Planning Ahead For Equipment Failures

It's inevitable. At some point your cosmetic laser or IPL will go on the fritz. Then what?

About half of the people I speak to every day are medical spa owners. The nature of my job pretty much implies that most people calling me are in some type of situation they would consider an emergency. Most have just one cosmetic laser or IPL, a schedule full of customers, and no time. A week of searching for a repair company or technician can put a medical spa in a very bad situation. Unexpected service expenses are not so... they should be expected, but they are ignored.

How does one prepare for such unforeseen expenses as the need for a laser cavity rebuild, a power supply repair, or laser rod resurface- all repairs that can result in at least a week of downtime? This problem can best be remedied at the time of purchase, but most of you are far beyond this point. There are few options, but there are options.

The very best option in contingency planning for unexpected repairs is to warranty your devices. This is best done when purchasing your new or used laser- new lasers should come with a minimum 12 month warranty, and you should never purchase a used laser from a company that cannot offer at least a 6 month warranty after purchase. Many dealers and third party service companies now offer warranties on a wide variety of laser makes and models, but to know who offers what you may have to ask around. Some of these third party warranties offer more for the money than the original equipment manufacturer warranty, but come with the caveat that there are parts that may not be readily available at all times.

Another option to consider, even if you have a warranty, is a backup unit or rental. If you can only afford one laser, teaming up with local colleagues is one way to alleviate this problem. If you have a Cutera Xeo, for example, you can seek out colleagues in your area who also use the Cutera Xeo and together purchase a standby unit that is only used in case of emergencies. You might also ask your warranty company if they are capable of providing loaner units while yours is in repair.

The third option to consider is leasing your unit. Under a lease, you are not directly responsible for all the maintenance. In case of emergency, the leasing company should be able to provide a loaner or temporary unit. I am not referring to a lease as in taking out a loan from a bank to pay for what will be your laser- I mean leasing the laser from an owner who will handle all the maintenance should anything go wrong. These kinds of arrangements do include clauses where you may be responsible for negligence, equipment abuse, and misuse, but most lasers fail because of normal wear and tear.

Of course, none of these options will alleviate every emergency situation. The best course of action may be a combination of these options, or all three. Even though there is no catch all, HAVING a plan, or at least being aware of the possibility of an unforeseen expense is more than ignoring the possibility in it's entirety.

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Identifying Third Party Companies Who Can Repair Your Used Medical Laser BEFORE You Buy

Before you buy a used medical laser, it is critical that you identify third party companies who can repair it. You can’t always rely on the manufacturer to support your used laser. As was already mentioned, manufacturers will often turn their back on any doctor who has not purchased a new laser directly from them.

It is important that you find out from your broker who they use to repair the lasers they are selling you. You need to ask them which laser repair companies are “the best” third party repair companies. You want to get names and phone numbers of specific people who have experience repairing the lasers you wish to purchase.

After 90 days of warranty from the broker who sold you the laser, you will be “on your own” and you need to make sure you can continue to get the support you need for your used laser. You need to conduct your own independent research on the internet (I prefer using Google) to find out the following information from third party repair companies:

1. Identify at least 3 or 4 companies who specialize in repairing the used laser you wish to purchase
2. Ask them to provide you with at least 5 or 6 references of people they have recently serviced
3. Find out whether they have laser repair techs who have been Manufacturer-Certified to work on your used laser
4. Find out if they can obtain parts for your laser. Many manufacturers make it very hard for anyone outside their network to obtain parts such as laser fibers and dye kits. Don’t forget that laser and IPL parts are typically unique to one particular device. Some laser companies won’t even warranty the laser for you if it is not purchased directly from them.
5. Find out whether they have the diagnostic software from the manufacturer to trouble shoot problems with the device
6. Ask them to tell you the most common repairs the device needs and a ball park cost to repair the most common problems
7. Whether the company can offer you a third party extended warranty on the laser, how much it costs, and what all it covers.

You need to do this footwork BEFORE you buy. After you buy it can be too late and you may be taking too large of a risk.


Vin Wells

Vin Wells, MHSA,  is the President and Founder of and has over 11 years experience in the aesthetic laser industry. Mr. Wells started his own chain of aesthetic clinics under the brand name Skinovative and opened his first medical spa in Boise, Idaho in February 2001. Mr. Wells continued to grow and operate aesthetic clinics for over 8 years.  Since 2008, Mr. Wells has focused on selling used aesthetic equipment to physicians and medical spas.

Mr. Wells received a masters degree in Health Services Administration from Arizona State University (1995) and has extensive practice management experience, working with a number of different hospital and outpatient care systems.

Mr. Wells has developed a number of business operations systems that help aesthetic clinics to maximize their profitability, including: Aesthetic Consultation Training, Medspa Management Training, Medspa Business Plans, Medspa Operations Manuals, and Front Desk Operations Training.  These products can be found at:

Mr. Wells completed received his bachelors of Science degree at Brigham Young University in 1991 and continued his education at Arizona State University, in Tempe, Arizona, receiving a Masters in Health Services Administration in 1994.  He has worked for a number of different health care organizations including as a Program Director for group of primary care clinics (Arizona Association of Community Health Centers), a Health Care Manager for a hospital network group (Arizona Healthcare Federation), and as Associate Director for the Arizona Council for Graduate Medical Education.

Mr. Wells has devoted considerable time in research the latest cosmetic trends and treatment modalities. He stays current on the cutting edge of such research and uses this information to make strategic decisions for the company.  He has a broad understanding of lasers and has been certified in laser biophysics and theory.

Mr. Wells was successful in developing a Laser Certification Program that was approved by the Arizona Radiation Regulatory Agency, the agency that oversees the use of medical lasers in Arizona. The program involves 40 hours of laser didactic curriculum as well as hands-on laser training.