Checklist for Choosing a Device: Navigating the Medical Hair Removal Marketplace

Written by Courtney Sykes

Modern aesthetics in 2019 includes many opportunities for professionals and business owners to take a look at their offerings and, specifically, their modalities of use in order to be on-trend in the new year and take on a competitive edge. Medical hair removal services are a fantastic way to meet consumers where their needs are, which are comprised of permanent laser hair reduction and serious results. Professionals must perform the research necessary to not only educate their consumers, but also choose the best medical hair removal device for their facility.

Laser hair removal devices are a source of permanent hair reduction in which consumers receive exposure to pulses of laser light that eventually destroy the hair follicle. Laser light heats up the hair bulb and kills it after a set number of sessions. Ultimately, it is best to perform laser hair removal treatments during the anagen stage of hair growth, as the hair is in its fetal stage of output. And, because this is not easy to track with thousands of hair follicles growing at different stages, several sessions are required to receive optimal results. Sessions should be scheduled between four and six week intervals and, sometimes, as early as every three weeks for those with a faster hair growth cycle. When a consumer does not follow through with all sessions, it is suggested to start the cycle of treatments all over again. This proves to be a major source of consumer education and can make or break the experience for clients opting for laser hair reduction. Once a provider understands the consultation process and the need for consistent reinforcement of treatments needed, the consumer enjoys incredible results with a yearly maintenance session required for long-term hair removal. Of course, education in hormones, the endocrine system, medications, and immune system disorders are also key in understanding consistent growth (or excessive growth) of unwanted hair.

When choosing a laser hair removal device, there are many items to consider. Professionals must take into consideration the use and function of the device, the size, the cost of the device versus the return, maintenance and upkeep required, and results achieved. Additionally, facilities must take into consideration state rules and regulations regarding the use of light therapies and the delegation of those tasks to non-medical practitioners.

USE AND FUNCTIONS
Providers can either look at single-use devices or opt for multi-function units that target other IPL treatments such as the reduction of veins, acne treatments, skin tightening, and the removal of pigmented lesions. Laser hair reduction is one of many modalities that IPL can target. However, if cost is a factor, a single-use device can be a viable option for facilities. Professionals must look at different aspects of their company specific to mission and vision, menu, marketing efforts, and more in order to decide whether a multi-function unit makes sense for their business model.

SIZE
Many facilities base their business model on a multi-room platform, while others focus on a smaller scale with medium to large treatment rooms. If the device will be rolled from one room to another, the possibility of size being a factor can be great. Some laser hair removal devices can be tabletop modalities that can be positioned on a rolling cart or stationary table. Others are full size laser devices, with options to add ablative arms and other modalities to the station. Being able to maneuver the device around the room and roll it into place are important factors to consider. Consider what electric wall plugs are necessary for the device. Will you need to place the machine in a different room due to this? How can two to three people fit within the space comfortably, while still allowing space to move the machine around? Answering these questions, specific to your business needs, are important in decision-making for purchasing.

COST VERSUS RETURN
In 2019, when it comes to cost, there are so many options regarding equipment than ever before. When lasers first came out on the market in the mid 1990s, providers were only able to purchase directly from the manufacturer. Now, business owners are able to purchase from the manufacturer, middle men, used equipment companies, and other avenues. The real question is deciding whether or not you are willing to forgo a warranty policy from the manufacturer, utilize the marketing efforts (or not) of the equipment companies, or have access to machine-specific engineers for maintenance. There is definitely a cost difference between purchasing new versus used, or even leasing a machine. However, there are many pros and cons of both. Business owners must decide if the cost outweighs the marginal profits. Do you have strong internal marketing that can boost the sales of a gently used laser hair removal device? Does the used equipment company provide options for engineers when an issue arises? When purchasing a brand new device, have you informed your accountant of the tax deduction benefits applicable? Does your accountant factor in depreciation of the equipment? There are definitely items to consider. Ensure that the business model, target market, competitors, and demographics support the equipment purchasing decisions. All of these factors can make or break a return on investment.

MAINTENANCE AND UPKEEP
Medical hair removal devices, much like many other lasers or medical equipment, have yearly maintenance requirements that must be factored in. The more specific and high-end the device, the more expensive the maintenance will be. Often, engineers must fly out (at your expense) to your destination in order repair or provide maintenance to your device. Do you have funds in a savings account to budget for this? There are additionally options for maintenance contracts. When purchasing directly from the manufacturer, companies will often provide contract options for maintenance. This can cut costs dramatically, as owners may pay a flat fee or a monthly rate into a savings plan for annual maintenance. There are even independent companies that provide laser-specific engineers that travel to facilities (at a cost) and repair a number of devices. Regardless of the choices, having a plan in place for routine maintenance of modalities is critical, as owners rely on these devices to generate income.

RESULTS
The true testament of a device lies within the results it can produce for the client. When purchasing a new device, the professional must focus on the brand itself and the clinical studies provided by the company. When purchasing a used device, the professional must focus on the energy output (pulses) the device has already incurred and whether or not the laser has had yearly maintenance performed. Does the laser arm provide enough output? Is the crystal on the laser head cloudy and in need of a new laser arm? All of these factors play a part in the results clients will achieve. Older lasers take upwards of eight to 10 treatments to obtain results for consumers, while newer medical hair reduction devices can take anywhere from five to eight treatments to obtain optimal results. What is it worth to you? What are your clients looking for?

When choosing a device for any practice, business owners must consider all factors that play a role in consumer outcomes, client reviews, and profits of the company. Laser hair reduction devices are an incredible addition to any medical spa or facility focused on long-term results and can be a great add-on to any treatment plan. Laser hair reduction provides quick treatments in as little as 15 minutes, for small areas, and is an impeccable choice for aesthetic providers. Professionals can make smart decisions when considering all areas of equipment purchasing trends when considering these factors.

Courtney Sykes 2019Courtney Sykes is the chief administrative officer of Southeastern Esthetics Institute and a licensed aesthetics instructor in South Carolina. Her passion lies in creating real change in the aesthetics industry, assisting her students to obtain gainful employment and make a difference in the lives of their clients. Sykes specializes in a science-based approach to skin health and education. Her primary focus is chemical peels, laser treatments, eyelash extensions, micropigmentation, and cosmetic lasers. Her background in medical spa management has led her to nationally accredit the largest licensed aesthetics school in South Carolina, Southeastern Esthetics Institute.

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