By Patrick O’Brien, J.D., Legal Coordinator for the American Med Spa Association
Dermaplaning over the last couple of years has become one of the most popular procedures offered in medical spas. There are, however, differing opinions on who may do the procedure and whether or not it is medical in nature. Let’s take a brief look at how different states treat dermaplaning and some consideration if you plan to offer dermaplaning in your medical spa.
Before we dive into the details let’s do an overview of what is dermaplaning. Dermaplaning is a form of mechanical exfoliation. It typically involves a bladed instrument (often a #10 scalpel) used to scrape off the dead layer of skin and small hairs from a person’s face. The patient is left with more vibrant and even looking skin. In that respect it is similar to microdermabrasion treatments in that it should only remove the stratum corneum (outermost layer of skin).
Dermaplaning has the added benefit of have much lower equipment costs since it needs only a scalpel to perform as opposed to more elaborate machinery. This difference in equipment can complicate who may perform the procedure, as we will see later.
Since the procedure is intended to only effect the stratum corneum layer of the skin and not any lower it would seem that estheticians or cosmetologists would be able to perform these procedures as part of their practice of beautifying and enhancement of skin that we find in many state’s statutes. This is the case in Ohio were dermaplaning is permitted provided it only removes the cells from the top layer of skin. Dermaplaning (or using a blade) that removes skin cells below the stratum corneum is specifically listed as a prohibited act in the Ohio Board of Cosmetology rules. Tennessee likewise prohibits any type of skin removal technique that effects the living layer of facial skin. Minnesota allows their master estheticians perform treatments on the epidermal layer which is a deeper level than the stratum corneum and so they are allowed to dermaplane.
The depth of a few skin cells can seem like a very narrow margin between what is permitted or prohibited. Other states such as California have come down on the other side line and consider it a strictly medical procedure. In their rules California not only specifically lists “exfoliation below the epidermis” as an “Invasive Procedures” but also consider the removal of skin by a razor-edged tool to also be “invasive.” Illinois similarly prohibits cosmetologists and estheticians from performing dermaplaning and instead consider it a medical procedure. Likewise, South Dakota prohibits estheticians and cosmetologists from performing “invasive” procedures and specifically counts dermaplaning among them in an advisory statement. And in Montana’s administrative rules they define “dermaplane” as being performed by a physician.
Stay tuned for part 2 of “Dermaplaning: Surgery or a Close Shave?” tomorrow!