ARPANSA to investigate radiation risks of cosmetic treatments

Cosmetic dermatology

By Siobhan Calafiore

26 Jun 2024

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency will investigate the health impacts of non-ionising radiation cosmetic treatments to determine whether the industry should be more closely regulated.

Together with Monash University researchers, they are calling on cosmetic service providers to encourage their customers to participate in a health survey, which aims to identify and quantify treatment-related adverse effects.

ARPANSA’s Health Impact Assessment assistant director Associate Professor Ken Karipidis (PhD) said only Tasmania, Queensland and Western Australia had regulatory controls in place for cosmetic use of non-ionising radiation, although this was limited to certain applications such as laser and intense pulsed light.

“As the Australian Government’s primary authority on radiation protection, we want to ensure that appropriate measures are in place to keep people safe when undergoing cosmetic procedures that involve the use of non-ionising radiation,” he said.

The researchers hope to recruit service providers to help them identify individuals receiving any energy-based treatments using non-ionising radiation – including laser, intense pulsed light (IPL), light-emitting diode (LED), ultrasound, radiofrequency or electromagnetic field (EMF) device.

These include treatments for:

  • hair removal or promoting hair growth
  • skin treatments aimed at improving aesthetic appearance (including rejuvenation, resurfacing, skin tightening, pigment and vascular lesions, scar reduction, or treating the appearance of minor acne)
  • tattoo removal
  • body sculpting, contouring and lipolysis
  • vaginal rejuvenation (where undertaken for cosmetic purposes only).

Survey data over a 12-week period will be used to investigate the types of adverse effects that can occur – such as redness and swelling, burns, pigment damage and scarring – as well as the frequency and circumstances.

Researchers will also investigate broader impacts on daily activities and wellbeing.

“As well as helping us understand the rate and type of injuries occurring, this study may also help to improve safety standards across the industry and provide greater assurance to potential clients,” said Monash University PhD student Zoe Thomas.

A link to the Explanatory Statement for Service Providers is provided here.

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