In general, we try to keep it positive when it comes to discussing competing lasers on the market but we get a lot of calls asking how our lasers compare to $500 and other unbelievably cheap lasers that are advertised on the web. This article is about some of the more questionable lasers that you can find on the web. Professional quality lasers are expensive so there are people have entered the market to try and make a quick buck. After years in the business, we have found that the cheap or "too good to be true" lasers can be grouped into 4 categories.
- Over-priced laser pointers
- Illegal products
- Bold face lies
- Questionable science
In the US, the FDA regulates medical devices that are used to treat health problems. When it comes to lasers, over-the-counter lasers that do not require a doctors recommendation are limited to 5 mW. It is illegal to sell a product that is not FDA cleared for use on humans with a power more than 5mW (with a few legal exceptions). 5 mW is the max power of an standard laser pointer. Some companies claim that this is enough power and that they get similar results to professional therapy lasers but the truth is in the numbers. A 5 mW will put out a total of 432 joules in 24 hours. This is the same dosage that a class 4 laser puts out in 30 seconds and an average class 3b laser does in 10 minutes. This is actually less energy in the IR spectrum (700nm to 1000nm) than you would get sitting in the sun. The sun delivers about 33mW/cm2 in the IR spectrum so don't waste your money on a 5mW product, just put on some UVa and UVb sunscreen and sit in the sun.
So what about the more power lasers on ebay and for sale from guys like the "energy healer". These laser make health claim but are not FDA cleared. It is pretty clear cut, these product are illegal and the people selling them are considered "smugglers". The penalty for what they are doing can be 5 to 30 years in jail. The FDA has put other questionable laser sellers in jail but the FDA is pretty busy so it might take time before they lock up these sellers. The question is "can you really trust the specs and claims from someone who is blatantly breaking the law and how will they service your laser or warn you if you product is unsafe when jail time doesn't even scare them".
Currently, much of the legal liability for the use or misuse of laser is associated with the company that holds the FDA clearance for the laser. So, if a doctor is using an illegal product and get sued by a patient (claiming they were hurt by the laser), the doctor will be forced to take 100% of the liability in the courts. They will not be able to say that the laser was approved by the FDA as safe (when used according to the manufacturer's recommendations). The penalty for buying an illegal product could be losing your license, your practice and several million dollars. Often times, these law suits are total nonsense and they are easily dismissed if you are using an FDA approved product according to the manufacturer's recommendations but it might be hard defend your practice if you are using an illegal product. Some malpractice insurance companies will not cover the use of illegal products in a practice so if you are sued, 100% of the cost of defending your practice could be out of pocket.
Bold Face Lies
What about the laser sales websites that claim they sell FDA cleared laser at half the price of typical lasers. The price is just too good to be true. I don't know a nicer way to say that these groups are bold-face lairs. In some cases, the FDA clearance is for cosmetic or surgical use and in some case, they just took the FDA 501c documents from a real laser company and send them out to people even though they are not selling that product or even associated with that product. Once again, this is the kind of blatant abuse that the FDA really hates so it is just a matter of time before they are prosecuted and there is not longer any support for the laser.
Once again, much of the legal liability for the use or misuse of laser is associated with the company that holds the FDA clearance that proved the system was effective and safe. So if a doctor is using a non-FDA cleared product and gets sued by a patient (claiming they were hurt by the laser), they have no clearance paperwork to pass the liability through to the manufacturer so they will take the full liability. Often times, these law suits are total nonsense and they are easily dismissed if you are using an FDA approved product according to the manufacturer's recommendations but it might be hard defend your practice if you are using an illegal product.
There are several different companies that distinguish their product using questionable science. There is a competitor that advertises using Google Ads that is a prime example. They have review site is a blog that says that most "cold lasers" are scams and the ZPE is the best product on the market. They advertise their own brand of "cold lasers" in the price range from $600 to $3,200. I found this puzzling since I own a product that looks almost identical to the ZPE. Here is a picture of a laser pointer that I purchased at a convenience store for less than $10 in 1990.
Here is a screen capture from Ebay showing a zero point energy cold lasers selling for 1 penny.
This same product is sold as a therapeutic cold laser for $695.
Here is another scam. Stickers that make lasers more powerful. I hope that I don't even need to go into any details why this is a total scam. If you believe in magic and really need a stick, I will send some of my kids stickers for free. The will boost the laser performance as much as any stick you can buy for laser enhancement.
Information Encoded Lasers
I have been approached by several people to sell their "encoded" lasers. These product have some mystical property where information is added to the laser beam in a product that looks like a super cheap laser pointer with shiny paint. Without any microprocessor, these products claim to add information into the laser beam to send it into your body. The principal is used in digital communications but requires a microprocessor on both ends to encode and decode the information. This concept might have some validity but it would take some serious engineering to figure it out. If you have that kind of resources, I don't think you should put it into a device that looks like a laser point. Of coarse, that little extra theory increases the cost the device from around $10 to $500 or more. Please do your own research before purchasing any products.
Hyper-Marketing Words for Over-valued products
Here are some other words like zero point energy that are used to market lasers that have real no meaning. They are purely used to make the lasers sound like it is something special and they typically has no scientific basis.
- Multiscan Laser
- Photon Laser
- Pulsar Plus Laser
- Scalar Wave
- Quantum Wave
In general, there is a inverse relationship between a solid technical product and over-hyped marketing. The greater the hype, the lesser the product. Manufacturer that don't use hyper-marketing to describe their products rely on quality, support, specs and reputation to sell their products and not trickery.
Don't just take it from us, Read and article by Turner and Hodes, two of the most published doctors on the cutting edge of laser therapy and leaders of the WALT and Swedish Laser Medical Society . Here is their take on some of the marketing for some products. http://www.laser.nu/lllt/pdf/Confounders.pdf
At ColdLasers.Org, we only sell well-established legal products. We sell systems based on concrete factors and specs like wavelengths, power levels, pulsing frequencies and protocol support. We stay away from the hyper-marketing as much as possible. All our products are FDA cleared except for the laser that say animal use only. When you are comparing products, make sure you understand the specs and how they affect the performance before you buy anything and be on the lookout for illegal, hyper-marketed and underpowered systems.