Research competition, market needs before purchasing aesthetic technologies


Walnut Creek, Calif. — Before investing in aesthetic devices, physicians need to do their homework and carefully weigh the pros and cons of each device and attend lectures focused on various aesthetic devices and technologies. This approach may help them ultimately choose an aesthetic device that is right for them and their patients.

Dr. Lee

“Many physicians may find it very difficult to keep up with the fast-paced aesthetic market in terms of the new and evolving technologies available. Many different companies offer very similar devices with various catchy names,” says Min-Wei Christine Lee, M.D., M.P.H., dermatologic surgeon and director, East Bay Laser & Skin Care Center, Walnut Creek, Calif. “However, oftentimes these devices can achieve similar aesthetic outcomes, adding frustration to the would-be investor in terms of which device to choose.”

Many of the competing aesthetic companies often come out with similar products that may not even be new in terms of the technology used — only their version of other longer-standing devices and technologies is what’s novel. Currently, there are more than 20 companies that manufacture fractional resurfacing lasers, but according to Dr. Lee, not all of these devices perform in the same ways or produce the same level of results.

It can be hard for doctors to know what new devices can really do and ascertain whether a device is actually new simply by reading company literature.

“The problem is that there is no consumer report for laser industry for doctors,” Dr. Lee says. “Therefore, I and physicians like myself will evaluate these devices and try to sift through the hype and marketing pitches to see what these devices can actually do and achieve what they claim.”

Aesthetics defined

According to Dr. Lee, the different categories of aesthetics must first be defined, and here, it is important that physicians know which category a given device falls under and the clinical endpoints one can achieve.

UltraShape (UltraShape), for example, is a body-contouring device and one of the only modalities that actually melts fat. This is different from endermology devices such as the Vela-Smooth and VelaShape (Syneron), which do not melt fat but are used for cellulite and skin tightening.

For more in-depth information on aesthetic devices, physicians should not only ask their colleagues for appropriate guidance, but also attend meetings and lectures dedicated to offering more insight on the different capabilities of aesthetic devices. According to Dr. Lee, simply conferring with individual companies may not always be the best approach, as each company seeks to promote its device in the best light.

When shopping for an aesthetic device, Dr. Lee says it is imperative that each company comes into the office to give a demonstration of a particular device. This way, the physician can compare the specifics of each device first-hand and see what each can achieve in their aesthetic patients.

It’s also important that the physician perform an extensive literature search and read the white papers published on a device of interest. Researching each individual company is also very important when considering an investment in an expensive aesthetic device.

“There can be a big difference between newer companies and longer-established companies in terms of the service one may receive should the device fail or require maintenance sometime after its purchase. Also, physicians should investigate whether a company was bought out from another, as this may be a cause for confusion in terms of the responsibility of servicing a device in the future,” Dr. Lee says.

Buyer beware

Physicians need to research and understand market needs in their area of practice, know who the competition is and determine whether other physicians in their area are offering similar treatments using similar devices.

Dr. Lee says many physicians will often invest in an aesthetic device without doing enough research and then wonder when the device does not return the expected and even promised investment. On average, physicians should spend at least six months researching different companies and devices before arriving at their device of choice.

“An aesthetic device can be an extremely expensive office investment. Therefore, it behooves doctors to take the appropriate precautions and find transparency among the different devices available, so that the decisions made are solid,” Dr. Lee says.

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