Medical lasers are a multibillion-dollar global industry. Lasers are used in a wide range of medical applications, from cosmetic procedures to diagnosis and therapy.
The global recession of 2008 and 2009 had a significant negative impact on the market for medical lasers. Much of the demand for medical lasers comes from elective procedures such as laser-assisted eye surgery, which many consumers postponed as they tightened their belts in response to the recession.
Somewhat paradoxically, the market for lasers used in certain minimally invasive cosmetic surgical procedures (e.g., hair restoration, photo-rejuvenation with intense pulsed light, and laser body contouring) held up relatively well in the recession. Meanwhile, the market for lasers used in surgical applications that cannot wait until the economy turns around remained comparatively strong.
The longer-term outlook for the medical laser market is much better. Indeed, demand may experience a “bump” as the economy improves and consumers who have postponed elective laser procedures during the recession decide to have them.
Another force for possible change in the medical laser market is the new U.S. health care law that was enacted in 2010. The law imposed a 5% excise tax on elective cosmetic surgical procedures. When it does go into effect, this tax could reduce the demand for such procedures and by extension the market for medical lasers used in cosmetic procedures.
Meanwhile, medical laser technology is continuing to evolve. New laser sources with potential medical applications include fiber lasers, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and organic LEDs (OLEDs). Plastic foils as surface emitters could become important as an irradiation source in photo-dynamic therapy (PDT). In addition to new laser sources, the development of new applicators and tool holders will continue to widen the range of applications for existing types of lasers. Finally, the spread of new laser applications such as nanosurgery, OCT, and sophisticated fluorescence microscopy will stimulate the growth of the medical laser market.
Global Markets and Technologies for Medical Lasers: Focus on Europe
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