State proposes temporary ban on certain laser procedures

State proposes temporary ban on certain laser procedures »Play Video

PORTLAND, Ore. – The state of Oregon has proposed emergency action after the KATU Problem Solvers shed light on the lax regulations in the beauty laser industry. The Oregon Health Licensing Agency will be asking the state Cosmetology Board to temporarily ban certain laser procedures.
The Problem Solvers investigation started in March when customers of the now-defunct Forever Young laser spas in Beaverton and Hillsboro complained.
Mistee Thomas, a Forever Young client, says a technician zapped a live vein more than 20 times until she was crying in pain.
The investigation then expanded when employees of Forever Young and another spa, Islands Tanning, claimed estheticians were not being properly trained, and in some cases, were not licensed.
"We have taken the complaints seriously," says Holly Mercer, Executive Director of the Oregon Health Licensing Agency. "And we have listened to consumer concerns."
Here are the new proposed rules:

  • Spa estheticians would only be able to use lasers for hair removal for the next 180 days.
  • Spa estheticians would not be able to perform other procedures, like laser re-surfacing, spider vein removal, wrinkle reduction and acne scar removal for the next 180 days.
  • If medi-spa estheticians are working under doctor supervision but outside of their expertise, they'd need to disclose that to their patients and document it.

These temporary rules will need to be approved by the state Cosmetology Board at its Oct. 14 meeting.  If approved, the state would then hear public comment about permanent rule changes.
"Everyone will be able to comment, and the rule will be fully vetted,” explains Mercer. "We just felt like there is a sense of urgency, and we listened to the media, and we listened to consumers, and we wanted to take some action."
"I didn't have any idea that this was coming down the pipe," says Cora Jaques, owner of Radiant You Laser & Anti-Aging Center in Eugene.
Jaques says she's poured every dollar that she has into her business. She was blindsided by Tuesday's OHLA's proposed emergency action. She explains that the changes would eliminate the bulk of her business.
"Ninety-eight percent (of my business) will be impacted by this," estimates Jaques. "I will be closed, if this happens."
If the state Cosmetology Board adopts these temporary rule changes, customers who've prepaid hundreds of dollars for laser packages could have no estheticians to do the work, and spas may not have the cash on hand to make refunds.
"I'll find it, if I have to refund," promises Jaques. "I'm not one of those people who will close my doors ever and not pay my debts that I owe someone else, but I hope that it doesn't come to that."
Forever Young laser spas did close their doors in late July without refunding customers.