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Aesthetic Surgery:

Photonics Spectra
Aug 1998
Laser Market Shows Its Age

Daniel C. McCarthy, News Editor

Compared with other surgical cosmetic procedures, lasers are less invasive and enable faster recovery and often superior results. While the cost of a laser-based procedure is often higher than other methods, it has flourished in plastic surgery, where cost for service is not governed by the limitations and regulations associated with insurance reimbursement. Instead, cosmetic laser surgery is driven by demand from patients who actively seek out services and can afford the higher fees for better results. Lasers' effectiveness has allowed them to grow from a relatively unfamiliar instrument at the beginning of this decade to near saturation of certain segments of the dermatological industry. The challenge to laser manufacturers is interpreting where they should allocate their finite resources for development. Even if an aging population suggests resurfacing is an immediate growth market, the sales base revolves tightly around plastic surgeons, who tend to have higher cash flow than dermatologists or reconstructive plastic surgeons. Laser use is less common among these latter groups, who often practice out of managed-care facilities and lack the space, working capital and affluent clientele that can justify purchase of a $100,000 instrument.


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