Who is Qualified to Do Laser Skin Resurfacing?

Was about to get a laser surgery procedure done at a laser clinic. But my friend said that a nurse is not the right person to do laser resurfacing. He thought only a dermatologist should do lasers. Is this true? Who is most trained in laser treatments of the skin?

Doctor Answers 14

Laser Resurfacing

Depending on the state and the class of laser, the answer on who is legally able to do lasers vary.  For laser resurfacing, a board certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist may be best. In any case, ensure that the person doing the treatment is licensed, trained, experienced, and understanding your treatment objectives.

West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Only an MD should perform laser resurfacing

Laser skin resurfacing is one of our most effective treatments for improvement of aged skin. But as with all things -- with increased reward comes increased risk. It is imperative that you seek a knowledgeable, skilled, and respected practitioner.

In general, those physicians with the most skill, experience, expertise and knowledge of laser and skin tissue interaction are Board Certified (very important!) Dermatologist or Plastic Surgeons. Some ENT or Ophthalmologist are also particularly interested and adept in aesthetic laser surgery.

Dermatologist have been the pioneers of most cosmetic laser surgery used today, and generally learned and developed these skills during their residency training. Of great concern in our environment today are the many non-aesthetically trained physicians who have only learned how to operate a laser during a day or weekend course, sponsored by the salesman and his company.

The best laser surgeons usually own a fair number of lasers, perform laser surgery most any and every day they are in the office, have extensive training during residency and continue that education throughout life. They should be members of their most respected national organizations, such as the American Academy of Dermatology, The American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, or the American Society of Laser, Medicine and Surgery. These groups limit access to only those physicians with the proper credentials. Also, consider asking physicians in your area whom you trust and respect for their recommendations.

I never, and none of the respected laser surgeons I know, would allow a nurse or technician to perform laser resurfacing. This procedure is best reserved for the most skilled and experienced practitioners.

Jeffrey C. Poole, MD
Metairie Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Board Certified Dermatologist

Depending on the state you are living in, some states only allow MD’s to do resurfacing, others allow MD's and nurses, and others allow medical assistants.  The Clinic most qualified is the one who is working very closely with a Plastic Surgeon or Board Certified Dermatologist, and treats a variety of skin conditions and skin types.

Sonia Badreshia-Bansal, MD
Bay Area Dermatologist
3.9 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Laser resurfacing tips

First, realize that it is easy for anyone or any company (any kind of doctor, nurse, spa, etc.) to buy a laser. There are far too many non experts selling laser services to the public. Owning a laser and buying an advertisement in a local magazine does not make one an expert. With so much on the market it is no wonder there is a lot of public confusion about who to go to or how it is even best to resurface the skin. The laser companies are driving public opinion regarding the benefit of laser resurfacing.

No one has even proven that laser resurfacing is any bit better than "chemical peeling". In fact there are many advangages to chemical peeling if preformed by someone well trained (this does not mean at a weekend course); facial plastic surgeon, plastic surgeon, dermatologist. Chemical peeling is very effective in expert hands. But, remember not everyone with a shingle is an expert at chemical peels.

Check to see if your doctor has publications in "peer reviewed" journals on the subject of chemical peel/laser resurfacing. This may help in your search for accurate information. A news or magazine article is not "peer reviewed". Peer reviewed journals will usually be found on "Pub Med". Watch out for the claims of memberships in bogus organizations or articles in quasi medical journals that are created for self promotion. There are many out of field doctors forming groups or websites claiming unsubstantiated expertise.

Phillip Langsdon, MD
Germantown Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Dermatologists and lasers

Listen to your friend. Board Certified Dermatologists are truly the best trained individuals for laser treatments. They are the most familiar with all skin types. Not only are the best behind the laser, they will also help you with the right regimen before and after these procedures. Good luck.

Bruce E. Katz, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
3.8 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Laser Resurfacing should only be done by qualified physicians

Do to the potential risks of the procedure, only physicians who have been well trained in these procedures such as dermatologist or plastic surgeons should be performing these treatments.

Steven E. Rasmussen, MD, FAAD
Austin Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Laser Resurfacing should be performed by doctors only

In my opinion, laser skin resurfacing should be done by physicians only. There are different types of physicians that are well-trained in using a variety of lasers and which include Dermatologists, Plastic Surgeons, Facial Plastic Surgones, and Occuloplastic Surgeons. I personally do not believe that most lasers (and especially ones used for skin resurfacing) should be used by medical assistants, nurses, physician assistants and so forth. The main reason is simply because physicians have the knowledge, background and training to properly utilize the lasers and handle any potential complications or side effects that may occur. Resurfacing lasers in the wrong hands, such as inexperienced or technically deficient hands, can cause major damage if used in the wrong way.

Channing R. Barnett, MD
New York Dermatologist
4.1 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Laser is a powerful tool

A laser is broadly defined as "light amplified by stimulated emission of radiation", and more narrowly defined by the specific wavelength of the laser. For cosmetic purposes, it definitely belongs only in the hands of a Physician specifically trained in the cosmetic use of lasers. This is defined by a certain "core group" of Physicians, which include Facial Plastic Surgeons, Plastic Surgeons, Dermatologists, and Occuloplastic Surgeons. A wide variety of lasers can provide aesthetic enhancements, when used properly. Alternatively, a laser is a powerful tool that can produce complications when used improperly or when in the wrong hands.

Stephen Prendiville, MD
Fort Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 93 reviews

Doctor qualification for laser skin resurfacing

I think the best way to get to a recommendation is to get a doctor to tell you what he / she would do for his own daughter,.

In my case, I would feel comfortable entrusting her care to that of a competent Plastic Surgeon or Dermatologist. I would NEVER allow her to get her face buzzed in a spa / Gyn - primary care doctor's office or a "laser clinic".

With economic pressures being what they are the field of Cosmetic Surgery is over run with people who do not have the background, the training and even the artistic capacity to use such tools competently. When such lack of skills are combined with a low degree of ethics, bad results are bound to happen.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 108 reviews

Expert physician who customizes pre-op and post-op skin care most qualified

Board-certified Dermatologists are the most trained in laser treatments of the skin as the pre-op and post-op skin care routines must be customized to maximize the clinical benefits and minimize potential complication associated with laser resufacing. Ideally, you should seek out an experienced physician who has performed more than 50 cases of your skin type.

William Ting, MD
Bay Area Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.