By Ruth Nicholson, NZ Laser Training Ltd
When you take your car for a warrant of fitness (WoF) you would know that the technician is suitably qualified and has the relevant experience to do required safety and running checks ensuring your vehicle is safe for you to continue to drive; and that it is fit for the road. Our intense pulsed light (IPL) machines are not too dissimilar in that way; they also require electrical safety checks so as to meet Australian / New Zealand (AS/NZS) safety standards, and should have their energy output reading measured against manufacturers specifications to ensure that what you are delivering to the client’s skin is within safe limits but is also effective.
Most IPL machines come with a standard warranty of 12 months. Within this warranty period the supplier of the machine usually provides one standard service which would cover a warrant of fitness type check-up on such things as: the water pump, flash lamp, power supply and cooling systems are checked, cleaned and operating correctly. It should also include a power (watts / joules) test.
Using incorrect water in your IPL machine can cause a build-up of mineral deposits and even algae to accumulate in the main lines which can lead to issues on other main components such as the flash lamp itself depending on the configuration used. Your service technician should be knowledgeable enough to advise you correctly on this. Some IPL machines can get away with using demineralised water which is available through a supermarket, however some may need to stick to deionised water, which is water that has the ions removed. Normal household filtered tap water is usually full of ions from the soil (Na+, Ca2+), from the pipes (Fe2+, Cu2+), and other sources. Water is usually deionised by using an ion exchange process. Using the correct water in your IPL machine means that you will cause less corrosion.
Your annual service or WoF on your IPL machine should also include a calibration check, this should be done with the correct testing equipment. An electrical safety check should also be carried out, to ensure no leaking amperage, reducing the chance of electric shock. The handpiece should be checked for cracks and wear and tear as these do get a high degree of daily use and can start to break down, or develop fine fissures in the crystal or quartz treatment head, clinics should also be asking their supplier about the availability of replacement parts for components such as, but not limited to: flash lamps, water pumps, and capacitors.
Repair or replace
Many imported machines are designed more as throw away equipment, meaning that after about two to three years of use it is more economical to replace the entire machine than try and source the parts to repair them. Before buying an IPL machine (second-hand or new), clinics should be asking more in depth questions about who will be servicing the machine and what are their qualifications and relevant testing experience on IPL and lasers to carry out the work.
Once a service technician has done the work on your IPL machine a full service report should be issued. This should show exactly what has been done, for example: tested output and calibrated showing any variances and stating whether that is within normal operating limits or not.
NZ Laser Training would strongly recommend not using a simple test and tag safety technician to service your IPL machine as this test is just that: an electrical safety check. This check does not imply anything was checked relating to the efficiency of your IPL machine.
Your service technician should be using a power meter which measures the watts or Joules output and a special detector to receive the IPL or Laser pulse which sends the output reading back to the power meter. Test equipment like this is not cheap but is required to do a full and thorough output check of an IPL or laser machine.
The test equipment itself should also be calibrated to ensure it produces an accurate reading and that it meets international standards. IPL machines and Lasers are highly technical in both the way they work and also how they produce the light energy we use, dealing with the right experts is essential to ensuring both client safety and optimal results. υ