put in place with quality training and a certain amount of practical hours. When I took my electrolysis training 18 years ago, we had to log 200 hours! I think we need to form a group of caring professionals – doctors/estheticians/technicians, who want to fight for the health and welfare of each person who wants to look better and feel better about themselves. No one should be permanently scarred from Laser treatment.

Thank you for your coverage of such an important topic. Hopefully you can help in finding the solution to this Health Canada black hole. Please do not dismiss the professional, competent and experienced technicians out there.

Daniela Hofmann

Owner of Freedom Medi-Spa