Friday, February 19, 2016

Should you sign up for that laser package?

In recent years, a novelty has jumped onto the bandwagon of hyper-consumerism. I am referring to the phenomenon of laser packages.

Clinics offering low-price, express laser treatments have become a common sight.

Creative marketing has also coaxed potential customers into thinking that laser treatments on a frequent basis (daily, or even several times a day) are not only necessary but also highly desirable. Customers are encouraged to sign up for laser packages, even if they do not have any skin problem at all.

This is a disturbing trend.

Patient or consumer? Laser, as a licensed medical device, has been used to address and treat specific skin problems in patients. Each treatment has its accompanying benefits and risks. While the patient receives treatment which is specific to his or her need, the consumer, on the other hand, buys a product, often on impulse. The consumer would not have any more information of the product than what they have heard from advertising campaigns or social media. The consumer may not really need the product or service, but wants it anyway. The consumer cannot fully comprehend the effect that rampant laser treatments would have on the skin.

Encouraging over-consumption. A favourite marketplace gimmick is the sale of packages. A lump sum of money is paid upfront for a pre-determined number of treatment sessions. And since the person buying is not a patient but a consumer, the cost of the package would largely depend on the size of his pocket. Economies of scale is used to sweeten the deal for the customer: the more you buy, the cheaper per treatment it becomes. In the end, the consumer parts with a month's pay on that package. A package that the consumer does not really need, and is unlikely to completely utilize.

Laser abuse. The truth is, more is NOT merrier. Daily laser treatments are excessive, dangerous, and of questionable benefit. Dermatologists do not recommend it. Instead interval of 4 to 6 weeks is routinely advised for safety. Post-laser skin is allowed to heal, and sufficient time to lapse for assessment of treatment outcome. As a medical treatment device, laser exerts profound effects on the skin, even at sub-therapeutic doses. A well-documented complication arising from abuse of laser treatment is skin tone discolouration, uneven pigmentation and subsequent appearance of white patches on the face.

So, before you commit to that laser package, ask yourself, " Do I really need it?"