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Cost of Therapies Dip With Devices
By MSP Staff | Published 07/15/2007 | Business Trends |
MSP Staff
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Cost of Therapies Dip With Devices

Professional laser hair removal is a $2.7 billion business, and makers of home laser devices hope to tap into the market. In December, the FDA cleared a home device from Gillette, but the device won’t be available this year.

“We are not going to launch something until we are 100 percent satisfied with everything about the device,” says Kelly Vanasse, a spokeswoman for Gillette. “We’re still working on it.”

Light emitted from the device is absorbed by the dark pigment in the hair follicle. The energy is converted to heat, causing the hair to fall out in a couple of days. Repeated treatments are needed to target the hair follicles in their various stages of growth.

Some data suggest that the hair that grows back is lighter and finer, but it’s not clear how often the hand-held device will have to be used.

Professional laser hair removal treatments can cost $300 or more a treatment (several are needed) but can eventually eliminate shaving.

Pleasanton, Calif., company SpectraGenics is already selling a home-use laser hair removal device outside the country. The company is seeking FDA clearance to sell the device in the United States, says Robert Grove, president of SpectraGenics.

“Laser hair removal in an office setting is an enormously successful enterprise,” he says. “The convenience of doing laser hair removal at home we think will be of great interest.”

Skin rejuvenation

RejuvaWand, which purports to soften facial wrinkles, sends red and infrared light into the skin in four-minute treatments. The device, which became available in February for $200, is designed to stimulate cellular production of collagen, plumping up wrinkles and thin skin.

RejuvaWand has not received FDA clearance although the manufacturer, Light Dimensions in Palo Alto, Calif., has applied for the designation.

The company recently announced the conclusions of its own clinical study of 36 women showing that 67 percent reported an overall average improvement of 13 percent in facial wrinkles and skin texture.

The improvements increased slightly after 60 days of use. The device must be used daily for 60 days and twice a week thereafter to maintain the effects.

“If you look at what we’re doing – a non-thermal, non-destructive type of energy applied to the skin – we’re getting a statistically significant amount of improvement,” says Dr. Leonardo Rasi, a laser surgeon in Redlands, Calif., who performed the study under contract with Light Dimensions but who has no other financial ties to the company.

But, he says, “this is not going to replace all doctors’ lasers and light treatments.”

Other doctors are dubious. In-office treatments, such as laser treatments, filler injections and face-lifts, can be painful and costly – ranging from about $500 to thousands of dollars – but produce results that are substantial and predictable.

Hair regrowth

About 55 million American men have some degree of hair loss, thus creating a potentially big market for an effective at-home treatment.

The HairMax LaserComb may be an option for men who don’t want to pay for hair restoration surgery but who also don’t have high expectations. It delivers a specific wavelength of light that stimulates the hair follicle, says its manufacturer, Lexington International.

In studies by the manufacturer, the device increased the number of thick hairs in 93 percent of 120 users. The average increase in hair density was 19 hairs per square centimeter – about a 20 percent improvement in someone with thinning hair.

The device costs $545 and must be used 10 to 15 minutes a day, three times a week to maintain the effect.

In contrast, laser hood treatments, which are available in clinics and cover the entire scalp, can cost hundreds of dollars per treatment and need to be repeated at least twice a week.

Hair transplants provide a more permanent solution but typically cost thousands of dollars. Topical medications, such as Rogaine, run about $10 a bottle for the generic but produce only modest results for some users.

The laser hair comb is not backed by randomized, controlled studies done by independent researchers, says Dr. Paul Cotterill, president of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery. The device may be best suited for men who are serious about hair regrowth, such as those who undergo hair transplantation and want to augment the result at home, he says.

“This new laser comb won’t hurt, and it may help at maintaining hair,” Cotterill says. “But I want to see third-party studies – studies that have not been done by the people who produced it.”

Other laser hair regrowth devices are on the market but haven’t received FDA clearance to make claims of effectiveness. Sunetics, which sells the Laser Hair Brush, is applying for FDA clearance, says John Carullo, the company’s marketing director.

Acne treatment

The two home-based laser acne devices on the market – ThermaClear and Zeno – are not meant to help prevent acne or improve chronic acne, but simply to treat existing blemishes. Both are based on laser technology used by dermatologists and use controlled bursts of heat.

“Unlike topical products, the heat device is able to penetrate the layers of the skin,” says Peter Scocimara, chief executive of Therative, which makes ThermaClear. “This will not prevent the onset of new acne lesions. People still need comprehensive therapy.”

Most dermatologists think the devices are handy for people who want to treat the occasional, untimely pimple. The burst of heat, which isn’t painful, destroys the bacteria in the pimple and helps the skin heal faster.

Zeno, the first device to receive FDA clearance, in 2005, clears 90 percent of blemishes in 24 to 48 hours, according to its manufacturer, Houston-based Tyrell Inc. ThermaClear will heal acne two to four times faster than normal (normal varies among individuals) than if left untreated, according to its manufacturer, Therative in Livermore, Calif. The devices don’t work on blackheads, whiteheads or cystic acne.

Both Zeno and ThermaClear cost about $150. No studies have been done comparing the devices with topical or oral acne treatments.

Original Source: Shari Roan; Los Angeles Times;

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