Unlicensed Practice of Medicine by Facial Specialist at Med Spas


You may be surprised to know that as a Florida attorney specializing in cosmetic procedure injuries many of my cases are not against licensed healthcare providers. In fact, the majority of the lawsuits I file on behalf of my clients who suffered injuries from botched cosmetic procedures are against defendants practicing medicine without a license, such as cosmetologist, massage therapists, electrologists, and facial specialist. The problem that I see daily in my practice is dangerous technologies, such as body contouring and laser hair removal medical devices, end up in the hands of inexperienced and untrained personnel who do not understand the serious risks of using the devices.

For example, laser hair removal devices, if used improperly, can seriously burn a person’s skin leaving them with hyperpigmented or hypopigmented marks all over the treatment area for months or even years. And, depending on the person’s skin type, the scaring can be permanent.  This is why in Florida it is illegal to operate a laser hair removal device without an electrologist license and the direct supervision of a licensed physician. Another example is radio frequency devices that can cause unwanted fat loss in a person’s face. Under Florida law, cosmetologists are not allowed to operate any medical device or products that permeate the skin. Only licensed medical providers should be using FDA approved medical devices on their patients, because only they have the proper knowledge and training to do so.

In addition to failing to properly use powerful medical devices or prescription products, persons without proper medical training cannot properly inform their “patients” about the risks of the cosmetic procedure. I had a case recently where a cosmetologist that performed a facial procedure on my client with a laser device did not know that it could cause serious injury. Consequently, she could not properly inform my client (her “patient”) of the risk of undergoing the laser procedure. As a result, my client suffered an injury that required her to undergo two surgeries to correct. If she had been told that the procedure carries serious risks, she would not have agreed to do it. In this particular case, the cosmetologist was using an FDA cleared medical device that she purchased at a trade show from a distributer. She did not even have a copy of the user manual that explains how to properly use the device!  And, this is one of many examples where the person performing a cosmetic procedure did not have the necessary medical expertise to understand and appreciate the risk to their clients.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to make sure that the professional performing cosmetic procedures on patients is qualified to do so. Here is the breakdown of what each non-medical provider is allowed to do under Florida law:

Cosmetologist/Facial Specialist – can perform simple facials with creams and serums, can perform light chemical peels, and do microdermabrasion. But they cannot use any product or device that causes bodily intrusion. Prohibited procedures include application of permanent makeup, the use of laser and intense pulsed light (IPL) treatments, ultrasound and high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) treatments, radiation, plasma pen, Hyaluron pen, injections, and FDA approved medical devices, all of which are beyond the scope of a cosmetology license and full and facial registrations.

Massage Therapist – can perform massage by hand or other device that assists the therapist with the performance of the massage. But, they cannot use body contouring devices on client that change the structure of the body of the client. Recently, the Florida Board of Massage Therapy issued a Final Order finding that a massage therapist could not perform lipo laser on her clients because it is “not within the scope of the practice of massage therapy in Florida.”

Electrologist – can only perform laser hair removal under the direct supervision of a licensed physician. An electrologist must have a written protocol with the supervising physician which requires the doctor to conduct a consultation with the patient before undergoing the laser hair removal procedure. An electrologist cannot practice without a doctor and cannot perform an independent assessment of a person’s candidacy for laser hair removal.

If you have been injured during a cosmetic procedure and want to have your case evaluated by an experienced attorney contact LOU LAW today at 1-855-554-6534.

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