Sciton is a Silicon Valley-Based Laser Company that proudly celebrated a big anniversary last year. 2017 marks the 20th year for this innovative powerhouse and their team of award winning physicists and engineers. Over the last two decades Sciton has established a well-earned reputation for creating skin technology that has steadily built a very loyal customer base thrilled with the company’s focus on science and achieving results that matter.
Sciton, Inc., situated in Palo Alto, is a privately owned medical device company established in 1997 by cofounders Jim Hobart, Ph.D., and Daniel Negus, Ph.D., who met while they were working at Coherent. As Dr Negus explained, "Our mission from the very beginning was to provide advanced laser and light sources to medical professionals worldwide that are technical and performance leaders, offering unparalleled results and consistent reproducibility." They also set out to give physicians the highest possible value in terms of reliability and durability, and solve real problems to improve the human condition. Sciton’s raison d’etre is actually pretty simple. As Dr Hobart says, "Dan and I formed a company to make things to sell that would delight physicians and patients.”
That fundamental commitment to their customers' success has not been limited to the performance of their systems either. Sciton also enjoys a reputation for offering comprehensive clinical training and practice marketing programs to provide practitioners with the building blocks they need to be successful and enhance their bottom line. They have broken through the hype that often characterizes the cosmetic laser industry to set up Sciton as a science-driven and customer centric company that can and always will put customers' needs first. Today, Sciton’s legacy centers around their passion for skin and advancing best in class skin revitalization technologies that stand the test of time and do not artificially degrade through planned obsolescence. This commitment has set the company up to thrive in a modern era of big pharma consolidation where innovation and customer focused need take a back seat to Wall Street profit-first mentality.
Men on a mission
Today Sciton operates worldwide in more than 45 countries and has launched 26 major innovations since their inception, but the culture of Sciton hasn’t really changed that much in two decades although the industry surely has. The science of how lasers and light interact with tissue is generally where the Sciton scientists and engineers start, as opposed to what sometimes is a more market-driven opportunity lacking rigorous underpinning.
"For example, we’ve seen the tremendous growth in non-invasive body contouring, so we considered whether we should enter this market. Our approach is never going to be that we have something, we’re not sure it works, but let’s get it out there and make some money," says Hobart.
In fact, he admits that it can slow down their growth by taking the time to make sure it works instead of putting something on the market just because it’s hot and everyone is clamoring for it, without making sure it’s based on real science and will produce consistent results that physicians (and patients) will love.
"We would rather spend the time to get it 100% right so customers are thrilled or decide we don’t have a product worth launching yet," he says.
A ton of science without the hype
Lacee Naik, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, explains the guiding principle behind everything they do. "Like Apple, HP, and other iconic Silicon Valley brands, Sciton has stayed true to its original brand promise for two decades and counting. Everything they do is based on the motto “Because Results Matter”. Even the name Sciton is derived from the phrase, “science of photons”.
"I wasn’t keenly aware of shiny new toys because when I was CEO of Coherent, the products kind of sold themselves. The scientists could figure out which was a superior product. But in aesthetic medicine, it’s often all about hype and quasi-science," Dr Hobart says.
He often looks at other technologies and is appalled, in his words. "It’s almost like physicians are being duped by all the buzz and hype. When it gets down to it, they often feel like they’ve been oversold. The shiny new toy they just bought doesn’t really have the guts inside to perform as they were led to believe it would."
“Our handbook says “do the right thing,” and that’s the basis for what every employee at Sciton does," says Dr Negus.
“We believe that we build products that physicians will buy and feel good about. Our products are reputable and long-lasting, and deliver the results that patients deserve and want and that they are willing to pay for," says Dr Hobart. "At a recent meeting, a physician commented to us that while all their other lasers seemed to always break down, their Sciton has continued to chug along for many years. We see that as providing value to our physicians.
In a crowded device market with so many new brands and companies entering rapidly, Sciton’s unique value proposition for doctors stands out. According to Boca Raton plastic surgeon Jason Pozner, MD, "You can buy cheaper but you can’t buy a better quality, long-term device for your practice. My OR Sciton laser was built in 2001 and has been upgraded a few times, but you can’t name one other technology with a better return on investment. Sciton builds smart products for smart doctors and staff. Their devices can be used by beginners and pros, and there is the ability to grow into your system and upgrade as new things come out.”
