Emerging markets.

That's the buzz phrase at the 28th American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS) meeting in central Florida, which began in earnest on Wednesday, April 2, and runs through Saturday, April 5.

The laser companies at this year's meeting realize that the market for laser products has to grow beyond plastic surgeons and dermatologists. Medical spas, OB-GYNs, and even family practices are going to be the targets of the next sales push for laser products. The home-care maintenance customer is also an untapped market that is in their sights.

Will Reliant, Lutronic, Alma, etc., try to push their high-end products into these new markets? Not likely. The more likely direction will be for these firms to diversify their product offerings. In addition to the current lines of high-end laser products that appeal to the cosmetic surgeon in the OR, look for "light" versions of these products for the medi-spa market; and lower energy, handheld products for the household.

Lutronic claims that it is close to FDA approval for its Mosaic fractional CO2 laser system. The Mosaic eCO2 demo system I saw on the show floor has a narrow footprint, a handpiece with adjustable scanning controls, and a touch-screen-based user interface that can be set to "auto" or manual, with a wide range of settings. Users can select between a continuous pulsed delivery operation mode, a randomized (or sequential) beam patterns, as well as focused or defocused tip type.

There is talk of a Mosaic 1440 nm product coming soon. More on that later.

Over at the MedSurge Advances booth, check out the Osyris-manufactured 980 nm diode laser system for localized fat reduction and skin tightening. The unit, currently called the Pharaon 980, is also being called the LipoFirm in today's mainstream news media. What's in a name? It is a new semi-conductor (diode) laser system designed to treat vascular conditions and uses an auto-regulated contact cooling system. This unit does not have the "trash compactor" look of most laser systems; instead, it resembles an Apple Macintosh portable computer, with a colorful touchscreen interface and smart cards that allow the user to switch among applications: lipolysis, blue leg veins, and endovenous treatments. Cost: approximately $80K, a bit under the $100K-plus price tags of most laser systems. I believe this is the same system as the Pharaon Exo, demo'd at the AAD show a few months ago. MedSurge reps assure me that the unit will go through another name change and is due to receive FDA clearance "in a matter of days."

The ASLMS meeting is a fairly cozy trade show/conference occupying one corner of the enormous hotel and resort, Gaylord Palms, located in the shadow of Walt Disney World in Kissimmee, Fla. The accommodations are luxurious, the venue is cavernous, and the cost is high (food and transportation are especially overpriced). The real attractions here are the break-out sessions, which highlight new and exciting technologies and techniques that are being pioneered by the top scientists and physicians.