How to choose the right used laser for your practice
You may already have an idea of what you want, but it’s important to ask yourself if this machine is a good fit for your practice and your budget. You’ll need to crunch the numbers to work out if the revenue you expect to be able to access with the machine will realistically support your financial outlay.
Make sure you tell the broker what you want, rather than the other way around. All you need from your broker is the facts and technical support to be able to determine what is going to work for your business. This means considering your needs, the type of equipment you would like to buy, and your budget constraints. Be wary if a seller seems to be trying to steer you to buy one particular machine only, and they don’t seem to know much about the equipment they are selling, or if they are trying to make you go over your budget.
Some of the things you should consider are:
To run a profitable practice you need to be offering high dollar/high margin procedures, with the goal of increasing revenue but also providing the best possible results. For example, consider offering larger packages offering repeat treatments as these are most effective in showing better results than single treatments. They also ensure the client returns.
The type of machine you need depends on the type of population you service. You’ll need to identify the market characteristics to choose which machines are best suited to your practice profile, to ensure you don’t buy the wrong laser for your target client base. Consider such characteristics as gender, age and ethnicity (Fitzpatrick Skin Types I through VI).
Wavelengths will vary depending on the skin tone of the patient. In other words, for lighter skinned patients, a hair removal laser such as Alexandrite is suitable. For darker skin tones, a 1064 Nd-YAG would be necessary. For a client base with a mix of all skin types, experts suggest a diode laser with long pulse width.
(For a quick breakdown on the different types of hair removal lasers, click here.)
- Spot size
The laser’s spot size represents the skin area which can be covered by the laser pulse. Larger spot size lasers will be able to more quickly cover a greater area. In the past, undergoing a full laser hair removal procedure for the back or legs may have taken around two hours, whereas now the same areas can be treated in under 20 minutes.
Pulses per second are measured in hertz, which reflect the speed at which the laser emits the pulse. An important element of the device, some lasers can emit pulses at around 3 per second, meaning the technician can cover more skin more quickly.
To calculate the true cost of providing treatments, you must factor in the cost of consumables (such as single-use treatment tips, Cryogen canisters, coupling fluid, lightguides, handpieces that have certain pulse life, filters, fibres and so on) in order to determine breakeven costs and profit.
- How old is the equipment?
The older the machine, the less user-friendly it is likely to be, and the more chance it will require a great deal of training for a technician to use properly. It may suffer from lack of third party support or availability of technicians that are suitably qualified. Some of the problems technicians experience with older machines include: lack of correct calibration or maintenance procedures, interfaces that are not intuitive, and issues such as inadequate cooling on the skin. On the other hand, newer machines are generally safer and more user-friendly thanks to advances in technology. Having said that, technology hasn’t actually changed a great deal in the past five years and you can get a great deal on a laser that has not been used frequently or is less than 3 or 4 years old.
- Does it come with TGA approval?
Always choose only TGA approved models of medical laser devices. While there are plenty of Chinese manufacturing companies these days selling cheaply over the internet, these are usually not TGA approved and present a huge risk in terms of legal liability.
- What standard accessories does it come with?
Be certain about what is included in the purchase price. There are many accessories to consider, such as: operating manuals, treatment parameter guides, keys, operator and patient eyewear, footswitch, Cryogen, treatment tips, additional fibres, water refill kits, light guides and hand pieces.
- Is installation included?
Installation is not always included in the price, so check whether the service is included. It usually costs extra, but a qualified laser service technician will ensure that the system is all set up correctly. This is particularly important if you are very new to the device. It is highly recommended and worthwhile paying the extra cost to ensure that the unit is set up properly and that no accidental misuse occurs.
- What about training?
You need to learn how to operate, store and maintain your device, and this will mean an investment in training yourself and your employees. Your seller may be able to advise on any training programs they offer or any training schools they can recommend. An alternative is to hire a staff member who is already trained in the use of the medical laser device you wish to purchase.
Tips for negotiating
Once you have undertaken your online research you will be armed with the best information to bring to your meeting with your broker with the aim of buying a laser device at or below the fair market value. Ideally, you have chosen a broker based on the recommendation of a trusted colleague or industry expert. When negotiating, start with a low opening offer, but within the ballpark, and always know your high limit. If the seller or broker is asking for a higher price because they believe the device is in good condition (for example, it has a low pulse count or was refurbished recently), then make sure they can provide you with documentation to prove the same.
So, you’ve found the perfect machine at the perfect price and are ready to purchase. Once you have made your decision to go ahead, make sure you obtain a comprehensive invoice from the broker, detailing everything included in the price, any warranties provided and the relevant time period. Last but not least, check that shipping insurance is included to safeguard against damage while shipping, which you could otherwise be liable for.
In conclusion, it makes a lot of business sense to buy a pre-owned medical laser device. However, it is important to ensure you are not buying a lemon, so make sure to follow our tips above to achieve the best deal on the most suitable machine for your practice. If you do need any further assistance or clarification, please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.