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Re-evaluating Your Medical Spas Skin Typing Practices

If patients haven't already started coming to your practice for laser hair removal for silky smooth summertime skin, they're probably starting now. And now is a more dangerous time than ever for them to start laser therapies especially if you or your staff isn't adequately trained on proper skin typing and assessment.

If you're like most practices, you will request a patient complete a skin typing worksheet to determine their Fitzpatrick Skin Type. A couple of problems arise here. First, you're depending on your client to complete the chart and be accurate and honest. Many technicians only look at the final score and never really go over each question. Are they really blonde, or is their hair colored? Do they really tan easily without burning if they're a freckled red-head? Verifying each answer the client has chosen is the responsibility of the technician who should be comfortable "overruling" an answer upon using their own eyes to verify.

Another problem that can arise is exposure to the sun, tanning beds, spray or bottle tans. This is the time of the year where your client may start false tanning. This pigment applied to the skin can very much interact with the laser parameters you have set; therefore, you will need to make an adjustment. Or, they could walk in on a Monday after getting some sun on Saturday and their legs will be a little "pink" to them which should look like a big red flag to you!

Even though a patient may be a repeat client, that shouldn't rule them out from completing a new form and being reassessed prior to treatment this time. Just because they weren't tanned last year when they had their chin and upper lip done doesn't mean they won't be tanned this year when they come in to have their legs treated.

Skin typing should be performed at every laser session, not just the initial visit, as there could be subtle changes each session. If you are a laser technician or aesthetician who is uncomfortable with skin typing your clients, or you have staff personnel you feel lack the necessary understanding of proper skin typing, you might want to consider the Medical Spa Aesthetics Course, Study Guide, and Advanced IPL & Laser Training course available on MedicalSpaMD exclusively. The Patient Selection Chapter discusses Laser Applications, Patient Selection, Skin Color, Skin Typing, The Fitzpatrick Classification Scale, Skin Classification by Ethnicity Type, Medical History, Physical Examination, and Contraindications for Treatment.

Great patient results begin with proper education to develop solid standards of practice. Your patients don't want to get burned, and neither do you.

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