Laser has been there since long, the very first use of this technology dates back to 1960s. There has been tremendous expansion in this field, from treating acne, skin rejuvenation to hair removal – all can be done with lasers. Most commonly used lasers for these treatments are Nd Yag, Diode Laser and IPL. Lasers for hair removal are being used extensively these days. During these treatments while the patients need to take precautions it is equally important for the technicians to be careful while doing the procedure. Here are a few dos and donts that these laser operators need to follow:

– A trained professional needs to perform these treatments as in the Nd Yag procedure the laser affects the tissue at a depth of 4-6mm into the dermis destroying the hair follicles. An inexperienced operator can cause profound thermal damage (tissue burns) to the patients. However, Diode laser and IPL are safer procedures.

– Operators should always wear eye protection as the lasers are hazardous to the eye. Our eyes have a natural protective mechanism in their blinking reflex which limits the exposure of the inner eye to very intense light. However, the laser beam intensities are such that injury can occur faster than blinking reflex in mere 0.2-0.25 seconds. Nd Yag lasers pose maximum danger for the eyes.

– The probability of exposure to some parts of the skin from a reflected laser beam remains high so the operator needs to be careful. The injury can lead to redness or a burn, which is equivalent to a sunburn or first degree burn. Concentrated exposure can result in 2nd and 3rd degree burns also. The severity of injury depends on the length of exposure and penetration depth of laser involved, like a short pulsed laser can penetrate deeper even in a second. Hair removal lasers do not cause injury as they are used safely on patients. But since the dose J/cm2 for the patient and the technician differs according to the skin colour and hair density, it can cause injury to the person doing it if exposed.

– Instruments like tweezers and forceps should be carefully placed during the procedure as reflection from flat, mirror like surfaces are most serious.

– While using the hand held systems operator should always remember that your hand is the closest to the laser target.

– The person carrying out the procedure should make sure that the number of people inside the room is limited. Any staff or bystanders can be potentially exposed to misdirected laser beams or reflected beams which can harm them.

– The operator should make sure that the machines are serviced and are not moved much from their place, to avoid electric shock.

Responsibilities of the authorities:

They should provide necessary safety equipment like eye protection for the technicians. And only trained personnel should be allowed near the machines including the one who is operating the laser and who is assisting the technician. Installation of interlocks should be done to make sure that nobody comes in or goes out during the laser use. The owner also needs to get the machines serviced from time to time to avoid possibility of electric shock. The laser machine should always be serviced by authorized personnel as they are the ones who gain access to the beam delivery system. A laser safety operator should be appointed who manages everything related to the laser treatments, starting from taking care of the procedures, laying down the safety policies to educating the patients.

Responsibilities of a Laser Safety Operator:

– Taking care of who will be doing the laser and who will be assisting.

– Documenting laser utilization.

– Monitoring laser safety.

– Maintaining laser supplies and equipment.

– Helping in formulating safety policies which includes eye safety, fire safety, smoke evacuation and laser documentation.

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