As demand for energy-based anti-aging procedures continues to rise, practitioners are faced with choosing from a wide array of aesthetic platforms and devices that are, at times, difficult to differentiate. Some are one trick ponies and offer a single procedure; others are full-blown multifunctional platforms that perform everything from energy-based hair removal to fat reduction, laser skin resurfacing and skin tightening.
According to statistics published by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), the above-named applications were among the top ten non-surgical procedures listed in 2017. Naturally, many of these procedures are performed using laser-based aesthetic devices.
“There are so many companies selling good products, it is a bit like a buffet,” said E. Victor Ross, M.D., director of the Laser and Cosmetic Dermatology Center at Scripps Clinic in San Diego, Calif., and past-president of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery.
Additionally, an increasing number of non-core physicians – such as family practitioners, internists and OB/GYNs – are entering the aesthetic space as a means to supplement the decreasing income from their conventional, reimbursed medical services. For these medical professionals, easy-to-use non-surgical solutions are front of mind.
Nevertheless, both new and experienced practitioners are faced with real-world considerations when deciding on the right laser for their practice.
“Before making any purchase a physician should know what’s available, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each,” said Edward Zimmerman, M.D., a cosmetic surgeon in Las Vegas, Nev. “They must know how to evaluate a technology or device. And, in addition to purchasing a laser-based system, physicians must then market themselves and the device.”
According to Anne Chapas, M.D., a dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon in New York City, N.Y., who specializes in laser surgery, physicians should start by looking at their existing practice needs. If you are a surgeon wanting to deal with surgical scars then you are going to want to buy a different laser than, say, a gynecologist whose patients are asking about vaginal atrophy and laxity,” she said.
A quick look at energy-based devices reveals a broad range of options, noted Lori Robertson, M.S.N., F.N.P.-C., owner and clinical director of Ajliss Medical Aesthetics in Brea, Calif.
“You have so many different types of technologies and devices to choose from. There are laser-based systems that can treat practically anything and everything that your patients can throw at you,” she expressed. “However, my number one concern is always whether or not the device and/or procedure is going to work. If it doesn’t work, then I don’t want it.”
Prior to making a buying decision, practitioners need to demonstrate a working familiarity with energy-based technologies, from solid-state KTP lasers to Ruby, pulsed dye, diode, Nd:YAG, Er:YAG, CO2, etc.; to intense pulsed light (IPL), radiofrequency (RF), ultrasound and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
“Become familiar with the important features of each technology and their appropriate applications when selecting a device,” stated Ms. Robertson. “You can go from ultraviolet all the way up to infrared with lasers, so that you can work on any skin color. Additionally, various types of tissues can be targeted at many different depths.”