Your patients may think of the laser treatment rooms within your aesthetic practice as magical places that make wrinkles and redness disappear, unwanted tattoos and hair vanish and a more youthful complexion appear. But, if not properly stocked and supervised, these treatment rooms can pose a threat to both providers and patients in the form of permanent eye damage, burns and communicable disease. To help practices minimize these risks, we asked laser safety professionals to share the most effective laser safety practices for aesthetic laser providers.
Laser Safety Basics
Before starting any laser treatments, practices need to make sure that the treatment rooms in which these procedures take place are properly equipped for patient and provider safety. In addition to autoclaving all equipment—including treatment heads—that are used on patients, and disinfecting the rooms between treatments, there are several concerns unique to the use of lasers.
Both operators and patients must wear protective eyewear during all laser treatments. “Eyewear must be appropriate for the wavelength of each laser being used, and that goes for the patient and the provider,” says Daniel Ramon, a manager with CLS Surgimedics, which offers smoke evacuation units for aesthetic laser facilities.
At the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of Northern California in Sacramento, California, founded by Suzanne Kilmer, MD, laser patients and operators wear safety glasses with an optical density of six or greater to reduce the risk of eye damage. Because the goggles are created to block specific wavelengths, providers and staff members are trained to select goggles that cover every wavelength used during the treatment session. In addition, patients receiving laser treatments within the orbital rim must don protective eyewear with internal metal shields, also called corneal shields.
Facilities should place signs on the door of the treatment room during a procedure. “State that a laser is being used, and also note which type,” says Ramon. He recommends that providers keep treatment room lights as bright as operations permit. “I also recommend hanging extra eyewear outside of the room, so that anyone entering mid-procedure will be equipped with appropriate protection,” he says.
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