Decoding Laser Regulations

Decoding Laser Regulations

In this article, you will learn all about Laser Laws and Regulations including:

Understanding Cosmetic Laser Treatment Safety Laws

When studying the laws and regulations governing laser operation in the United States, it is clear that most states lack clearly defined rules. Each state has its own unique set of rules, many of which are vague and complex. With the increase in the number of cosmetic laser procedures performed, the laws and regulations continue to change.

Always Changing

The information can generally be found in numerous resources including state cosmetology boards, state legislative boards, state nursing boards, and state medical boards. It is important to also recognize these laws and regulations are constantly changing and the information in this article may not be completely accurate after a certain time.

Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal is considered a separate procedure in many states. Laser hair removal does not necessarily require the use of a laser device and can be performed with the use of an Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) device, which further complicates the understanding of these regulations. IPL devices in general have less regulation surrounding their operators.

This article does not address the use of IPL devices and only addresses the use of laser devices. Laser hair removal is also the most common procedure to result in patient injury and litigation. This is interesting because laser hair removal is also the least regulated procedure.

Understanding the Laws

The best way to divide and understand the laws and regulations of laser operation is by considering three categories: delegation, supervision, and operation. Delegation is defined as who can delegate a laser procedure to another individual. Supervision is defined by describing which procedures require supervision and who is qualified to supervise. The operation of a laser for this blog is simply who is allowed to fire a laser.

The variables display significant overlap and this can be confusing. Some state laws and regulations allow only physicians to delegate laser procedures. However, an important caveat to this is that physicians can be classified as those with degrees in dental medicine, osteopathic medicine, optometry, podiatry, naturopathic medicine, or others and are not limited to those with a doctor of medicine.

Fewer states allow laser procedures to be delegated by non-physicians and even fewer allow laser procedures to be performed independently. Some states have exclusively limited the operation of a laser to licensed physicians by excluding laser and light devices in procedures that can be delegated to licensed or unlicensed persons.

A select few states have no searchable information regarding regulations, guidance, statutes, or laws on the operation of laser and energy-based devices. These states are Missouri, New York, Nevada (only comments on lasers on the eye), Pennsylvania, Virginia (only information on laser hair removal), Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Most states consider the operation of a laser device as “the practice of medicine.”

Choose your Laser Provider Carefully

We feel it is important for the patient to inquire about the level of training of the individual performing his or her cosmetic laser procedure. Studies have demonstrated an increased risk of injury and increased litigation in procedures performed by non-physicians.

Many nonmedical offices or franchises are individuals who are untrained in performing laser procedures but choose to offer cosmetic laser procedures in their practice because they are lucrative. They also place their employees on commission to get your business in the door.

Find A Better You Med Spa

At Find A Better You Med Spa, we frequently see patients who have had complications from cosmetic laser procedures performed by unqualified physicians at other medical offices practicing outside the scope of their training. It is not the Wild West when it comes to cosmetic laser procedures and the consumer should be cautious in selecting a qualified provider or they may get burned.

Laser Tech (Jodie)

You can rest knowing that Jodie has been completely trained with 40+ hours in all of our lasers here at Find A Better You. She also has been operating the same lasers since 2018, so she is well-versed in the laser she is operating. On top of the training, Dr. James Sturm D.O. DABA, FIPP has the confidence in Jodie to delegate our laser procedures to her.

Dr. James Sturm

Dr. Sturm is always onsite while the lasers are in use just in case a question arises. Not many Medical spas or franchises have a physician onsite. Most have a physician who will oversee the spa. That means that the physician is most likely in a different state and probably never stepped foot into the spa or franchise.


In summary, decoding laser laws and regulations in the U.S. reveals a complex landscape with vague and ever-changing rules, particularly in the realm of cosmetic laser procedures. Notably, laser hair removal, a commonly performed yet less regulated procedure, poses a higher risk of injury and litigation.

Understanding the nuanced categories of delegation, supervision, and operation is crucial, given the variability in state laws. This blog shows the importance of careful selection when choosing a laser provider, highlighting the risks associated with unqualified practitioners driven by financial incentives.

Find A Better You Med Spa stands out by prioritizing safety, with laser tech Jodie's extensive training. Also, Dr. James Sturm's onsite supervision offers a contrast to other practices with less direct physician involvement. Consumer vigilance is emphasized to ensure a secure and qualified experience in the realm of cosmetic laser procedures.

Want to learn more? Contact Find A Better You Med Spa today, or call (636) 205-4070.

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