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Lasers and IPLs in Australia: Why is it important that technicians gain training in laser safety before practising?

27 Jan 2017, by Informa

Elissa O’Keefe is a Nurse Practitioner and the Director of Bravura Australia and will be speaking, Chairing and running an IPL and Laser Safety Training for Cosmetic Practice Course at the upcoming National Cosmetic Medicine Summit set to take place over the 1-4 March in Sydney this year. In the lead up to the Summit, we had the opportunity to speak to Elissa and find out what’s trending in laser technology, the current state of laser regulation in Australia, and the changing face of cosmetic nursing in Australia.

  1. Tell us a bit about your background

1109_elissaokeefe_013I’ve been a clinician who is constantly driven to raise the standards of health care. This was the impetus to become a Nurse Practitioner and now to be a leader in laser and IPL education.

I have a great eye for where improvements can be made especially with regard to education and clinical practice areas. I find work highly creative and am passionate about everything I turn my hand to. I have published widely and keep striving to make the lives of clinicians smoother and the experience of the client better.

  1. Lasers are now being used for hair removal, skin rejuvenation, tattoo removal and more. What are some of the lesser known outcomes that are able to be achieved with lasers today?

Fat reduction using energy based devices is going gangbusters and is a non-invasive alternative to liposuction. Not only laser but ultrasound, radiofrequency and cryotherapy. Actually we are in the process of developing CPD at the request of the wider industry so they can all keep up. With an obesity problem in Australia I am keen to see how these devices will enhance self confidence, self care and long term health benefits for people. Feminine rejuvenation is another area that is going to be big. Lasers are being used for women to improve urinary incontinence, enhance vulval skin quality and reduce vaginal laxity. Women are living longer and healthier lives and they are choosing non-hormonal or medication free health solutions and this fits in beautifully with that remit. Some doctors are combining t his too with platelet rich plasma for even better results. Both lasers and PRP are very familiar to a cosmetic medicine practitioner and another application for the skills and education they currently have.

  1. What are the current regulations with respect to lasers and IPLs in Australia and why is it important that technicians gain training in laser safety before practising?

Formal regulatory structures around both laser and IPL regulation is about to become a national initiative. If the models currently in place in Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania are used as a benchmark then a Laser Safety Certificate will become mandatory in an application for a user’s license. All the clinics we speak with are planning an education strategy for their staff this year to ensure that they all have this qualification. Education like this gives clinicians the confidence to get up and running quickly because they absolutely understand the technology in their hands. They sound more knowledgeable to clients, have higher self worth and also meet their continuing professional development obligations.  I have seen clinicians who don’t have this basic qualification do a number of things: resign because they felt unsupported in the workplace, take forever to achieve working to their full scope of practice because they lack confidence and unfortunately cause damage to a client’s skin and the clinic’s reputation.

  1. You are speaking on behalf of the Australian College of Nurses on the topic of ‘Clinical Governance and Education Best Practice in Cosmetic Nursing’. Without giving too much away about your upcoming presentation, what are some of the key initiatives being undertaken by the College in the area of Cosmetic Nursing? How is cosmetic nursing changing in Australia?

Kylie Ward and her team are very supportive of cosmetic nursing as a discrete speciality and have indicated that they are committed to assisting us. I’m going to profile what exists to support us now and we can have a look together where we think the speciality might go in the next two years.

  1. We are delighted to have you Chair the laser and technology stream at the upcoming conference. Which presentations from the National Cosmetic Medicine Summit are you particularly looking forward to?

I’ve heard that Professor Leonardo Marini is incredible with the way he combines multiple laser technologies to get the best possible results so he is high on my list. I’m also fascinated by how social media contributes to all of our businesses so Trish Hammond’s session on blogs will stretch my brain. The other two are nurses Suzie Hoitink and Gordon Lonie because I am always in awe of my peers who are doing extraordinary things.


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