Saturday, December 6, 2008

Beware of Some Skin Care Treatments

The market for treatments regarding skin care and skin disorders is huge, and there are many new "remedies" that have recently become available and are quite safe when used correctly. In the past on this blog, we have warned readers about the dangers of many cosmetic and personal skin care products that contain toxic chemicals. Today's post covers ELOS (Electrical Light Optical Synergy) and IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) machines, and a recent case in New Zealand involving injury to a woman undergoing such treatments.

Apparently the training and certification given to operators of these machines varies greatly, as does the quality and safety of the equipment itself. The article also points out that certain medications can negatively affect ELOS treatments as well.

The skin is particularly vulnerable, as whatever substances are applied to this organ can go directly into the bloodstream and are quickly dispersed throughout the body. Newer procedures such as ELOS and IPL are usually safe and effective when properly administered; however, care must be taken when choosing this type of therapy. When dealing with any type of skin care, it is critical to research and make sure that the company offering the treatment has properly certified technicians and uses quality equipment. We must also remember that some people's skin is more sensitive because of diet, sun exposure, medications, cosmetics, etc. Thus, not everyone will react in the same manner nor should they all be treated alike. Before any type of skin treatment/therapy make sure that you tell the technician everything about your skin and be certain that you are getting treated by a reputable company. Ask for references. Also, if the pricing seems too good to be true, then check out other companies that are offering the same technique. Skincare therapy is really not a good place to "pinch" pennies.

Call for tight controls after scar therapy goes wrong
4:00AM Wednesday Nov 19, 2008
By Martin Johnston

The beauty therapy industry is calling for tighter controls after a woman who was treated for acne scars ended up with worse damage on her face.

Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Rae Lamb yesterday made public her brief report on the case, in which she said the therapist breached the code of patients' rights on standard of care and informed consent.

The woman had asked the clinic about laser treatments for acne scars and a skin pigmentation disorder which had left dark patches on her cheeks.

She was treated with an ELOS machine (electrical light optical synergy). The next morning she found blisters and swelling where she had been treated.

She sought help from another beauty therapist and a doctor. The clinic apologised, refunded her fee and offered free treatments. She needed further assessment and treatment from a skin specialist.

The therapist had been trained in the use of the machine. She assessed the woman's skin type as highest risk for treatment with ELOS or the related intense pulsed light (IPL) machine.

The woman signed her consent to the therapy, but was "clearly unaware of the risks", Ms Lamb

The consultation form listed medications that could cause problems with ELOS. The woman's acne was concurrently being treated with an antibiotic, but it did not appear the use of this medication was "satisfactorily explored".

Ms Lamb said the Association of Beauty Therapists had no guidelines on therapists' use of ELOS and IPL machines and the industry relied on the machines' distributors for training. The association's policy on IPL focused more on workplace safety than managing risks to clients.

"It appears that there is a need for adequate guidelines/standards regarding the use of ELOS and IPL equipment across the whole sector."

Association president Judy West said yesterday: "We have been really concerned. We are certainly looking into trying to make this more safe for the public." The established distributors provided good training, but many machines were obtained through the internet "and that's creating massive problems".

Russell Smith, owner of InTouch Medical, the distributor of a British IPL machine, said British and US machines cost $50,000 to $100,000. Chinese-made machines could be imported for $7000, but some were so poorly designed that patients could inadvertently be burned.

* Electrical light optical synergy (ELOS).
* Uses an adjustable combination of pulsed light and radio frequencies.
* A development of intense pulsed light (IPL), which uses only light.
* It is estimated there are up to 300 machines in use in New Zealand, mainly by beauty therapists.
* They are different from laser therapy.
* IPL can be used to remove hair, freckles and spider veins. ELOS can also treat acne.
* Beauty therapists, unlike nurses and doctors, are not regulated by statute.

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