Recent press and TV coverage has highlighted the dangers of IPL treatments in the hands of improperly or insufficiently trained beauty therapists. Coupled with cheap, sometimes illegally imported equipment, it spells disaster for the consumer – and for business.
However, there is Government accredited training for IPL and laser therapies available in some states of Australia. In New South Wales, Fuss Beauty College offers such training.
Ilse Taumberger, college principal, says that pulsed light and laser treatments have become widely available over the past few years as affordable equipment has flooded the beauty therapy market. As a result, treatment prices have dropped and more people have opted for hair reduction and skin rejuvenation treatments.
“Unfortunately, only minimal training is given with this new and high tech equipment, leading to an increase in unsafe and ineffective treatments,” Mrs Taumberger says. “I think the public are finally becoming more aware of problems that have been encountered (such as burns and ineffective treatments). Also, professionals such as doctors, nurses, and beauty therapists who are educated and are doing the right thing want to see some regulations put into place to protect their professionalism and stop untrained operators from causing damage to clients.”
Some media reports have suggested the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is not taking a tough enough stance against cheap, illegal imports, which can undermine reputable companies and machines.
“Consumers and beauty therapists alike should only choose TGA-listed equipment for these procedures,” Mrs Taumberger urges. “Beauty therapists have to take responsibility for their own education as well. When you buy a car, the car dealer is not going to show you how to drive – you need a license first. It is the same with IPL and laser equipment: while a manufacturer will demonstrate their product’s features, it is not their responsibility to teach a therapist how to perform treatments.”
Mrs Taumberger feels that the media coverage is helping increase public awareness, which, in turn, may encourage therapists to further educate themselves so they can provide safe and effective treatments.
“Government regulations to enforce a certain amount of training for operators of laser and IPL equipment would certainly help lift the standards of this industry. However, despite the existence of bodies within the medical profession and beauty therapy associations such as the Association of Professional Aestheticians of Australia (APAA), who support the industry and push for legislation on a government level, there are still no regulations in place. Realistically, it comes down to the public becoming selective in choosing operators with government accredited training and beauty therapists taking responsibility for their own education,” she says.
Fuss Beauty College gives operators a solid background knowledge of the physics involved in laser and IPL treatments and an understanding of this complex technology, so they are better equipped to make decisions when purchasing this type of equipment. The college offers two courses; one in hair reduction and one in skin rejuvenation. The training runs over eight days and includes two days dedicated to laser safety. The courses are held monthly and allow flexible class attendance.
The training covers theoretical and practical components, and includes the physics of light, difference between lasers and pulsed light systems and how they work, how light interacts with different types of tissue and how this is applied to different treatments. It also covers safety issues, including who is responsible for what, how to manage hazards created by IPL and laser light, and how to protect the operator and client from these hazards.
An equally important topic covered is how to recognise different skin and hair conditions, what can be treated and what should not be treated, as well as what needs to be referred to the medical profession. This allows the therapist to properly select clients by assessing their presenting problem, enquiring about their medical history for any contraindications and assessing their skin type for suitability. Therapists learn how to perform a thorough consultation: explaining the procedure, expected outcomes and side effects to the client. Only then can a client make an informed decision and sign a consent form.
“My students walk away with understanding and confidence. Therapists new to this industry will be able to assess and select clients properly and perform test patches, assess them and then perform safe and effective treatments. Therapists who have performed treatments for a while find that they have broadened their knowledge, filled the gaps and have renewed confidence in their treatment practices,” Mrs Taumberger says. “During my training I strongly encourage people to continue the learning process. I also encourage my students to contact me should they have any questions or need support in any way.”
Fuss Beauty College is accredited by the Vocational Education and Training Accreditation Board (VETAB), the accrediting body for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) in NSW. For colleges, the accreditation process is a long and rigorous process. VETAB ensures that a training organisation delivers courses to the standards of the Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF).
“It is hard to understand why we are lacking regulations for the use of laser and pulsed light systems, especially when there are some regulations in other states and sometimes very strict regulations in other countries,” Mrs Taumberger says. “It often comes down to financial issues and how to monitor regulations. I believe this should be a small issue when it is so important to ensure the safety of both users of the equipment and clients receiving treatments.”
For further course information and dates, contact: Fuss Beauty College (02) 9326 2211 or visit www.fuss.com.au