In this article we will look at some practical points that are important to keep in mind when you look at equipment to purchase. It is of utmost importance that you fully understand the treatment parameters relevant to the treatments you want to do with the machine to enable an informed decision.
The first question, is a triple wavelength diode laser handpiece better for hair removal than a single wavelength diode laser? For background info you can have a look at a previous article, Triple wavelength diode laser hand-piece: marketing gimmick or advanced technology?
The short answer is that a single wavelength handpiece is the better option. A manufacturer can only optimize for one wavelength in the handpiece. Thus, you will be best served with a single wavelength.
Secondly, is the build-in cooling sufficient. You need to know if you’re looking at active build-in cooling to protect the epidermis during treatment. Or build-in cooling to cool the various components of the machine during operation. It must be clearly stipulated that the machine has active skin cooling.
The build-in active cooling is usually not sufficient on its own. To transfer the heat from the skin to the contact part and then to the cold water, one requires time. Most therapists work at a higher pace than what the cooling needs to be effective and therefore you probably need a second cooling source. This can be in the form of a cooling device like an air blower, or ice packs. If you have a look at the article “Working with gel“, you will understand why cooling gel is an ineffective option.
With hair removal specifically, you need a longer pulse length. In the article, The importance of pulse length, you will find that you need a minimum pulse length to ensure permanent hair removal. The thermal damage time (TDT) for hair is between 200 ms and 400 ms. Thus, you need to look for a machine that can at the very least keep a pulse going for 200 ms, but preferably much longer.
For tattoo removal the pulse length is just as important. But here you have to remember that 1 nanosecond is the same as 1000 picoseconds. If a manufacturer calls his machine a pico laser, the pulse length must be less than 1000 picoseconds. Else it is a nanosecond laser, just presented as a picosecond laser. Especially Chinese manufacturers love to do this. 2000 picoseconds = 2 nanoseconds.
It is very important to remember that with the increase in energy you will not get a linear increase in results. What I mean with this is that you may treat a tattoo at 600 mJ and have no reaction and lift it 800 mJ and still have no reaction. But, when you lift it to 850 mJ you suddenly have quite a reaction. The same can be said for other types of treatments. Therefore, it is best to make small incremental changes in energy when you’re not familiar with the equipment or how the client reacts.
For hair removal you will usually refer to fluence, J/cm2, and not power, W. If a manufacturer only states power, W, or joules, J, you should ask yourself what it is he tries to hide. This is usually the case with less expensive entry-level equipment. It is expensive to build a machine that has the capability to deliver high energy (J) in a reasonable time (power, W) on a workable surface (cm2). And one or more of these parameters are usually disappointing with an inexpensive machine.
The high-end machines for tattoo removal will be 2 or more Joule. It is unreasonable to expect any satisfactory results from a machine with 1 or less Joule. Thus, a machine that can only go up to 1000 mJ.
With tattoo removal it is also important to keep in mind that you will lose a lot of energy when you use a dye handpiece. It may sound interesting to you to have multiple dye handpieces for your machine, but be realistic in your expectations on the results you will achieve with such handpieces.
Most manufacturers nowadays have a range for each model of machine they manufacture. With this I mean that you can choose between different energy settings and handpieces and more. It has become very common to provide a prospective client with the top of the range specifications and then use vague language like, it can go up to …, or it starts from…
Make sure that you get the exact specifications of the unit you will be buying. There is a huge difference between a machine that can go up to 20 J/cm2 or one that can go to 50 J/cm2. And are we comparing it with the same handpiece?
If it is a good deal today, it will still be a good deal tomorrow. Be very careful with sales people that try to force a decision. This does not mean that I recommend to you to be indecisive and procrastinate over a buying decision. But it does mean that it is reasonable to take the time necessary to make an informed decision and discuss it with people you trust and know about the topic.