Fractional laser competitors differentiate

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA—Three years ago, when Reliant Technologies introduced the first fractional skin rejuvenation system, many wondered whether the market really needed another laser.

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA—Three years ago, when Reliant Technologies introduced the first fractional skin rejuvenation system, many wondered whether the market really needed another laser. But Reliant’s offering has since garnered healthy sales and spurred competition: At least 10 other companies now market fractional lasers to dermatologists and plastic surgeons (see table).

Reliant’s flagship, the Fraxel re:store, uses a 30 W, 1550 nm erbium-fiber laser in conjunction with a fractional scanner to achieve precise resurfacing and remodeling while minimizing collateral damage. Reliant subsequently launched a 1410 nm model, followed in July 2007 by a 1.60 micrometer version, the Fraxel re:pair, which is designed to treat fine lines, pigmentation, and elasticity with a combination of conventional CO2 resurfacing and nonablative fractional photothermolysis.

According to Christopher Zachary, chair of the Department of Dermatology, University of California at Irvine, who has worked with many fractional lasers, the Fraxel re:pair “is going to sell itself because it produces significant tissue tightening, wrinkle reduction, and textural improvement both on and off the face, and you see results after one treatment.”

On the down side, patients have longer recovery times compared to nonablative erbium-laser “lunchtime” treatments—but fewer treatments are needed, which means the cost is ultimately about the same (with Fraxel re:pair a typical session is $3000 - $5000; with Fraxel re:store each session is $1500, and 4–6 treatments are needed). Plus, the system cuts session time, enabling treatment of an entire face in 20 minutes.

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Reliant is not the only company addressing this area, but it has a leg up in terms of well-documented success. The company conducts its own long-term histology studies and has an on-site clinic that treats patients daily.

Lasering offers “microspot” benefits

One of Reliant’s competitors is Lasering USA (San Ramon, CA), whose MiXto SX 10.6-micron CO2 system uses “microspot” technology combined with a high-speed scanner to deliver 0.3 mm spots in continuous wave mode. According to the company—a joint venture between Lasering (Modena, Italy) and Transamerican Technologies International (TTI), a medical laser company—other CO2 fractional lasers deliver larger (1.3 mm) spots in super pulse mode with random distribution, which requires anesthesia or tissue cooling. As described by Lasering, the MiXto’s micro-spot matrix, driven by a proprietary scanning algorithm, increases the interval between adjacent spots, minimizing heat accumulation around the treated area and, thus, pain during the procedure. In addition, the lower level of thermal burn permits quicker recovery. According to Kelli Young, Lasering’s VP of marketing, a full treatment of the face takes about 30 minutes and requires little to no anesthesia.

The MiXto sells for about $70,000, compared to $90,000-$100,000 for competing CO2 systems. In addition to general aesthetic treatments, the company is focusing on three patient groups: those with acne scarring, sun damage, and skin cancer lesions.

—Kathy Kincade

Note: Optoelectronics Report’s sister publication BioOptics World reports on fractional laser technologies continually; see future issues for details on other systems and technologies.

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