The lies people tell

We often get people asking our option about equipment they want to buy. They will forward an ad or quotation and usually ask if it is possible to do X, using this machine. The information that came cross our mailboxes have over the years changed from informative to imaginative to a point now that 95% of what we see can be classified as either Sci-Fi or Pie-in-the-sky.
Given the effort we sometimes need to put in to establish what is true or possible in some circumstances is mind-boggling. It is understandable that the buyer today is simply overwhelmed.

One of the first things we usually recommend is that if they promise it, you should experience it in person. With this we do not mean a once-off quick demo, but a complete course of treatments or at least 4 treatment. If a representative shows you a video of how this wonderful machine can do hair removal on two complete legs in 9 minutes do at least 4 full leg sessions on this machine using that exact technique on yourself and then wait 3 months before you make a buying decision. If it is true, this machine will be worth paying full price for. And if you are pushed to make a buying decision without proper first-hand experience, the best decision is always to decline.

So what are the main themes we encounter nowadays in the marketing materials that get send to us?
The first one is treatment speed. It has been for a while now that manufactures have an ‘arms race’ on who provides the quickest treatment. The claims used to be a time saving of 10 to 30 % on the competition. Now it is not unusual to hear a claim that the longest part of the client interaction is to swipe the client’s credit card.

The truth is that there is no machine on the market that is too slow to run a commercially successful laser clinic. Even with the super fast machines you have to decrease the speed in reality if you wish to gain lasting results without severe side effects. Taking hair removal as example, the thermal damage time needed for hair removal is between 200 ms and 400 ms. Since very few people can perceive milliseconds, this means no more than two pulses per second. On top of that you have to heat the dermal papilla to 65 °C or more. Thus, you need enough energy focused on one follicle to heat the hair and allow time for the heat to spread to the surrounding tissue and then make sure the surrounding tissue stays above a minimum temperature for a certain length of time.
As we’ve discussed in previous articles you get away with less energy and a gliding motion given that you have thick dark hair on a light enough skin for the first session or two.

Apart from the time that is needed for the reaction in the skin, you also need to factor time in for skin cooling and client comfort or else you will end up with no returning clients. Keep in mind that laser treatments are luxury treatments and the most important factor for running a successful laser clinic is the client experience. Even if your results are superior to all others, without a good client experience you will not be able to make a clinic work. This means that your client needs to value your service more than the money she has to spend with you and spending a reasonable amount of time with the client contribute greatly to the perceived value.

Another theme becoming popular is multi-wavelength diode lasers. This is when the machine has a handpiece with 3 different types of diodes providing you with various wavelengths. The common argument is that it provides you with the best of all three wavelengths. The problem is that it is only a portion of the truth. It also provides you with the worst of all three wavelengths and it divides the power provided by the power-supply of the machine over three diodes with different efficiency factors. The three wavelengths do not increase the fluence or ‘strength’ of the machine. It remains the same, but is now divided over 3 wavelengths.

We have encounter no evidence that a multi-wavelength handpiece provides any more value or benefit than a single wavelength handpiece for hair removal. Given the fact that the wavelength determines the target molecules in the skin you end-up with a situation where you spread your energy over more molecules that absorb the energy. For something like skin rejuvenation this may be a good thing and that is why IPL’s give good rejuvenation results.

The last thing we will look at in this article is the technical specifications provided. It has become almost impossible to get accurate specifications for a machine nowadays. A manufacture will have a range of options for each machine and will only provide the client with specifications that looks good on paper and may be available on the most expensive version. Most buyers don’t bother with this because they don’t understand it anyway. The technical specifications tell you what exactly you buy and what you can do with it.
When you want to purchase a machine insist on the full technical specifications for the model and version of machine that you want to purchase and then find someone that can help you to understand it.

It is understandable why people buy equipment without understanding what it is that they are buying because the misinformation is just so overwhelming. But keep this in mind; once you’ve bought a machine you will not get your money back when you’ve realized that it was the wrong machine for your needs or the person selling it to you misled you. There is a general misperception that people think that when they buy equipment for professional exploitation they are also covered by consumer protection laws. This is not the case, the law assumes that if you want to sell services or products professionally you possess the necessary knowledge to make the right buying decisions.

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