The Joule in the crown
Their flagship JOULE™ system exemplifies the Sciton approach to producing high-quality, expandable platforms that can perform a range of non-invasive and minimally invasive procedures that doctors want. The JOULE platform allows physicians to customize their own system with one or more applications at a time, in a single system. This costeffective and expandable approach allows them to configure each system to offer the greatest financial return for the best possible value. As a result of this mantra, Sciton’s systems are widely considered by many laser surgeons to be the gold standard in the industry.
According to Dallas plastic surgeon A. Jay Burns, MD, "I saw the theoretical advantage of Erbium early on, but when Jim Hobart and Dan Negus developed the Sciton product, I expected it would be the best. They demand excellence and that is exactly what they delivered. I have never been disappointed. While I’ve tried erbium lasers from other manufacturers, the Sciton system is the one I prefer and I would never go back to using CO2 after using Erbium."
Dr Burns purchased his Sciton tunable Erbium in 2001 and it is still in service today. "The Sciton JOULE platform is the gold standard of laser platforms in my opinion. Every device they have added over the years, the BBL, Erbium Resurfacing, Erbium ProFractional, diVa, Nd:YAG and Halo, is individually the best device I have used in each space. Therefore, when these devices are offered all in one platform, it is just an incredible collection of tools for the laser enthusiast," he says.
Dr Burns is certainly not alone in his admiration for the Sciton founders" commitment to quality and his enthusiasm for the JOULE system. Sacramento dermatologist Suzanne Kilmer, MD, has known Jim Hobart since he was at Coherent when she was doing the original CO2 resurfacing study.
"He started Sciton shortly after that to create an alternative resurfacing device utilizing the Erbium laser. The genius of their Erbium laser was that you could choose exactly how much ablation and how much coagulation to deliver in each pulse. I use the Sciton Erbium all the time for fully ablative resurfacing of lip lines, syringomas, and acne scars. I think of it as the ultimate skin drill!" she says. "Sciton has always had high integrity and they really value scientific data. They are smart people led by the super-smart Jim Hobart and Dan Negus," adds Dr Kilmer.
The Joule platform was built to last and is the workhorse for many laser surgeons due to its versatility and efficacy. According to Denver Dermatologist Joel Cohen, MD, "I have had my Erbium resurfacing Joule with BBL since 2007, and I still use it every day. I have learned how to use it even more effectively over the years, recognizing endpoints and building on my experience. I truly believe there is no better device to treat significant perioral and periocular wrinkles than Sciton full-field Erbium, and BBL continues to be a very reliable way to treat lentigines.”
As kinder, gentler energy based systems m a y come and go, there continues to be a role for state-of-theart resurfacing lasers to achieve optimal skin revitalization outcomes. New York City dermatologist and laser surgeon Roy Geronemus, MD, explains, "With resurfacing lasers, there is always a need to strike a balance between going deep enough to achieve the desired outcome and the patient’s acceptance of downtime. The Sciton resurfacing laser is a very versatile system that allows you to ablate as deep or as shallow as needed, with or without coagulation. We have been very impressed with the precision and control this technology allows the user to have, and the results."
The beauty of BBL
Another major Sciton innovation, Broadband Light BBL™ has redefined multi-plexing technology. It is widely considered to be the most versatile broadband light system in its class. With a single handpiece, interchangeable filters, adjustable cooling, and a large spot size, BBL is an all-inclusive system that treats acne and vascular conditions, corrects pigmented lesions, permanently removes hair and improves the appearance of sagging skin.
“Sciton BBL is my most popular choice for facial and non-facial skin rejuvenation because it’s fast, cost-effective, and efficacious. It is really a win, win, win!" says Los Gatos, CA dermatologist Patrick Bitter, Jr., MD, who created the FotoFacial® branded treatment.
