If you are opening a new med spa or looking to add laser hair removal procedures to your existing practice, you are confronted with host of technology options for laser hair removal. There are many hair removal lasers on the market. What are the differences between these technologies and what works the best?
Investing in pre-owned equipment? Make sure to consider your options closely:
- Skin Types: Will you be treating patient with skin types I – VI. Make sure the technology you are considering is both safe and effective for darker skin types.
- Tanned Skin: Are you based in a region where tanned skin is common year round?
- Patient Comfort: Not all systems are completely painless (especially older versions), however they may be more effective.
- Speed: Older equipment may perform a little slower (i.e. require longer and / more sessions), but if your investment budget is tight, it may be worth the trade-off.
- Handpieces / Attachments: If you are buying a dedicated hair removal laser, does it come with all the attachments. Multi-platform system? Make sure you know all you options for handpieces that perform hair removal. In general, handpieces come in a large and small spot size. Unless you are only offering services for specific areas, you need to make sure you have all the right sizes. Also some handpieces only work on specific skin types – make sure you have this covered.
- Disposables: Will you need to factor in a supply budget for everyday use of your laser hair removal equipment. For example does the device use a cooling tip and cooling gel?
- Maintenance Costs: Make sure find out how often and what type of maintenance needs to be performed whether on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual basis. Make sure to ask the company you are purchasing the equipment from if they can perform cosmetic laser repair and maintenance services for you and what to expect in typical costs.
Type of Hair Removal Devices
Following is a list of options in the used aesthetic laser market – keep in mind they all have their pros and cons but are all good options:
- Alexandrite Lasers
Some consider the Alexandrite to be the gold standard in laser hair removal while some consider diode technology. The Alexandrite laser is extremely fast, large parts of the body such as the back or chest can be done in just about half an hour. It’s fast and highly effective on light to olive skinned individuals. For dark and tanned skin, you must be very careful. The Alexandrite emits a red colored light and has a high repetition rate which allows for super fast treatments. Patients being treated can expect a certain amount of discomfort. Candela and Cynosure are some of the more popular brands on the market.
- Diode Lasers
Diode lasers are known for their excellent performance. Most skin types can be treated so it is a versatile technology, but it is definitely more effective for lighter skin types. Some of the more recently produced machines are virtually painless. Manufactures that use diode technology include Alma and Lumenis.
- IPL Devices
IPL devices emit white intense pulsed light and technically are not lasers. Energy is emmited in shorter pulses. IPL treatments are safe and effective for lighter skin that has darker hair. However darker and tanned skin pose a challenge as skin can be permanently lightened. Manufacturers producing IPL devices include Palomar and Syneron.
The long pulse Nd:YAG laser is one of the best solutions for tanned skin and dark skin types. It also works on light hair and skin but is not as effective as some of the other laser options. The Nd:YAG is also a very fast laser and offers a larger spot size. Palomar makes a 1064 Nd:YAG handpiece and Candela also produces platforms that feature this technology.
- Ruby Lasers: The ruby laser / q-switch is definitely older technology and realistically there are better options out there. It has a 694nm and a deep ruby red color. The laser provides excellent results for individuals with light / fair skin and light and fine hair but is not at all suitable for dark or tanned skin. Melanin in dark or tanned skin absorbs too much of the energy which will result in skin damage.
As you can see there are many choices and certainly certain types of technology work better on light skin types while others are better choices for darker skin types. It may make sense to consider a multi-platform unit like those offered by Palomar or Syneron, and you can purchase various handpiece types to cover all of your potential patient needs. If you expect to be doing a high volume of hair removal services, a dedicated machine such as those offered by Candela or Lumenis may be the way to go. Also invest in well-known brands. Knock off equipment will produce ineffective and poor results and may even harm your patients.