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Ruth’s top ten tips to ask before buying an IPL machine

Written by NZ Laser Training Limited on September 1st, 2017.      0 comments

1. Is it an IPL or a Laser you really need? – for improvement of benign pigmented lesions and mottled superficial defuse vascular issues, IPL is perfect, however if your clients present with deeper individual veins or you hope to specialise in facial veins, a laser would be best. Perhaps check out an Nd:Yag laser.

2. Do you intend to advertise ‘Laser hair removal’ – then you will need a laser. IPL hair removal utilises the wavelengths typically starting from 640nm-695nm starting point which doesn’t reach as deep into terminal hair follicles, this can lead to results known as photo-waxing. Most IPL hair removal clients may need ‘top up’s done every few months. If you intend to state you use a Laser, then you will be looking at Diode, Alexandrite, or Nd:Yag Laser technologies. Some newer options include multiple wavelengths on a single Laser platform for maximised results. If you want to offer fine hair reduction on lighter skin types, IPL is perfect. Try to get 695nm filter or higher for best results.

3. Will you be aiming to treat Fitzpatrick skin types IV and V ? – you will need a range for wavelengths making it safer to treat darker skin types and ethnic skins who tan rapidly. Some machines will state that they can treat these skin types by simply turning down the energy which makes it safe, but you should also be asking will the treatment be effective? Ask the supplier for quality images, with settings used and time frames showing at least 3 hair growth cycles completed. You can’t be everything to everyone, so pick who and what you hope to specialise in and seek technology to match this goal.

4. What will your business look like in 3 years? – Will you be needing to offer skin rejuvenation from one treatment room and hair removal from another? – if so, you might consider two separate platforms rather than one multiplatform with limitations. Now is the time to think and plan, don’t be fooled by one miracle solution system that is underpowered and will end up underutilised. Often suppliers can offer a great deal on a second system when purchased at the same time, it’s also worth asking for any ex:demo models or ex: lease models that have been reconditioned.

5. Do you want to specialise in skin tightening or body contouring- these clinical applications require infrared based technology that works differently to regular IPL. The idea that handpieces used to target pigmentation or blood can miraculously also target fat, cellulite or retighten collagen is not accurate. Radio frequency (RF) is often coupled with IPL but must be able to produce effective heat evenly and deep enough to have any beneficial effect. Again, a separate system targeting fat (adipose) tissue, water (skin tightening / collagen) is more likely to produce repeatable and quality results. IPL can not do breast lifts, tummy tucks, or fat reduction.

6. Thought Tattoo removal was a quick ad on? – Think again, lasers for tattoo removal need to be Q-Switched and produce not only the right amount of energy in the right amount of time, but also a good range of spot sizes and wavelengths which in turn affect the safe and effective outcomes for clients. A simple point and shoot tattoo laser gun will typically result in scarring the same shape as the original tattoo. Although some multiplatform systems will scrap through, if you truly want to specialise in laser tattoo removal a separate system with an articulated arm will produce pleasing results for those serious about getting the best outcomes for clients.

7. Fixed filter handpieces versus slot in wave guides - when it comes to switching from one application to another, you usually have the choice of changing the whole IPL handpiece, or simply slotting in a different wave guide (Filter), and there are pro’s and con’s to both options. The advantage of changing filters on the fly is that this is quick, and having a great range of options means the right filter can be used depending on who and what you are wanting to treat; however sticky finger prints on the filter, or damaged coatings can cause the filter to become ineffective and wear and tear might require a replacement. The traditional style IPL handpiece has a fixed filter in place, this can mean no damage to the internal components as these are not visible to the IPL operator. Filters play a vital role so think this one through, will they be easily broken, lost or damaged, and how easily do you want to be able to switch from one filter to another.

8. What training will be required and who will be providing this – 4-5 star IPL suppliers generally provide ½ to 1 day training per application. Take into account who will be your IPL champion and look to invest in additional education for this person to maximise your return on investment. If a company states they can train you in all applications in less than 3 days, they are leaving something important out. Laser safety certification isn’t training on the machine, it covers best practice and the basic do’s and don’ts. Negotiate with the supplier for your clinic’s needs, your team size and your desired level of competency in all applications. Ensure the person providing the training in your clinic has qualifications and solid clinical experience – sales people do not make natural trainers and educators. Leave the education to the experts.

9. What access to resources can be provided – I’m not just referring to pretty brochures to help you sway clients into buying treatments. You will need solid clinical examples to reference when you are presented with clients seeking specific results. Particularly vascular issues where there is often one shot to get the right result. Or when there are many variables in pulse structures to choose from. As an operator, you will rely on examples you can duplicate or least be guided by when presented with similar cases. This is vital when starting out as every machine is different and the more evidence you can base your decisions on the better your outcomes will be.

10. Service, calibration and loan machines – ensure that the supplier can verify the IPL machines output of energy and correct it if the variance is more than 20%. (or what is stated as acceptable by the manufacturer). Whilst giving an output reading requires special testing equipment, bear in mind that this differs from electrical safety testing which just means there is no leakage of electricity that could cause harm. (test and tag) It is a bonus if the supplier can lend you a loan machine whilst yours is under service, this also means no disruption to your client’s treatments. As this is a field requiring specialty qualifications, and the requirement to meet International safety and testing standards you could expect that the service technician is internationally qualified, so be nosey and ask questions. It is now a requirement in Auckland that all IPL and Lasers can be calibrated, you may be asked to prove this can and has been done. Other regional Councils may follow this guideline in future.

Education is the key to ensuring you know all the in’s and out’s of IPL and Lasers, please never attempt offering any treatments without first completing thorough and comprehensive training.

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Ph: 0800 960 235
Topics: Laser and IPL




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