A decade ago it was a common belief that cosmetic medical professionals, including estheticians, only needed one laser device in their offices. Granted much of this rested on the idea that clinics focused largely on a singular (or maybe only a handful) of specializations. A well cited article published by the National Institutes of Health in 2011 put it this way:
One can argue that almost any laser can be used to treat a variety of conditions by changing various parameters of the laser or using the laser in conjunction with some other technique, such as epidermal cooling, dying an epidermal lesion a certain color, or applying a chemical that is photoactivated. If this was true, the least expensive laser would be the one you should buy. However, if you wish to be a bit more specific and acquire a specialized laser, which one is best? The answer to this question depends on the type of practice you have (i.e., cosmetic, general dermatology, hair removal practice/spa, or one dedicated to phlebology).
Specialized tools are best for specialized needs. Thus, a clinic that serves a wide variety of patients with a broad range of needs should have more than a single device in their office. The good news is that the field of lasers and other energy-based devices has rapidly expanded, making it easy to identify a tool for almost every procedure.
In fact, according to Business Wire, an online research and news source, the market is in a steady growth mode and is expected to stay that way. This growth is largely driven by consumer demand, creating a multitude of opportunities for those working in the field.
The most common type of device and treatment is laser. Lasers first came onto the market in the very early 1900s.
Light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation (laser) is a device that amplifies light and produces coherent light beams. The root of this technological innovation lies in physics research. Albert Einstein first proposed the idea of stimulated emission in the early 20th century, and Theodore Maiman at Hughes Aircraft Company created the first working laser in 1960.Dermatologists have used artificial light sources for the treatment of skin conditions for centuries including the Finsen lamp for lupus vulgaris (1899), wound healing and rickets (1901), and psoriasis (1925). The construction of new laser systems led dermatologists to study the therapeutic effects of lasers. (Source).
The technology has become increasingly advanced. According to the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS), today’s devices offer a range of options thanks to continual new developments and discoveries in wavelengths of the light use and fiberoptic systems now allowing for the delivery of lasers on nanometer scales. This makes way for even more precise and targeted devices that have adjustable wavelengths, allowing for different treatment options.
Intense Pulsed Light Devices
Since their invention in 2003, these devices have been a common tool for those working in esthetic clinics and for dermatologists. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) works through diffusing a multi-colored light with various filters that concentrate both visible and invisible energy from the light. The devices emit high amounts of light energy that are effective in treating such things as varicose veins, moles and freckles, acne, and even remove hair. According to ASLMS there are more than 50 types of IPLs on the market today.
Commonly known as LEDs, light emitting diodes are actually semiconductors that need an electrical charge to emit light. They are less powerful than lasers, but have proven incredibly effective for medical and cosmetic purposes because they allow for treatment of a large area at one time and can be adjusted to the needs of the practitioner. They work by improving cellular respiration and the overall circulation of blood in the treatment area because they force nitric oxide to be released. This helps with inflammation, wound healing, and acne.
In 2009 this technology was first brought to the market. Today, these devices use radio frequencies and ultrasounds to firm the skin by heating, tightening and lifting it. It has been described as a “novel energy modality for transcutaneous heat delivery that reaches the deeper subdermal connective tissue in tightly focused zones at consistent programmed depths.” The goal is to produce a deeper wound healing response at multiple levels with robust collagen remodeling and a more durable clinical response. The Ulthera device (Ulthera, Inc, Meza, AZ), with refined microfocused ultrasound technology, “has been adapted specifically for skin tightening and lifting with little recovery or risk of complications.” (Source). Essentially it prompts the skin to produce new collagen, providing benefits that can mimic a minor facelift without the invasiveness, but that are not as sudden as a facelift. The results may take 2-3 months to be fully recognized, creating a longer-term patient relationship.
The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery assures us that this group of devices is as safe for use as a skin tightener as any other device in the hands of a certified, experienced, well-trained practitioner. It works by sending a calm and slow spectrum of electromagnetic radiation into the skin. The devices available produce varying degrees of heat through various technologies, but all work by targeting that heat into the skin’s deep layers to stimulate the creation of collagen and elastin, driving cellular turnover. This creates thicker and more youthful looking skin.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons the use of this cold treatment to break down and remove fat is one of the most common non-surgical treatments in the world. It works exceptionally well on localized fat bulges and is otherwise known as CoolSculpting. By applying low temperatures to targeted areas of the body using thermal conduction over the course of several treatments, patients will see a gradual, but remarkable reduction in fat. This makes it one of the fastest growing businesses for skin spas and clinics in the country.