In researching for the most recent iteration of our US Markets for Laser, Light, and Energy Devices report, I was unsurprised to find that there are few regulations surrounding who can operate these devices in North America. In North America, minimally invasive aesthetics procedures notoriously lack stringent regulations and, as a result, dentists and general practitioners are performing procedures that incorporate facial injectables and aesthetic lasers that penetrate deep into the patient's skin.
Consider laser hair removal, which is the most popular laser, light, and energy device procedure in the US. Canada places no restrictions on who can use devices indicated for the removal of unwanted hair, allowing people with no medical training or familiarity with these products to take on patients. In the US, a number of states (though certainly not all) require that a physician, a physician's assistant, a nurse, or an individual under the supervision of a physician perform the procedure (see here
for more info).
There has been no shortage of criticism surrounding the lack of regulations in both Canada and parts of the US. After all, a ?botched? hair removal can mean one of two things for the patient. In the best case scenario, the procedure is simply ineffective, or only minimally effective, at permanently removing all of the patient's unwanted hair. However, patients can also be permanently scarred from these devices, which has caused many people in both the US and Canada to push for stricter regulations
regarding the operation of these devices, and it has also resulted in a large number of lawsuits over botched procedures
With such potential for harm to the patient, surely specialists would be unanimously calling for tighter regulations. However, to my surprise, many key opinion leaders I spoke with did not see a need for stricter regulations. Most felt that, for many procedures, medispa technicians should be legally allowed to operate these devices, provided that they have had adequate training. The problem, they felt, was that often this training is not being provided, which is leading to poorly performed procedures and dissatisfied or disfigured patients.
Precisely whose responsibility it is to ensure this training is provided (government? supervising physician? person operating the device?) is not the point I wish to raise. Rather, consider the opportunity that has been created by the lack of regulations in the industry. With few regulations in both the US and Canada, there is a large number of people capable of operating these devices, many of whom are not getting the training they need to perform the procedures effectively. There is also a number of manufacturers in the US competing very closely for market share. What better way to stand apart from the competition than by providing this training to medispa technicians?
Regardless of where the responsibility lies, competitors in the market have a significant opportunity to bolster their own market shares by working to meet this unmet need. Doing so benefits the patient, the device operator, and the manufacturer.