The first thing to know is : there are (still) some old myths. Contrary to what some people continue to say, today’s medical profession is quite different from what it was even 10 years ago.
a) Medicine is probably an art, but it’s certainly a science. Most of all it’s a service provided to others. In cosmetic medicine, it’s a highly sophisticated service rendered to people who are expecting to look better. In no event do they want to look worse.
b) Medical doctors are not perfect, they are no robots, and since they are human beings, they can fail, like everybody else. So be on the look out for their attitude and demeanor. They can tell a lot toward their assertiveness and competency. Do they know what they are talking about?
c) Some laser technicians are totally incompetent and could even damage your skin. Make sure that a laser physician sets up the laser and starts your session after controlling that all aspects of your treatments are fine. It’s great to be in a Laser center where the same physician who saw you during the initial free consultation treats you.
d) Can you afford a non covered treatment that could have a poor outcome ?
Good, after this little appetizer section let’s get into the heart of your laser center selection process.
Criteria # 1 : do your homework !
By telephone or over the internet (yes, compare the websites and look at the quality and the quantity of the information presented. Is it technical, comprehensive, detailed and useful for you?) These sites reflect the provider’s customer approach, the capacity and willingness to listen, to inform and be transparent about services and prices. It is also a good way to evaluate the team’s ability to take the time to explain the procedure to you. The more you get, the more reassuring it is. Many centers provide irrelevant information about themselves; they are satisfied with a general overview and the history of their center and so on. There is not much in terms of specifics about laser hair removal, hair cycle, laser operation, lasers used, team structure, procedures and prices. Opacity or marketing gloss is one clue to the little care you’ll be entitled to ; You’ll just be a walking wallet… not a client. Word of mouth is good, but analyzing the spread and depth of the information provided by a center over their website is better. Did they take the time to really tell everything about the procedure or the technique? Was it practical?
What to ask? :
- Brand(s) and type(s) of laser(s) used. How many lasers do they have?
- How long have they been using them?
- Is laser medicine the primary purpose of that center?
- Number of patients treated there?
- Doctor in charge (medical director or manager), how often is he/she there?
- Is the first consultation/visit free or not?
Criteria # 2 :
-Go there, take an appointment (if it’s free, it’s no risk), get the information first hand, see everything with your own eyes, check these people out !
- Ask who will your laser physician be. Insist on the principle that he/she who sees you during the initial consultation, performs your future treatments.
- Have your test done by your designated laser physician.
- Ask your laser physician about his/her qualifications (Laser Medicine degrees, Cosmetic Medicine degrees, post doctoral laser training, laser medicine convention activities.). The laser training provided by the laser equipment manufacturer is way under par and significantly less than adequate. Unfortunately, too many people go by with this low level training. There are essentially two sources of laser degrees:
Pan European Diploma from Poitiers University – School of Medicine Post Doctoral Degree in: “Lasers in dermatology, angeiology and cosmetic Medicine”
University Hospital Post Doctoral Degree in Medical Lasers
-Ask that you be described risks, side effects and precautions during your initial free consultation. (If this has not been done by your laser physician without asking!)
Criteria # 3 : Once there, during your initial free visit, please check :
- Center cleanliness, organization, sophisticated (not in an office in the back or in a basement) environment, welcoming venue. Check that laser rooms are large, well ventilated, not closets smelling burnt hair.
- Medical and non-medical personnel attentiveness. Make sure you are well attended to, welcomed, taken care of and above all: professionally treated. If not, you are better off leaving and checking another center out. You’re worth it!
- Your questions are welcomed and properly answered.
- You get a test. Have it done on a hidden area (underarms for example) in case your skin stays red a couple of days. Ask if the test is free or not.
- You get a prescription for EMLA cream or get access to any anesthetic cream your center uses. Our centers could even provide you with that cream at an additional cost (usually $6-8 per tube) to make your life easier.
- You get an estimate cost per session and a range of sessions needed to achieve hair removal on your desired area. Make sure you get a multi-zone package price if you are treating more than one area (check the price list on the internet site). If that center doesn’t have a price list over the net, it’s because prices fluctuate from one patient to the next !
Criteria #4 : Dare to ask :
- How many sessions your treatment is going to last (+ 1 or 2 additional needed)?
- How long will each session last?
- How many maintenance sessions will be needed on an annual basis?
- The center opening hours. It’s best to use a center that opens late in the evening and on Saturdays?
- What is the center’s policy about missed appointments?
- How many weeks between each session?
- How is the hair going to fall or is it growing back?
- A list of side effects (unless it’s included in your estimate/consent form).
Criteria #5 : Make sure :
- An estimate/consent form was handed over to you,
- You read what you sign,
- You wear eye protections during the test or your treatment (special eyeglasses),
- Your center has multiple payment options: credit card, check, cash, financing.
- Your center has Professional Liability Insurance for its employees.
And like everywhere :
if your first impression is good, it probably will be a lasting impression.