The New Zealand College of Appearance Medicine (NZCAM) has backed a bill that would tighten rules around the use of cosmetic lasers and sunbeds, saying its members have seen the devastating results of unqualified operators.
National MP Paul Hutchison's Health (Skin Cancer and Trauma Prevention) Amendment Bill would see enforced regulations on sunbeds and cosmetic lasers to prevent avoidable harm from ultraviolet radiation.
New Zealand College of Appearance Medicine (NZCAM) president Dr Teresa Cattin said today it was unacceptable that anyone could buy and operate devices that had the potential to cause significant burns and permanent scarring when used incorrectly.
"We have been concerned about the lack of any regulation around laser and VPL (variable pulsed light) devices for many years. I have personally seen distressed patients in my clinic who have been scarred by untrained, unqualified people using laser and VPL devices," she said.
"Untrained laser operators are not only inflicting injury by burning patients, they are not qualified to recognise skin cancers when clients present with them."
Dr Cattin said NZCAM was aware of a number of cases where malignant skin lesions had been treated inappropriately because beauty therapists failed to recognise the signs of cancer. Instead of being cut out, malignant lesions had been treated with a laser device, with devastating outcomes for the patients.
Last year, the Medical Council of New Zealand determined that doctors had to get additional qualifications before they could perform cosmetic procedures, including laser treatments. However, lack of regulation allowed those outside the medical profession and without qualifications to perform the same procedures.
Dr Cattin said that loophole was clearly contrary to patient safety.