Medical and Cosmetic Laser Safety Information

Our Laser Protection Adviser (LPA) services assist businesses and public sector departments to assess and manage the risks from optical radiation sources and ensure they meet the requirements of current health and safety legislation. In certain industries (private medical and aesthetic) it is sometimes a legal requirement that a Laser Protection Adviser (LPA) be appointed.

Lasers and IPLs - physical characteristics

Laser light

Laser light is a typically an intense beam of optical radiation. It is different from all other light sources in the way it is generated. Typically laser light exhibits the following properties:

- Single colour (monochromatic)
- Collimated (non divergent)

The second property can be seen in the example of a laser pointer. The size of the spot does not spread out in the same way the light from a traditional handheld torch would. This unique property means that whilst the power of a laser may one hundred times lower than a household light-bulb, the beam can be hazardous at a distance of hundreds of meters away from the source.

Lasers are typically named according to their laser medium. This is the material that sits inside a cavity in a laser machine where the laser light is generated. Each laser medium emits light of a characteristic wavelength.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

IPL (intense pulsed light) devices are also known as IPLS (intense pulsed light sources), full spectrum, non-coherent, and broadband light. These devices are a newer innovation in the cosmetic industry and emit light that has slightly different properties to a laser beam:

- Not monochromatic (broad spectrum)
- Generally more divergent

However, since these devices are capable of delivering very intense bursts of light they usually incur similar safety precautions as lasers.

Uses of IPLs include hair removal, acne treatment, skin rejuvenation and other cosmetic procedures. Due to the broad spectrum of light, filters can be used to select specific portions of this spectrum enabling a range of treatments to be undertaken with the same machine.

Light is generated in a very different way to laser light. Typically a Xenon Flash Lamp is used. This is basically a glass tube filled with Xenon gas. A large current is pulsed through the gas which energises the xenon atoms which promptly de-excite (spontaneous emission) to give of light photons.

Light is actually given off at a variety of discrete wavelengths. However, these are sufficiently spaced out over the visible spectrum that to the human eye the output appears to be a white light. Filters are used to alter the output spectrum at the point of treatment.

IPL head and filters
IPL treatment handpiece and filter set

Difference between Laser and other therapeutic intense light sources

Whilst the therapeutic effects of Laser light and light from an IPL device can be very similar, the way the light is generated is very different. A comparison between the properties of the light is given below.

Laser light = single colour (monochromatic)
IPL = broad spectrum (polychromatic)

Laser light = can be collimated so that it does not diverge for hundreds of meters
IPL = diverges very quickly

Laser light = can be operated continuously or pulsed
IPL = operated in pulses (in the case of a Xenon lamp)

See Also:

IPL/LASER COSMETIC LEGAL REQUIREMENTS
SAFETY STANDARDS - AN OVERVIEW

We are very flexible with our LPA services which can involve; one-off advisory site-visits (risk assessments etc.), training sessions or annual appointments. The efficient way in which our business is run also allows us to provide these services to our customers at competitive prices.

LPA for health and beauty clinics using laser/IPL LPA for education, research, industry, communications LPA for hospitals, dentists, vets and clinics LPA for education, research, industry, communications etc. LPA for laser tattoo removal LPA for education, research, industry, communications etc. LPA for medical and cosmetic uses for laser/IPL

Laser Protection Advisor/Adviser - Laser Safety - Core of Knowledge Training Course

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