Victims report blistering, scarring and altered complexions, says watchdog The Consumer Council has received dozens of complaints from people receiving intense-light treatment for skin blemishes at beauty parlours. Half of the 34 people who contacted the watchdog had suffered burns, blistering, scarring and a change in skin colour. The number of complaints about intense pulsed light treatment jumped from one in each of the past two years to 20 in the first 11 months of this year. Complaints about laser treatment dropped from 17 to 14 in the past 11 months. Intense pulsed light treatment uses a series of high-energy light beams to remove moles and freckles and to improve skin colour. Laser treatment uses a focused beam of light of one colour. Beauty parlours charge $400 to $600 for such treatment. Lo Wing-lok, the legislator who represents the medical sector, said only doctors and dentists had the ability to thoroughly assess whether patients were fit for such treatment. 'The cosmetic-service providers at beauty parlours usually undergo only several weeks of training,' he said. Inappropriate application of both treatments could have a range of consequences. The high-energy beam could damage the skin's surface and underlying tissue, as well as hurt the eyes. 'Inflammation could also occur, which leads to secondary infection. The beauticians might not have the knowledge to handle these situations,' he said. Dr Lo warned that intense pulsed light treatment could be riskier as the total energy delivered could be 20 times that of laser treatment. As the government has yet to table its bill proposing a regulatory framework for medical devices, Dr Lo said public education was needed in the meantime. Consumer Council spokesman Matthew Ng said professional medical advice was crucial to preventing the side effects and complications from these treatments. 'Consumers could be taking medication which could cause sensitivity to light,' he said. 'Those who have moles should seek doctors' advice as to whether the moles will evolve into skin cancer. Inappropriate treatment could cause the cancer to grow more speedily.' Mr Ng said the council was concerned about lack of government regulation over cosmetic services. He said only 24 out of 52 cosmetic-service providers surveyed by the council between August and October said their device operators were doctors, specialists, nurses or experienced beauticians. 'Consumers should ask whether operators have been well-trained before they enter into a contract. They should see if the machines are well-maintained,' Mr Ng said. The Health Department said the government's proposed regulatory framework on medical devices was being studied and a revised proposal would be tabled in Legco early next year.