Medical Use of Lasers

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the sale of lasers under the Centers for Devices and Radiological Health.  It is a device that only a licensed practitioner can purchase.

Destruction, incision, ablation or the revision of human tissue by use of a laser is surgery.

Complications from the medical use of lasers can include visual impairment, blindness, inflammation, burns, scarring, hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation.

The Oregon Medical Board adopts the position that the medical use of lasers is the practice of medicine as defined by ORS 677.085:

“(3) Offer or undertake to perform any surgical operation upon any person."

“(4) Offer or undertake to diagnose, cure or treat in any manner or by any means, methods, devices or instrumentalities, any disease, illness, pain, wound, fracture, infirmity, deformity, defect or abnormal physical or mental condition of any person.”

Physicians using lasers should be trained appropriately in the physics, safety and surgical techniques using lasers and intense pulsed light devices, as well as pre- and post-operative care. Any physician who delegates a procedure using lasers or intense pulsed light devices to a non-physician should also be qualified to do the procedure themselves by virtue of having received appropriate training in physics, safety and surgical techniques using lasers and intense pulsed light devices, as well as pre- and post-operative care.

Any allied health professional employed by a physician to perform a laser or intense pulsed light procedure should have received documented training and education in the safe and effective use of each system, and may carry out specifically designed laser procedures only under direct physician supervision, and following written guidelines and/or policies established by the specific site at which the laser procedure is performed.

The ultimate responsibility for performing any procedure lies with the physician.  The supervising physician should be on-site, immediately available, and able to respond promptly to any questions or problems that may occur while the procedure is being performed.

The guiding principle for all physicians is to practice ethical medicine with the highest possible standards to ensure the best interest and welfare of the patients.

- Adopted January 2002