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Safety Tips / Complications

Safety Tips for Patients Considering Cosmetic / Dermatologic Laser and Energy-Based Device Procedures

Approved by Board of Directors, American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, Inc., April 13, 2008

Laser surgery is a safe and effective therapy for numerous medically-necessary and elective cosmetic procedures. Before undergoing a laser procedure, the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS) recommends that individuals considering laser surgery keep these safety tips in mind:

Find out who will be administering the treatment: If the procedure is not being performed by a physician, make sure that a supervising physician is present on-site and readily available to address any problems that might arise.  Be sure to check the certification of the person performing the procedure.

Ask questions: What are the risks? What is the cost? How long is the recuperation period? What post-treatment care will be required? Who will be performing the procedure (doctor, NP, etc.,) and what are that person's credentials and experience?

Discuss your medical history with your physician: Be sure to mention any pre-existing medical conditions, previous medical or cosmetic procedures, current medications including herbal remedies and vitamin supplements, history of scarring, history of infections like herpes. Also mention to your physician if you are tan as this may affect treatment.

Ask if this laser is right for your skin type: Has this laser been approved for your skin type and hair color and for use on the area of the body for which you are seeking treatment?

Request a patch test: If you have sensitive skin, ask your physician to perform a test spot. It will be much easier to treat a complication on a small patch of skin than a larger area.

Manage expectations: Be sure to discuss with your physician what results can reasonably be expected. Will your condition improve after one treatment or will you require multiple treatments for optimal results?

Let your physician know in advance if you have a history of scarring or herpes: Both can affect treatment outcomes.

Don’t delay: If you experience intense pain or unexpected side effects following a procedure, call your physician immediately. Don’t wait to see if it will go away.


The American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, Inc. is the world’s largest scientific organization dedicated to promoting research, education and high standards of clinical care in the field of medical laser applications. It provides a forum for the exchange of scientific information and participation in communicating the latest developments in laser medicine and surgery to clinicians, research investigators, government and regulatory agencies, and the public.

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