Knowing how to safely choose a provider of cosmetic laser treatments, such as hair or tattoo removal, can be a tricky task – but if you live in Wales, then the Healthcare Inspectorate Wales have made it a lot easier to protect yourself from unscrupulous cowboys.
It’s important to know that there is a Welsh register to help you so that you don’t go and visit an un-registered clinic for laser treatment.
As a devolved country, Wales is responsible for some of its own legislation and regulation choices, and this can, and does, differ from the rest of the countries which make up the United Kingdom. This is certainly the case when it comes to the regulation of those providing cosmetic treatments using lasers and intense pulse light (IPL) devices.
In Wales, the Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) is responsible for registering clinics and salons that provide cosmetic and medical laser treatment including tattoo removal, hair removal, skin rejuvenation, acne, fat reduction and dermatological treatments.
Regulation is not the same in England, where the Care Quality Commission (CQC) do not register and inspect private clinics who are using lasers for cosmetic-only reasons such as hair removal. (Local borough authorities in the London area do licence cosmetic laser clinics, but this is not widespread practice outside of the capital.)
All of this means that before you make an appointment to visit a laser clinic in Wales, you can check the HIW website – www.hiw.org.uk/find-service - to make sure that the clinic is registered, and you can even download their latest inspection report. If you’re unable to do that, or you find that you have simply walked into a laser clinic, ask to see their registration certificate; it should be visible and displayed on their wall for you to see as you attend the clinic. If they don’t have one, then they may be un-registered and you should probably leave!
Unfortunately, mobile laser services are not legally required to register with the HIW in Wales. This means that if you are considering such a service, you need to be even more careful and make sure that you ask appropriate questions to protect yourself from harm as much as possible. This includes asking them if they employ a Laser Protection Advisor (LPA) to ensure the safe operation of the laser equipment, as well as getting details of their qualifications and training. If they are unable or unwilling to provide this, or it seems faked, then use caution and avoid the service, choosing a HIW registered, non-mobile service instead.
The HIW is also there to help if you have a bad experience with a registered laser clinic. They will investigate the clinic if you raise any concerns with them about the clinic or the treatment that you experienced. If there is a problem, this could provide a great early warning to stop others from having a bad experience and will allow the HIW to investigate and advise the clinic about its future practices.
Sadly, the regulation of the sector across the UK is quite varied and often tricky to understand, but at least if you’re looking for a clinic providing cosmetic laser treatments in Wales you have peace of mind that you can check the HIW register. Rest assured, any cosmetic laser clinic in Wales listed as verified in the Consulting Room directory has been verified against the HIW register before inclusion.