Dr. Sunaina Hameed, MBBS, MD
I recently received my Diplomate from the American Board of Laser Surgery. The Board was founded in 1984 and this is the highest level of certification that one can receive in the safe and effective use of lasers in medical and cosmetic therapies. As we all know and agree, an M.D in dermatology does not automatically qualify us in a true understanding of laser physics. There is’nt much training imparted in the residency level and most of the training, if any, are imparted by the manufacturers themselves. The last 15 years have seen an explosion of a score of various laser and light based devices in the Indian market, and the Indian skin can be particularly challenging to work with. Lasers are highly sophisticated and dangerous devices which can cause a lot of iatrogenic injury to patient, and sometimes to treating physician, if they are not used correctly. Even minor injuries become unacceptable in the realm of cosmetic and aesthetic dermatology, as our patients expect nothing short of perfection. At the same time, safety alone is not sufficient. Physicians must also be held accountable for lack of efficacy as well. Device specific training is obviously a must, but that must be backed by a sound understanding of laser wavelengths, pulse widths, depth of penetration etc, so one can understand the full scope and various limitations of the device.
This Diplomate is not just limited to dermatologists. In fact, any doctor who works with medical laser devices must seek to undergo the rigorous process of certification. I underwent the certification designed for cosmetic laser practitioners. Even though the written examinations are on an open book basis, one needs a minimum 80% score in order to pass. About 10-15% of candidates do not pass the written examinations on the first attempt, even with an open-book policy, which attests to the examination’s rigor. While the Board has over 600 Diplomates across the world, including several Middle-Eastern and Asian countries, it is unfortunate that we do not have any ABLS Board Certified Laser Physicians in India, which is home to over 8000 dermatologists.
I have personally grown by leaps and bounds in my understanding of various laser devices used across the world. The study material was a lot more detailed and tougher than I expected. Despite several years of training in almost 10 different laser devices including a platform device, I was shocked at my low scores when I took their trial examination last year. It was an eye-opener! The course is reasonably priced and the examinations are designed to fit into the tight schedule of a busy practitioner.
-Dr. Sunaina Hameed, MBBS, MD, Dip.ABLS (USA)