Regulating New York’s Laser Hair Removal Industry

According to Bloomberg, New York is working to regulate the laser hair removal industry. Laser hair removals are some of the most widely sought after cosmetic treatments in the United States. What makes laser hair removals unique among cosmetic treatments, is that laser hair removals straddle the space between medical procedures and personal care treatment. On occasion, laser hair removal has even caused serious harm. 

New York City is a prime example of what happens when an industry is not regulated. Because the city did not require laser hair removal practitioners to be licensed, or even trained, the number of unskilled laser hair removal specialists exploded. Websites and advertising offered deals encouraging young people to have laser hair removal done. Remember, the lasers used in laser hair removal can result in burns, discolouration, or worse. 

New York is different in that there was completely no regulation of the industry. Yet, in some 44 states, laser hair removal is regulated as a medical treatment that can only be done under the supervision of a medical professional like a nurse, doctor or physician assistant. In certain instances, the laser operator may be unlicensed. In five states, the industry comes under some form of regulation. 

The intended bill would bring much needed regulation to the state. The bill proposes that practitioners are licensed and have a certain level of education, before they are allowed to practice. 

Prior to the pandemic, hundreds of salons and spas offering clients laser removal treatments, had sprouted across the state. Nobody knows just how many such businesses there are. The types of businesses range from franchises to single store businesses. These businesses compete with cosmetic dermatologists and plastic surgeons in offering these services. 

The industry itself has been riddled with infighting, but, there is now a consensus that regulation is needed. 

Practitioners would have to be state licensed. Licensing would require training, exams and continuous certification by an accredited body.

Laser hair removal would have to be conducted with the supervision of a licensed physician. However, the physician would not have to be there for each and every procedure. 

Not only would salons have to pay a registration fee, they would also have to have liability insurance of at least $1 million. 

The steep liability insurance required reflects the potential for harm done by unskilled, unsupervised, and untrained technicians. It will force a lot of businesses to close, but this is for the safety and protection of clients. 

Bad companies will be weeded out by the insurance industry. Insurers will not risk their funds on high risk technicians and salons. 

Momentum for regulation is a result of a slew of cases in recent years in which clients have alleged they have suffered serious injuries such as burns, discolouration and scarring. Because of the absence of any meaningful regulation, it is not even possible to say how often this has happened. Many people suggest that the cases on record point to even greater problems in the industry as a result of unlicensed and untrained practitioners. Regulation promises to bring accountability to the industry and protect clients.