“In my practice, BBL sets new standards for treating a wide range of skin conditions associated with aging and sun damage. Its broad range of wavelengths allows us to treat pigmentation, redness, and acne without the need for additional handpieces," added Mark Schwartz, MD, FACS, a New York City plastic surgeon. "BBL has been an excellent investment, and I often combine it with Halo for advanced benefits in severely photoaged skin.”
BBL is also the first and only pulsed light system in the industry to offer a full suite of branded and consumer ready treatment options for the aesthetic practitioner to seamlessly incorporate into their practice and market for instant gains. Led by ForeverYoung BBL, the BBL family of brands now includes, ForeverBare BBL painfree hair removal, SkinTyte II for bulk dermal heating without consumables, and newly launched ForeverClear BBL for the treatment of active acne.
"The BBL family of brands makes it much easier for cosmetic business owners to market and differentiate themselves from the sea of competitors that simply offer IPL for treating "reds and browns’. Our branded approach to otherwise commodity treatments helps our customers position their treatments at a premium price point, while providing all of the point of sale tools necessary to earn the confidence of today’s selective cosmetic patients," says Ms Naik.
Halo: the world’s first hybrid laser
The evolution of Halo, the world’s first hybrid fractional laser, was a happy accident. The best products usually are, like BOTOX® (Allergan Plc), Latisse® (Allergan Plc), and Post-It®’s (3M).
"Erbium doesn’t produce a deep thermal necrosis-like carbon dioxide does. In a fractional form, it creates a lot more bleeding. We realized that you could use one wavelength to drill a hole and then fire a second wavelength into that hole to coagulate the blood underneath. But then we noticed that it removed discoloration," says Dr Hobart. And that was how Halo was born.
Halo offers a basic mode with three simple preprogrammed levels for minimal downtime. The operator chooses one of the three coverage levels, and Halo calculates the exact amount of energy necessary to complete a safe and effective treatment, which makes it very delegatable to physician extenders. Patients love the results and the angelic glow that it gives their skin, which is why Sciton named their breakthrough treatment Halo. Halo delivers consistent results along with a positive patient experience without the extended downtime of other treatments. This accounts for why the Halo brand is leading the way for advanced skin revitalization that patients are asking for by name.
According to Vice President of Aesthetic Sales, Robb Brindley, "When you consider cosmetic benefit vs. downtime, Halo has truly changed the game for our customer’s and their ability to satisfy today’s cosmetic patient with an active lifestyle. Halo is like nothing we have ever seen at Sciton — our customers are ecstatic with the impact this new procedure has on their bottom line." Halo has emerged as a gem for the business minded practitioner and represents the highest net revenue procedure for facial skin revitalization in aesthetic medicine today."
Nashville dermatologist, Chris W. Robb, MD, PhD, first learned about Sciton from researching their reputation. "The regional Sciton manager was patient and came in and let us use their device. It met every single claim the company made. We are still using the same machine a decade later. No other laser company is as invested in your success. After the sale is made, the Sciton sales managers don’t vanish. I’ve seen so many reps from other companies disappear after a sale as if they know they got away with something. Sciton truly believes that if you are successful, Sciton is successful," he says.
He continues, "Halo is unique in that the hybridized wavelengths dramatically increase efficacy. The laser behaves like a non-ablative in terms of short downtime and safety, but the results can be dialled in to a patient’s needs so that they have very dramatic ablation-like results. It’s a very flexible device, perhaps the most flexible and advanced device on the market in the last eight years. Even after using the device for three years, I am routinely excited at the results we see. We just had a patient come in for two-year follow-up after one treatment and they still looked amazing. It’s fun to have a laser that patients are happy with and I don’t have to repeat treatments or justify taking their hard earned money. I use Halo as a workhorse. It helps dyschromia, fine lines and wrinkles, and stimulates hyaluronic acid, elastin and collagen on histology. It fits perfectly between BBL and full ablation.”
According to Dr Cohen, "In the past year, I have introduced HALO into my practice. My patients really appreciate the minimal downtime that typically correlates to a “sunburn” for about five days, while achieving noticeable improvement in mild lines, wrinkles, luminosity, pigmentation, and acne scars."
