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Aging gracefully: the maturing of the cosmetic laser industry

by Gus Iversen , Editor in Chief
From the January 2015 issue of DOTmed HealthCare Business News magazine

Bateman says Fotona does not charge recertification fees for transferring ownership of a laser. “If a customer called and we sold them a laser four years ago and they hadn’t had it on a service contract, they could still register for one. We would charge them for checking out the machine to verify it was in good condition, and we would do the same with someone who bought one of our lasers used.”

The cost of that inspection, according to Bateman, would likely be in the ballpark of a few thousand dollars, but not tens of thousands. “It could be very expensive if there were serious problems with the laser. You don’t know if it was in a flood or mishandled, you don’t know if a critical component was broken, you just don’t know until you check it out.”
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Although he recommends servicing a laser annually, Bateman adds, “We have customers that do not get their lasers serviced for several years and they still function great.”

State by state regulations
The shift towards legislation requiring physicians to operate cosmetic lasers has increased in recent years. For Sentient Medical Technologies, roughly 80 percent of the current customer base is physicians. “Certain types of physicians get involved because they aren’t making enough money in their occupation,” says Cella, who cites an OB/ GYN getting involved in laser hair removal as a typical example.

Those physicians would ask themselves the same business questions as anyone else entering the business, according to Cella; is there a demand and a demographic in the marketplace? Where is my competition? What is my overhead? What can I charge? Who do I market to? Who do I consult? How do I focus on a return in investment?

“In New York it’s wide open,” says Kokjohn. Meaning there are a lot of medical spas, and lots of aestheticians that do cosmetic laser procedures outside of a doctor’s office and without doctor supervision. “Across the river in New Jersey however,” says Kokjohn, “You have one of the most tightly regulated states for cosmetic procedures.” A result of which, he says, is higher costs to the patient.

“In my opinion, it’s not about the degree of the person doing the treatment,” says Kokjohn. “It’s about the clinical training on that particular device.” He is not opposed to legislation requiring training, but he does think basing a laser practitioner’s qualifications on their degree is missing the mark.

He says there are many nurses and aestheticians who are excellent treatment providers and arguably better than doctors. “They take more time with the patient, they’re better clinically, they’re into it more and it isn’t just a sideline like it is for some doctors,” said Kokjohn.
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