These days, laser therapy is a staple on most medical spa menus. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the number of laser skin-resurfacing procedures has more than doubled since the year 2000. With minimal pain, discomfort, or downtime, laser therapy is a much-requested treatment used for a variety of cosmetic issues because of these benefits. Offering laser services is not only advantageous for clients but also lucrative for medical spas, because it typically takes several treatments to achieve desired results, ensuring return visits. Now, thanks to the latest advancements in technology, there are even more uses for laser therapy that clients can take advantage of, which, in turn, will help you expand your client base and boost your bottom line. “Less-invasive procedures with a shorter recovery or no downtime are in demand, making laser therapy very popular,” says dual-board-certified plastic surgeon James Marotta, M.D.
Typically used for tattoo and scar removal, pigmentation correction, and anti-aging treatments, laser services are almost as commonplace in a medical spa as getting a massage at a traditional spa. “In my practice, we use lasers all the time to treat wrinkles, spots, veins, and pigmented lesions and to perform skin tightening in patients with laxity,” says Brent Moelleken, M.D., who practices at Moelleken Plastic Surgery and The Neo Center (Beverly Hills, CA). “Most of our patients are seeking a quick result, with even quicker downtime. They want effective treatments that don’t cost a lot of money.”
But there are additional options that can be extended to clients, according to Moelleken, including combining laser therapy with traditional cosmetic procedures. “We have seen an upswing in conservative skin smoothing and resurfacing treatments performed in conjunction with facelifts,” he says. “We are also using lasers for the treatment of scars and the improvement of surgical incisions on all parts of the body. The newer lasers are much less painful to the patient and offer greater effectiveness.”
Marcel Daniels, M.D., a plastic surgeon at ImageMD and ImageMD Med Spa (Long Beach, CA), also combines laser therapy with other procedures to achieve optimal results. “Although not a laser, Ultherapy, which is an ultrasound technology that rebuilds collagen is great and results in a tighter, more youthful look,” says Daniels. “We use this often and in combination with lasers and other surgical procedures. Sculptra, which is an injectable that volumizes, also works great in combination with laser technologies, because it counteracts the normal facial-wasting process that is a part of aging.”
Combining several techniques into one device is an easy way for medical spa professionals to simplify treatments. “A hot trend right now is the use of platform devices,” says Brian Radzill, marketing manager at Chromogenex. “Many manufacturers are incorporating more features into one device to expand its capabilities and increase improvements for patients. For example, we have a device that combines diode lasers with mechanical rollers and suctions.”
According to Radzill, lasers are also gaining attention in the weight-loss arena. “Fat reduction, skin tightening, and body shaping are experiencing faster growth than other treatments,” he says. “Liposuction is becoming an increasingly popular procedure, but people who are unwilling to expose themselves to the costs and risks of this elective surgery are looking for alternatives. That is where lasers step in.”
The latest trend in non-invasive laser fat removal is based on radio-frequency technology, which is used to heat superficial fat cells to high temperatures and melt them away. “Without a doubt, the latest trends in laser technologies are those targeting body-fat reduction,” says aesthetic surgeon Yan Trokel, M.D. The first forays into these technologies, laser-assisted liposculpting, elicited too many unpleasant side-effects—swelling, bruising, and discomfort—and spurred additional research and innovation. According to Trokel, cryolipolosis was the next generation and the first entirely non-surgical approach to fat reduction. “The technology is based on the understanding that inducing low temperatures in superficial fat cells will program them to die, while leaving the skin and surrounding tissues intact,” says Trokel. Requiring minimal downtime, the treatment delivers noticeable fat loss after several sessions over numerous weeks.
Hair Removal & Growth
Another popular client request is laser hair removal. “Recently, laser hair removal has been appearing on the cosmetic world radar more and more,” says Marotta. “Lasers offer an effective way of permanently eliminating unwanted hair. Laser hair removal is one of the top-five minimally invasive cosmetic procedures, as the newest lasers make permanent hair removal more comfortable and faster than ever. When performed by a professional, laser hair removal provides a lasting, relatively pain-free way of removing unwanted hair.”
Laser therapy doesn’t only help eliminate unwanted hair but it can also help promote hair growth. In 2007, the FDA gave clearance for the first low-level laser therapy (LLLT) medical device for the treatment of hair loss, but it is still taking some time to gain attention. At Professional Image and Laser Care Med Spa (Charlotte, NC), clients with hair-loss issues can opt for laser treatments that offer technology to regrow hair. Typically, there are multiple laser sessions included in the standard protocol, with each treatment 30 minutes in duration. These services are safe, harmless, and effective, using the natural boost of pure red light at precisely the right frequency to help regrow, revitalize, and restore hair. Evolutions Medical & Day Spa (Santa Barbara, CA) offers a similar treatment with a non-surgical, medical hair therapy program that is custom-tailored and designed to help stop hair loss and regrow hair using low-level laser therapy and an FDA-approved homecare prescription. Although there is still much to learn about this therapy, many medical spas are receiving requests from clients eager for a solution to their hair loss.
Whether part of the latest trends and techniques or one of the many tried-and-true laser services, it is imperative to make clients aware of the many benefits. “Of course there are many ways to promote laser therapy but, in my opinion, great results are the best form of promotion,” says Moelleken. “By ensuring good supervision by a physician and selecting capable laser technicians, the patient will receive the optimal treatment with the results they expect.” But Moelleken emphasizes the importance of proper training. “I encourage all laser users to follow standardized guidelines.”
When promoting any new services in your medical spa, education is key. “In terms of educating patients on the benefits of laser treatments and similar technologies, an old adage applies: A picture is worth a thousand words,” says Trokel. “Clients are driven by true changes and respond to results. When it comes to aesthetic procedures, patients want to know one thing: what is the result that I can expect? It is important for them to understand the safety and efficiency of each technology and be educated to receive treatments by only trained and experienced professionals.”