Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Bill Could Take Laser Treatments Out of Spas

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 2:43 PM

Thinking about popping over to the spa for some laser hair removal?

Not if the Tennessee legislature passes a new bill regulating cosmetic and aesthetic procedures.

House Bill 2558 would require that "all cosmetic or aesthetic procedures be performed by a physician or delegated by the physician to a person under the supervision of the physician."

In other words, licensed aestheticians and registered nurses would no longer be allowed to perform certain cosmetic procedures without the direct supervision of a physician. Currently, spas and aesthetic centers are only required to maintain an affiliation with a licensed physician, but the new bill would require that a physician either perform the procedures him or herself, or be on site for direct supervision.

"I would have to file bankruptcy," says Mona Sappenfield, owner of Mona Spa and Laser Center. "There's no way I could afford to have those people work for me. Everything I've worked for for 40 years is going to be in the toilet."

Two witnesses testified before a House Health and Human Resources subcommittee about physical damage they sustained in botched laser procedures.

But Sappenfield disagrees that the bill would somehow make laser procedures safer for patients.

"[The bill's supporters] are talking about this being for the public welfare, but there's nothing in the bill that talks about training. Doctors get the same training we do for these procedures. The bill doesn't fix what they say they want to fix."

She views the bill as an attack on small businesses, for which procedures like laser treatments, Botox, facial fillers, and chemical peels have become a prime source of income over the past decade.

"Tennessee Medical Association is lobbying big for this bill," she says. "There's an ongoing campaign by the TMA to pick on the low hanging fruit in an industry they'd like to be in. And Mona Spa can't afford a lobbyist."

Once the bill leaves the subcommittee, it will be put to a vote by the full Health and Human Resources Committee. Sappenfield is hoping to stop the bill before then, and focus attention on legislating safe procedural methods instead.

"We're asking for a task force over the summer to bring stakeholders to the table to write acts and laws into legislation that makes sense," she says.

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