Consumers Demand Quicker Solutions
Demand for laser procedures have been buoyed by an aging population. With many Baby Boomers coming of age, yet not wanting to look the part, there is a growing desire for a more youthful and vivacious appearance. Non-invasive laser procedures put this goal within reach, thanks to less downtime and recovery, along with a significantly lower cost compared with traditional cosmetic surgery.
The tough economy itself may also be driving the desire to look younger—as mature individuals compete with younger people for jobs, many feel their aged appearance may influence decision makers. With the help of a quick, affordable and nearly painless procedure, mature job seekers may enjoy an advantage over their younger, less experienced competition.
The industry has also seen an uptick in the marketing of non-invasive procedures aimed directly at consumers. Much like the pharmaceuticals industry, device manufacturers are ramping up their efforts to provide marketing support to plastic surgeons and other aesthetic physicians to raise awareness about these cheaper, quicker alternatives to costly and invasive plastic surgery. As a result, many physicians have actually retooled their practice to focus on non-invasive services as their surgery business has waned.
Meanwhile, the laser technology industry has evolved to offer breakthrough innovations that make almost any aesthetic procedure accessible—for both physicians and consumers. By focusing on reducing pain and downtime, device manufacturers are fueling the public’s desire for a quick, easy fix to their cosmetic challenges.
For example, a simple hair removal procedure was once a very painful experience—one that often had patients stop treatment after just one procedure. New technology, such as the SHR IN-Motion technology available with Alma Lasers’ Soprano family of products which combines concurrent cooling with a gradual thermal rise to the target's therapeutic temperature, minimizing the risk of injury and with much less pain for the patient. Combined with faster treatment times, physicians can confidently meet the new demands being presented by their patients.
Not only has the industry responded to meet consumers’ needs, but also those of providers. The most innovative systems are capable of delivering a broader range of treatments at a much lower cost for the physician. Advanced systems have become extremely user-friendly, even enabling practitioners to delegate treatment services (where allowable by law) to improve practice efficiency. Multi- application, multi-technology platforms, such as Alma Lasers Harmony XL, offers plug-and-play modules offering various technologies on the same system making it more affordable for physicians to offer a wider range of treatments to patients. Additionally, this platform eliminates the need for offices to be stocked with multiple pieces of equipment that take up valuable office space.
To further improve cost effectiveness, customer-focused suppliers are dialing back the need for consumables with innovative devices that eliminate disposable components. This is in direct contrast to the typical Wall Street-driven business model that thrives on recurring revenue, but it is a much more provider-friendly model that significantly reduces the cost of ownership of these types of devices.
New enhancements to improve speed, efficacy and ease of use are at the forefront of new manufacturing designs. One example is a recently introduced innovation in fractional technology from Alma Lasers. Known as the iPixel, this device eliminates the stamping process with a built-in roller that smoothly delivers the beam across the skin's surface like a paint brush. This makes treatment not only simpler, but more efficient—skin resurfacing of the entire face can be completed in as little as 5 minutes.
In addition to improvements on existing treatment options, new frontiers are also being explored and developed. Alma Lasers is currently working on a combination therapy program which encompasses laser treatments working with topical applications to further enhance results. The technique employs different laser modalities that use pixelated frequencies to penetrate the skin, the topical is then applied and ultrasound is used to push it through the skin. The technique affords more than 50% penetration of the topical into the skin—much greater than conventional applications. Although not yet approved for use in the US, this approach is already showing tremendous results in the international market for eliminating stretch marks and scarring, especially on the delicate dermis of the face.
While some in the industry have taken this consumer-driven demand for fast and easy procedures to the home treatment market, my view is most of these over the counter solutions fail to deliver the results most consumers were hoping for.
Instead, the future remains with the professional market, but with the walk-in convenience. Consumers want the convenience of being able to get their treatments on their lunch break, and be able to return to work with no one even noticing they’ve “had work done,” a requirement the industry has worked hard to address and conquer.
Avi Farbstein, EVP/GM, North America Operations
With over 35 years of industry experience, Avi Farbstein has an established, successful track record in the field of laser, and light-based products. Using his background in engineering and R &D, Mr. Farbstein was involved in the development of the first lasers introduced into the medical device field. Over the years, he continued his professional growth within the aesthetic and medical device industry gaining extensive leadership experience through his hands on management of sales, operations, business development and customer support.
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