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Whether for hair removal or wrinkle reduction, there are now laser-based devices for home use on the market. Nadya Anscombe looks at this fast-growing market

asers have been used for aesthetic treatments in the clinical environment for many years for procedures such as hair removal, skin rejuvenation

and even liposuction. Now, with advances in miniaturisation, aesthetic laser treatments are finding their way into the home. The first application to make the leap from clinic to consumer was hair removal – light-based home- use devices for hair removal can now be found on store shelves next to the hair straighteners, electric toothbrushes and epilators. In the last twelve months another procedure has made the leap from clinic to consumer: skin rejuvenation. Two companies – first Palomar in the US and then Philips in the UK and the Netherlands – have launched laser-based home- use devices for skin rejuvenation. The devices promise to improve the overall appearance of skin, reduce fine lines and smooth out wrinkles. And there are plenty more companies developing products who want a share of this lucrative market.

‘The home-based market is the fastest growing medical sector for lasers,’ says Matthias Schulze, director of marketing for OEM components at Coherent. ‘We are experiencing stellar growth in aesthetic lasers for the clinical environment and predict that growth in lasers for the home-use market will be even higher.’

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Stuart Nunn, technical sales engineer at UK company Laser Components, agrees. He told Electro Optics: ‘We have been receiving an increasing number of enquiries from customers looking to enter the at-home laser-based skin rejuvenation market. The majority of these enquiries have come from customers already active in the at-home hair removal market. This market uses mainly 808nm laser diodes whereas skin rejuvenation requires diodes with wavelengths around 1470nm. Laser manufacturers need to get the cost of these laser chips down to a level where our customers can integrate them into affordable products.’ Information on upcoming products in this area

The PaloVia at-home laser device can be used for periorbital wrinkles. Images courtesy of Palomar 12 ELECTRO OPTICS l FEBRUARY 2012

is incredibly hard to come by due to commercial sensitivities, but industry sources tell Electro Optics that many of the major clinical equipment suppliers are developing home-use products. While this may seem counter-intuitive – home- use devices could potentially take business away from the clinics – system manufacturers believe the at-home market will stimulate the clinical market. Consumer products are always backed by expensive advertising campaigns and these will raise consumer awareness of laser-based skin rejuvenation in clinics as well as at home. But the consumer market is a challenging one for laser suppliers and system developers. While clinical instruments sell for five- or even six-figure sums, consumer devices are selling for under $800, with further price reductions predicted. While miniaturisation and cost reduction are major engineering challenges, developers have the added challenge of introducing extra safety measures as the devices will be used without trained supervision. Palomar, a leader in supplying lasers and intense pulsed light systems to clinicians, was the first company to overcome these challenges and launch its home-use product, the PaloVia, at the end of 2010. Like other laser equipment manufacturers who have no experience of selling directly to the public, Palomar teamed up with

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