Laser hair removal is the most sought after form of permanent hair reduction in the cosmetic market and is listed as one of the top 5 non-invasive procedures in the nation. In 2012 a study showed that the laser hair removal market was 367 million dollars while only having shown increases in the coming years. With such a broad market to reach many small business entrepreneurs want to tap into the market and take their share. Subsequently, a great number of laser hair removal centers have opened up in the last 5 years, giving customers a number of different technologies and pricing options they can choose from. The concern for you, the customer, is finding the correct treatment center that uses experienced certified laser hair removal technicians and the correct technology coupled with the correct treatment settings to bring about the most safe yet effective treatment plan. This can be a daunting task for any consumer who doesn’t know much about the laser cosmetic industry. Inexperienced technicians, poor outdated technology, and improper treatment settings are all dangers of laser hair removal that can leave the customer with less than optimal results or, worse yet, complications like burns and hypo/hyperpigmentation (the loss of or excessive appearance of pigment on the skin). With all the new clinics opening up every day, a trend of “discount laser hair removal” has surfaced. With the current costs associated with opening and sustaining laser hair removal centers, some pricing out there leaves the ability to provide the customers what they need questionable at the least. Here is what you need to know in order to notice and avoid these less than optimal centers.
Cost of Laser Hair Removal for the Business Owner
Any new business has to deal with the cost and overhead of opening their doors and the laser cosmetic field is no exception. The cost of renovations, lasers, laser maintenance/warranty, employees, malpractice insurance, doctors, marketing, and utilities does not justify laser hair removal as a low overhead business. Overhead for a typical premium laser hair removal center is in the tens of thousand of dollars each month! The cost of a brand new state of the art laser hair removal machine is upwards of $100,000 dollars alone! When a business is opened the pricing set for the customer is directly correlated to the overhead that has to be endured. After all, the business is there to make a profit. Furthermore, experienced and certified laser technicians that understand the specific technology they are using to make the most optimal treatment plan are also both hard to find and expensive to employ, especially in the Las Vegas area due to the cities transient workforce. Keeping these factors in mind, how can a laser hair removal center charge these ridiculously low rates? Lets look at a number of possible factors contributing to this trend
One of the biggest purchases a laser hair removal center will make is acquiring a laser machine. There are a number of different technologies out there that treat unwanted hairs, some much less optimal than others. IPL (Intense pulse light) machines are a perfect example of outdated technology that carries a higher risk of unwanted side effects. An IPL machine costs a fraction of what the newer laser hair removal technologies cost and many business owners make the mistake of buying an IPL machine to keep their prices low, but only to the detriment of the customer. Horror stories of IPL machine burns are flooded all over the internet, it isn’t a pretty picture! The gold standard cutting edge technology for the safest and most effective laser hair removal treatments are done with the Alexandrite and Yag laser systems. An Alexandrite laser can treat those with fairer skin tones, while the Yag is used for those with much darker skin tones. Be careful where these systems come from. A lot of cheap, counterfeit, and unapproved laser systems from no name brands can be found flooded on the market from China. Make sure your laser center is using a reputable brand of laser system. We use only Candela laser systems for hair removal, they are considered the top of the line gold standard in the laser cosmetic industry. For more info see our article on the History of Laser Hair Removal.
Improper Lasers and Treatment Settings
One of the biggest concerns for the consumer when dealing with discount laser hair removal clinics is improper treatment protocols. These centers that charge way below the market average of laser hair removal costs are very likely using settings that are not adequate for the most safe, yet effective, treatment protocol. I cannot tell you how many times i have seen a new laser hair removal clinic open up with only a Yag laser. Yes, the Yag laser can treat all skin types making it a better laser to buy for someone who is trying to keep costs low. Unfortunately, the Yag system is much less effective on lighter skin tones than the Alexandrite. The Yag was made for those with much darker skin tones, like those of African or Indian descent. Even the gold standard Candela Alexandrite and Yag lasers used with the correct skin tones will not be effective if the treatment settings on the laser are set too low. Each laser has an energy output that is measured in joules. A tech has to treat the client on the highest possible joules that is safe in order to get the most optimal results, gradually moving up in joules as needed. These discount clinics purposely treat their clients on very low settings, causing the need for more sessions of laser hair removal in the long run. Furthermore, if the center is scheduling you every 8 weeks for an area that should be treated every 4 weeks, you are missing at least one hair growth cycle every year (hair grows in cycles, and multiple sessions of hair removal are necessary to catch all the cycles of hair growth in any given treatment area). In other words, you may be paying half the price for your sessions at some center up the street, but you will very likely need to come in for a number of more treatments than you would if you were treated on the higher and safe settings you should be getting treated on. Its very likely that you would actually spend less money paying more per session at a clinic that treats you at the right settings!
Volume Sales Philosophy
In order for a discount laser hair removal center to keep its doors open, it has to do volume sales. Since their price per session of their treatments are much lower than other laser hair removal centers, they have to do at least one or a combination of a) get a large client base, b) keep their costs very low, or c) keep their same clients coming in for an extended period of time as explained in the last paragraph to make a profit. A laser center that does not have a large profit margins would have a difficult time funding a sustainable marketing campaign that would bring in the large sales volume necessary to reach profitability. The likely best option for a discount laser center is to keep their costs low and keep their customers coming in for an extended period of time, past the average necessary treatments.
The Inexperienced Laser Technician
Nothing is more dangerous than a laser technician that is inexperienced and/or uneducated. These lasers can put out a lot of energy, and with incorrect settings and/or technique the technician can do a lot of damage to the customer. Since the discount laser center is trying to keep their costs low they are likely hiring technicians straight from a laser hair removal school. A fresh laser technician with no experience is paid much less than one who is a veteran in the trade. Its also likely that the tech is being overworked. Volume says equal to long hours of laser hair removal. Having lasered clients myself for a number of years I know what kind of toll these sessions can take on the technician. Back pain, wrist pain, and mental fatigue are all concerns for technicians. I always make sure my techs have extra 15 minute breaks in the day to combat any fatigue they may feel. Furthermore, some states do not require a laser hair removal technician to have any certifications or education! Thats right folks, in some cities, like Las Vegas, there is no need to be certified as a laser tech! Anyone can sit in front of that laser and cluelessly zap away without any criminal consequences! Always make sure your laser hair removal technician is certified by a reputable laser cosmetics school and holds a current laser safety officer certification. If she isn’t a certified laser safety officer make sure the clinic has at least one certified laser safety officer staffed! Our policy at Ivy Laser Salon is that all tech have to be certified laser techs, laser safety officers, and have at least a certification in esthetics or cosmetology.
I hope that this article gives you, the customer, the knowledge needed to make the right decision in which laser hair removal center to use. We at Ivy Laser Salon in the Las Vegas and Henderson area only use the best technology, the most experienced certified techs, and the safest/most effect treatment plans possible.
Important Points to Take Away from this Article
- Cheaper is not always better, you get what you pay for
- Make sure your tech is certified and experienced
- You might be paying less per session, but you’ll likely need to come in for more sessions than would be necessary with proper treatment.
- Make sure the clinic is using the right laser for your skin type. Either an Alexandrite or Yag based on your skin tone