Risks of Adding Gauze to Ocular Protection During Aesthetic Laser Treatment

Lasers can ignite gauze used as eye protection.
Effect of four lasers on gauze and ocular shields.

Gauze should not be used underneath patient protective eyewear during aesthetic laser treatments, say authors Christine E Wamsley, BA, John E Hoopman, CMLSO, and Jeffrey M Kenkel, MD.

For their study, published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal (November 27, 2020), the researchers noted that it is not uncommon for practitioners to place either dry or wet gauze underneath external patient protective eyewear when performing laser procedures, despite potential risks.

To better understand the dangers, they evaluated the effect of four commonly used lasers—2,940nm Erbium-doped Yttrium Aluminum Garnet (Er:YAG) laser, the 532nm Potassium Titanyl Phosphate (KTP) laser, the 1,064nm Neodymium-doped Yttrium Aluminum Garnet (Nd:YAG) laser and a Lumenis UltraPulse 10,600nm carbon dioxide (CO2) laser—on dry gauze pads, wet gauze pads and adhesive external eye shields.

When exposed to the 2,940nm Er:YAG and 10,600nm CO2 lasers, dry gauze smoked on the first pulse and ignited on the second pulse. There was no damage to the wet gauze or adhesive eye shields after eight and four pulses, respectively. The 532nm KTP lasers caused no damage to any of the materials after 30 pulses. After one pulse of the 1,064nm Nd:YAG laser, the dry gauze smoked; after two pulses, the adhesive eye shields sparked, but there was no damage to the underlying surface after 30 pulses.

Based on these findings, the author concluded: “The results of our study highlight the inherent flammability of gauze when exposed to lasers commonly used to address aesthetic facial concerns. Although moistened gauze conveyed more protection than dry gauze, these results do not guarantee patient ocular safety. Therefore, the authors do not recommend the use of any gauze under protective eyewear.”

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