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California State Laser Tattoo Removal Regulations

The state of California has specific laws in place to govern laser tattoo removal procedures and who can perform them. In California, laser treatments for removal of unwanted tattoos is considered to be a cosmetic procedure and is subject to the same regulations. This means that only approved medical personnel can perform the procedure, and consequently, laser tattoo removal treatments can be quite expensive in California. This is unfortunate for the customer, but good for business, as facilities have more freedom to set their own prices due to less competition. No matter if you are using a powerful Q-Switched laser from PicoSure, the Quanta Q plus C laser or the Q-Switched Nd YAG laser from Cynosure, it’s important to ensure that you follow the local Department of Health guidelines and California state requirements before opening your doors.

Who is authorized to perform a cosmetic treatment?

As with laser hair removal or any other cosmetic laser procedure in California, laser tattoo removal treatments can only be performed by a licensed medical doctor or under a physician’s direct supervision. Even under supervision, only the following approved personnel may perform the procedure:

  • Physician’s assistants (PAs)
  • Registered nurses (RNs)

Personnel not approved to perform laser tattoo removal treatments, even under supervision, include:

  • Unlicensed medical assistants
  • Licensed vocational nurses
  • Cosmetologists
  • Electrologists
  • Estheticians

Violation of these rules opens the facility to state investigation and disciplinary action.

Where can laser tattoo removal treatments be performed?

Laser tattoo removal services can be offered at non-medical facilities as long as the procedure is still performed by approved medical personnel. They can, of course, also be performed at doctor’s offices.

Who can receive laser tattoo removal treatments in California?

Laser tattoo removal treatments can only be performed on people under the age of 18 with consent from a parent or guardian, but people over 18 are free to seek treatment. As with any procedure, the physician will make the patient aware of any typical risks or side effects associated with the treatment, such as scars or burning, or any risks that might be unique to the patient’s situation, for example, if the patient is pregnant or has pre-existing health conditions that might be affected by the treatment.

What constitutes professional misconduct?

In California, physicians and nurses must comply with the Medical Practice Act, which governs everything from patient care to fraud. Some examples of misconduct include:

  • Sexual harassment of patient or of a subordinate
  • Negligence
  • Operating with a fraudulent or revoked license
  • Operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs

Violation of the Medical Practice Act may result in an investigation and subsequent disciplinary action. Depending on the act, the physician’s license may be suspended or revoked, or the physician might be put on probation.

For a more comprehensive description of violations that constitute misconduct and of what is expected of physicians, refer to the Medical Practice Act, or to the Business and Professions Code Section 2000 (and subsequent sections).

Please note that this article is not intended to provide legal advice. For legal advice regarding laser tattoo removal procedures, contact the California medical board or call one of our reps at to discuss. Direct Regulations Consulting Line: 888-875-7001.

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