When considering investing in an aesthetic laser, it's important to understand how your state regulates lasers of different classifications. For safety purposes, lasers of all kinds are classified based on their ability to injure human skin and eyes.
The classification of a laser ranges from Class 1 to Class 4, some with subclasses, and depends on the power output of the device. Click here to learn more about your state's regulations on different classes of lasers.
Class 4 lasers generally consist of medical and aesthetic laser devices, whereas lasers for therapeutic or pain relief applications typically fall under Class 3B. Occasionally, lasers will have different levels of regulation depending on their classification.
Find more information on laser classification details at https://www.lasersafetyfacts.com/laserclasses.html
Class 1: Class 1 lasers are safe under all operating conditions. These lasers don't pose a safety threat, regardless of their use. An example of a Class 1 laser would be a laser printer or CD player.
Class 2: Class 2 lasers emit visible light and may cause damage with prolonged exposure. Your blinking reflex or natural urge to look away from a Class 2 laser usually prevents any potential damage. A laser pointer used in a lecture hall is an example of a Class 2 laser.
Class 3R, or IIIA: Class 3R or IIIA lasers produce more power than Class 1 or 2 devices and pose a higher risk than a Class 2 device. However, these lasers are still relatively low risk.
Class 3B, or IIIB: Lasers in this class are a little more hazardous. They may be able to heat the skin or other materials but generally don't pose a burn risk. They will, however, cause permanent damage to the eye. For this reason, we highly suggest wearing goggles when operating a laser in this class.
Class 4: Goggles are required for safe and proper use of Class 4 lasers. Class 4 lasers are capable of burning or vaporizing tissue or other materials, in addition to the already stated risks of laser exposure to the eye. Even catching a glance of a Class 4 laser's light off of a reflective surface can still have enough power to cause irreversible damage.
A Note on IPL Devices
Beyond your laser's classification, check to see if your state is observing additional rules or stipulations regarding Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) devices. IPL is the generic term used to describe broad-spectrum light emission. An IPL system typically produces some combination of wavelengths between 400-1200nm with varying widths of light emission (i.e., 650-1200nm, 500-625nm, etc.).
IPL devices are capable of treating pigmentation, veins, and hair removal, but due to their increased absorption in skin tissue, they may see additional scrutiny. When used responsibly, IPL devices are very safe and effective. However, IPL can also cause significant superficial damage if not used properly.
First and foremost, it is crucial to know the classification of your laser device. Understanding the type of laser you're interested in and the class it falls under will help guide your search for state regulations. Even more so, it will clarify whether or not you're qualified to fire certain types of lasers with your credentials. Of course, reach out to Astanza or your existing Astanza representative for any questions you may have regarding laser classifications and state regulations.
“Unless you specifically know the laser you want to use is Class 3B or lower, assume it’s a Class 4 laser. And if your device isn’t class 4...do your research into that laser’s FDA clearance, journal articles, and any reputable source (away from the manufacturer) to make sure it’s approved and capable of what you hope to offer."
- Justin Arnosky, VP of Clinical Education for Astanza Laser