Burns secondary to cosmetic laser, an increasing problem in Australia. A case series

Dr Dylan Prunster1, Dr Peter Meier1, Professor Fiona Wood1, Dr Anna Goodwin-Walters1, Dr Helen Douglas1

1Fiona Stanley Hospital – State Burns Service of Western Australia , Perth, Australia



Australia has seen an exponential rise in the cosmetic medicine industry. Australia ranks in the top ten in money spent on cosmetic procedures with over a billion dollars spent in 2017, and over 200’ 000 cosmetic procedures performed in 2018 (ISAPS, 2020). Intense pulse light laser (IPL) for hair and tattoo removal is one of the top five procedures performed often by unqualified and unsupervised laypersons in unregulated cosmetic settings. We present a small case series of IPL related burns (Watchmaker, 2020).

Method and Results

Data was reviewed on 10 consecutive patients treated with IPL burns from the Western Australia State Burns Centre database for analysis in this case review. Ten patients all females were treated with an average TBSA of 0.5%, all had delayed presentation with an average of 7.5 days, indications for IPL included hair removal, rosacea, and flushing.


The increasing appetite for cosmetic procedures in Australia combined with the lack of regulation particularly regarding the qualifications of practitioners has seen burns units within Australia continue to see rising numbers of iatrogenic burns related to laser use (Watchmaker, 2020; ISAPS, 2020). The ambiguity regarding what constitutes recognized specialist qualifications combined with lucrative financial incentives has seen increasing laser use by laypersons without medical supervision. It is incumbent upon regulatory bodies to tighten and rigidly enforce strict policing of qualifications and supervision relating to the use of lasers in cosmetic procedures (Watchmaker, 2020).


The rise of the cosmetic medicine and the wellness industry within Australia combined with lack of regulatory oversite means that iatrogenic burn injuries secondary to laser misadventure will be an increasing issue for burns units Australia wide.


Dr Dylan Prunster is a surgical service registrar working within the West Australian Health Department with a keen interest in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. He obtained his primary medical qualification from the University of Western Australia and subsequently undertook an internship and residency at Royal Perth Hospital.

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