Radiation in beauty care  

Many aesthetic or cosmetic treatments are based on treating the skin or body with radiation. Radiation is used, for example, to remove tattoos or body hair, to fade skin imperfections and to reshape the body by removing fat or cellulite.  

In beauty care, the body can be treated with optical radiation, radiofrequency radiation and ultrasound. Optical radiation includes visible light as well as laser, ultraviolet and infrared radiation.   

Service providers and clients should be aware of the risks associated with the use of radiation. In this context more is not always better, as too much radiation can cause all kinds of unintended damage and harm. Damage can include skin burns and scarring. There may also be temporary or permanent changes in skin pigmentation. Temporary damage can take up to months to improve and may require medical assistance to fully heal. It is not always even possible to repair the damage. For example, unintended exposure of an unprotected eye to a beam of powerful laser light can cause irreparable damage to the retina.  

Contrary to what is sometimes thought, the feeling of pain is not a sign that the treatment is working. Often, the sensation of pain is the first indication that tissue damage may be imminent. However, sometimes the sensation of pain does not necessarily occur. Some treatments target the most intense radiation to subcutaneous tissues where there are no nerves to sense the pain. In this case, any damage and associated pain may only become apparent in the days following the treatment. Some treatments may also expose the skin for such a short time that there is no time to react to the pain. The risks are also increased if local anesthetics or cooling of the skin is used to prevent the sensation of pain during treatment.  

Many treatments can be carried out safely by a skilled cosmetologist. However, for more complex procedures, medical professionals should be consulted. Some procedures require the use of radiation so intense that they can only be performed in a healthcare unit. An example of a demanding procedure is tattoo removal with a high-powered laser.   

When asked about any contraindications, the client must be open and answer truthfully as various medications and illnesses can have a significant impact on the skin's or body's ability to tolerate exposure to radiation. During pregnancy, all treatments should be avoided if there are any doubts about the safety of the fetus.  

The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) supervises the safe use of radiation in beauty care. STUK does not take a position on the efficacy, effectiveness or results of treatments.  

In the event of an accident   

If an injury occurs or is suspected to have occurred during a cosmetic treatment, you should contact your healthcare provider to assess the nature of the injury and whether medical treatment is required.  

In the event of injury due to a beauty treatment, the Consumer Advisory Services provide advice if no satisfactory solution can be found between the customer and the service provider to compensate for the damages.  

STUK would like to be notified of accidents and suspected non-compliant beauty care services. Notifications can be sent via email to stuk (at) stuk.fi.  

 Patient injury notices concerning healthcare are handled by the Patient Insurance Centre.  

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