Surrounded by some 40 energy devices at his Nashville, Tenn., cosmetic dermatology practice, Michael H. Gold, M.D., says he uses lasers to treat the spectrum of cosmetic concerns, from wrinkles and blood vessels to hair and tattoo removal.
There is no right or wrong about whether physicians should stock up on lasers or choose to go laser-less. Rather, the decision is practice specific, he says.
“… you can look at cosmetic surgery and say, we’re going to be the clinic that does toxins and fillers all day long. I know people who do it and don’t own any devices,” Dr. Gold says. “When I look at a patient who has a certain need for a device, I want to be able to offer the device.”
Those who want to add laser devices to their practices should focus on which technologies would best serve their patient populations, according to Dr. Gold.
Among the gold-standard laser technologies are fractional CO2 or fractional erbium (Er):YAG lasers, which allow providers to rejuvenate skin, treat scars and more, while offering the versatility of doing full ablation if needed, he says.
“If you’re into treating things that are associated with blood, then you need a pulsed dye laser of some kind. But some people don’t want to buy a pulsed dye laser, and instead get a KTP,” he says.
Potassium titanyl phosphate (KTP) lasers, which use 532nm coherent green light energy, are great if there’s a small blood vessel to remove, according to Dr. Gold.
“It’s a nice device to have to clean up what my pulsed dye doesn’t get. The more sophisticated the KTP, the better,” he says.
One laser type that cosmetic practices might be avoiding due to commoditization is the 810 diode, widely used for hair removal.
“I think dermatologists and plastic surgeons should still be doing hair removal because it will work to your advantage for other procedures. But hair removal is commoditized now, and there are lots of people doing it,” he says.
The answer, Dr. Gold says, isn’t necessarily to provide every available laser, but rather the energy devices that will best help a practice’s patients achieve their aesthetic goals. A dermatologist, for example, should consider having one or two go-to devices to complement fillers, toxins and skincare, he says.
Disclosure: Dr. Gold is a consultant for: Alma, Lumenis, Syneron, EndyMed, Venus Concept, Thermi, SkinCeuticals, Defanage, Sente, Merz, Galderma, Croma and Allergan. He is chairman of the medical advisory board for Aerolase.