A legislative subcommittee was told Tuesday the state needs to get a handle on the growing use of unregulated cosmetic medical procedures.
The list includes using lasers for a variety of procedures including wrinkle and blemish removal, skin tightening and hair removal, the use of injectables such as collagen and Botox and powerful chemical skin peels.
Dr. Cindy Lamerson, a board certified dermatologist, member of the medical examiners board and professor at UNR medical school, said the use of cosmetic procedures has grown 700 percent nationwide since 1997. She said there were 11 million such procedures performed in 2006.
She said there are now nearly 1,500 "medical spas" in the nation. "You don't know who is doing the laser or cosmetic procedures," she said.
She said the person administering the laser treatment may have no training because, in Nevada, there is currently no requirement for such.
In her own practice, Lamerson has diagnosed three cases of melanoma, a potentially fatal skin cancer, which someone at a medical spa misidentified as a sunspot and treated with a laser.
"Non-doctors are not trained to diagnose skin diseases like cancer," she said. "These are not just clients getting their hair cut or nails done. These are patients. These are medical procedures."
And Lamerson said there have been numerous cases of scarring on the face, neck upper lip and back from misuse of a laser to remove unwanted hair from female patients.
She said Nevada isn't alone, that 20 states have no laws addressing laser medical procedures.
Sen. Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, said the hearing was designed to get lawmakers to understand the issues involved and develop a sensible policy that protects the public while allowing medical cosmetic procedures to be provided to those who need them.
She said she has a longer way to go to understand the issues than two other participating legislators " Sen. Joe Heck and Assemblyman Joe Hardy, both medical doctors.
"I just want to know what makes me look 20 years younger," Carlton joked. "They (the medical community) want to make sure what makes me look 20 years younger doesn't kill me in six years."
The committee took no action. Carlton said the issue will be brought back as lawmakers work to develop proposed legislation.
Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at email@example.com or 687-8750.