A delay in legislating to restrict the use of laser treatments is undermining Hong Kong's reputation as a high-quality medical centre, industry bodies warned yesterday. The Hong Kong Surgical Laser Association and the Hong Kong Medical Association issued the warning after the Consumer Council received 14 complaints about laser treatments in beauty parlours in the year to November, compared with six in the whole of last year and just one in 1999. The cases involved hair removal, eye treatment and removal of scars and tattoos. Medical Association president and legislator Dr Lo Wing-lok said of 40 beauty parlours inspected by the Labour Department in the past three years, 12 had installed high-powered lasers for cosmetic treatments. There is no law governing the use of lasers despite repeated calls from doctors for them to be restricted to medical professionals. Surgical Laser Association president Professor Walter King Wing-keung said Hong Kong lagged behind countries such as Singapore and the US which already had relevant laws. 'Many overseas colleagues were surprised that untrained people could operate lasers in Hong Kong. 'People in the region regard Hong Kong as a centre for high-quality service. If the Government continues to allow the non-medical sector to buy the machines and carry out treatment without restrictions, we will be unable to monitor the quality of their services and that would also undermine the standing of Hong Kong in the medical field.' He said although the Government was studying tighter controls, it would take two or three years before a new law took effect. 'By that time, there may be high-voltage lasers in beauty parlours throughout Hong Kong'.