In addition, according to Dr. Chilukuri, multi-modality procedures are, “A home run for patients. The fact that we create combination protocols makes us unique. When our patients ask, ‘can you do this or that treatment,’ we say yes, we do it all. We do not have just one, but rather six or seven devices that can contour and be utilized with supporting products to rein in post-procedure discomfort and other concerns that arise. When choosing these combinations, it is extremely important to consider what devices and modalities will work together synergistically.”
In recent years, the intelligent use of these types of combination therapies has increased the popularity of device-based body shaping procedures, Dr. Chilukuri added. “People come through the door and ask for a treatment or device brand by name. They are that tuned in,” he expressed. “Generation X and Baby Boomers are approaching the stage where they notice skin laxity and fat on the top of the thigh or on the knee, so we are using RF or ultrasound contouring combined with acoustic wave devices, collagen stimulatory systems and normal saline to enhance results.”
Along with patient requests there are cost concerns as well. The purchase or lease of a new aesthetic system is a significant investment for any practitioner, emphasized Jared E. Mallalieu, D.O., a cosmetic surgeon in Severna Park, Md. “When you start contemplating spending as much as $150,000 for a single device, it really comes down to the brand. It should have some name recognition online, for instance. I’ve had patients tell me they searched online for the brand name to help identify the appropriate procedure for them. A product that also promotes my practice helps drive business. This is beneficial because six or seven years later, long after the device has been paid off, it can still generate the same amount of income for us. That scenario is really fantastic.”
Dr. Mallalieu offers the ProLipo PLUS from Sciton, Inc. (Palo Alto, Calif.). He based his product choice equally upon the firm’s high touch approach and the system’s technology. The ProLipo PLUS features 1064 nm and 1319 nm laser wavelengths in one system and delivers up to 40 Watts of power, for immediately visible body sculpting results and firmer skin. “This was a fantastic buy – a ‘Cadillac’ type of product,” he said. “Prior to obtaining this system we did not really do any liposuction treatments at all. In the first 18 months of use we have done over 175 cases of laser lipo. In addition, the company does not nickel and dime me when it comes to disposables. That’s another reason why I went with Sciton.”
Minimally and non-invasive body shaping procedures open up a lot of options for those that don’t want surgery or in those cases when it is too early for surgery, stated Amber Bocknek, M.D., an aesthetic physician in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada. “Throughout my career I’ve used systems that gave me less than satisfactory results, so I started searching for something that was high performance and actually worked,” she recounted. She settled on the vShape Ultra from Alma Lasers, Inc. (Buffalo Grove, Ill.), an advanced multiplatform device that integrates various technologies, including ultrasound, focused RF and ablative RF microneedling. In addition, it requires no disposables. “vShape Ultra really helps me deliver on patient satisfaction, and because I don’t have the consumables cost built into my price point, my overall course of treatment for patients is considerably less expensive than some other body contouring devices. Therefore my patients are not driven by cost factors. In the end, I just have happier patients,” she said.
“Consumables can be expensive and their cost is important to your profit and loss statement,” Dr. Sasaki noted. “Manufacturers create an annuity income with such things as disposables, maintenance contracts and warranty fees because that is where they make their profit.”
Along these lines, Dr. Duncan says a fair number of physicians have made device purchases based on more of a clinical view than an economic one. “I have two laser-based systems that offer patients outstanding results, but may not have been the best investment,” she shared. “Consider the results achieved versus the cost of a yearly maintenance agreement for such devices, which may run you $14,000 per year. This is not affordable.