Dr Pozner adds that Halo has changed the paradigm, offering the best of both ablative and non-ablative wavelengths. "With Halo, I can achieve results which I would have only expected from an ablative fractional laser, but get downtimes that I would normally see with a non-ablative fractional laser. It really is the best of both worlds," he says.
Focus on women’s health
Sciton wasn’t the first medical device company to jump into the growth market for women’s health. On the contrary, they took their time and considered all of the options, in keeping with the Sciton philosophy. "I tell people that there’s the tortoise and the hare, and we’re sort of the tortoise. But we’ll win the race eventually," says Ms Naik.
In 2015, Sciton developed a separate business unit called the Women’s Health Group (WHG) demonstrating their commitment to this emerging category. "When we first encountered a competitive vaginal treatment device, we thought it was just another hoax. But we talked to several gynecologists and urogynecologists who were so enthusiastic about this treatment that we decided to build one and let some people try it and see if it works. We engineered the device several times until we started getting good feedback. We brought on Aaron Burton in the role of General Manager to concentrate on this business, hire a great team, and make important things happen," says Dr Hobart.
diVa utilizes the same Hybrid Fractional Laser (HFL) technology that was created for Halo. It provides tunable independent levels of ablation and coagulation, as well as varying levels of density, which allows the provider to customize the treatment based on the patient’s individual needs. diVa’s highly accurate motorized guidance system allows providers to deliver the treatment with increased consistency and decreased procedure time.
Johnny Peet, MD, ACOG, a gynecologist in Houston, and a long-time Sciton customer, was an early diVa user. "When I started looking into lasers in 2012, I asked two colleagues what the best laser on the market was and they both said Sciton without hesitation. So I met with the Sciton rep and I felt that he was honest and trustworthy and genuinely wanted me to succeed with my laser business. Over the next five years, I have come to see that the Sciton staff are quality people that I enjoy working with," he says.
Dr Peet worked on the development of the diVA laser with Sciton. "Our office performed the two clinical trials in 2015 that were used to develop the automated handpiece and the strengthened quartz dilator. We developed a vaginal laser that, when compared to the competition, can treat at over twice the depth, twice the density, and in half the time, three to five minutes. It is the only hybrid fractional vaginal laser and it is the only automated handpiece. No other vaginal laser has the versatility with regard to tunability of the settings. This allows us to treat every person individually and specifically," he says.
According to Nathan Guerette, MD, a urogynecologist in Richmond, Virginia, "I was an early adopter of energy based vaginal treatments and Sciton’s entry into women’s health has revolutionized how we can treat women suffering from these devastating and all too common conditions. The diVa laser allows for the most customized, precise, and automated treatment available in the world. This allows each individual woman to have her issues addressed in a unique and successful manner. Additionally, since diVa is part of the JOULE system, it can be performed with a host of other treatments, which is a significant advantage to both patients and practices as one unit can address multiple needs. Sciton’s approach is refreshing and unparalleled by other companies I’ve seen in the energy-based device arena. They are willing to go above and beyond for training and patient care and stand by their products.”
What’s next for Sciton?
Sciton realizes there is a tremendous opportunity for marketing their premium products internationally, and as part of this effort hired David Percival as General Manager for International to help identify key markets with strong growth opportunities around the world. "I’m very excited for the potential of Sciton’s business outside of North America" says Mr Percival. "I believe that over the next few years our business internationally will play a greater role in the growth of our company. We already have a strong base of key opinion leaders in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America."
On the product development side, Dr Hobart says, "We will continue to try a bunch of stuff and keep what works both in aesthetics as well as other medical fields. At the end of the day, we have to stay true to our core values. But it’s a business of course, so everything we do has to have a return on investment. But the way we calculate our ROI is somewhat unique in that we don’t just consider the benefits to the company. We look at the benefits to the physician, patients, and society as a whole. After all, isn’t that the right thing to do?"
Sciton is a Platinum Vendor Member for AmSpa, you can learn more about the JOULE™ system here.
Sciton will also be exhibitng at the upcoming AmSpa Boot Camp in Dallas, TX July 14-15. View the full agenda and exhibitor list here.