Medical Lasers: Technologies and Global Markets

Published - Jan 2010| Analyst - Andrew McWilliams| Code - HLC072A
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Report Highlights

  • Global market for medical lasers by end use was worth approximately $2.7 billion in 2008. This market declined to less than $2.3 billion in 2009 under the impact of the recession in many of the world’s major economies, it is projected to grow to nearly $4.8 billion between 2009 and 2014, at a CAGR of 16.1% over the 5-year period
  • Therapeutic laser applications market was nearly $2.3 billion in 2008; this further decreased to $1.9 billion in 2009, this is projected to reach $3.7 billion in 2014, for a 5-year CAGR of 13.3%.
  • Diagnostic application market was $330 million in 2008; this further decreased to $328 million in 2009, this is projected to reach $1.2 billion in 2014, for a 5-year CAGR of 28.9%.


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 that started in 2008 has 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 are postponing as they tighten 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) has held relatively well in the recession. Meanwhile, the market for lasers used in surgical applications that cannot wait until the economy turns around has remained comparatively strong. 
The longer-term outlook for the medical laser market is much better. Indeed, demand may experience a “bump” as the recession ends 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 healthcare restructuring legislation now being considered by the U.S. Congress. For example, one of the proposals for financing expanded health insurance coverage is a tax on cosmetic surgical procedures. If this proposal becomes law, it 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 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 laser. Finally, the spread of new laser applications such as nanosurgery, OCT, and sophisticated fluorescence microscopy will stimulate the growth of the medical laser market.
The market for medical lasers, in other words, is in a period of considerable flux. The overall goal of this study is to provide the reader with an understanding of the technological, economic, and regulatory forces that will influence the future size and structure of the market for medical lasers. Specific objectives include the following:
  • Identifying the medical laser technologies and applications with the greatest commercial potential in the near to mid-term (2008–2014)
  • Analyzing the key drivers and constraints that will shape the market for medical lasers over the next 5 years
  • Estimating the current and future demand for medical lasers through 2014
  • Ascertaining which companies are best positioned to meet this demand, because of proprietary technologies, strategic alliances or other advantages 
The report is intended especially for vendors of medical lasers, as well as government agencies, healthcare policy analysts, and others seeking to understand the medical applications of laser technologies. Although the report focuses on specific technologies, it is largely non-technical in nature. That is, it is concerned less with theory and jargon than with what works, how much of the latter the market is likely to purchase, and at what price. 
As such, the report’s main audience is executive management, marketing and financial analysts. It is not written specifically for scientists and technologists, although its findings concerned the market for their work, including the availability of government and corporate research funding for different technologies and applications should interest them as well
The report addresses the global market for lasers used in diagnostic, therapeutic, and cosmetic applications during the period from 2008 through 2014. It does not cover the market for lasers used in the fabrication of medical devices (e.g., in the creation of microscopic features and spot welds). The focus is on the market for lasers themselves, rather than the larger pieces of equipment that incorporate them.
The format of the study includes the following elements:
  • Summary
  • Definitions
  • Types of medical lasers and their main applications
  • End-user segments
  • Market environment (legal and regulatory, standards, trends in the healthcare industry, demographic and economic trends, other market drivers and barriers to deployment)
  • Detailed market estimates and projections, by type of laser/end-user segment/region for the period 2008–2014
  • Supplier profiles
  • Patent analysis 
Both primary and secondary research methodologies were used in this research report. The findings and conclusions of this report are based on information gathered from developers, vendors, integrators, and users of medical lasers. Interview data were combined with information gathered through an extensive review of secondary sources such as trade publications, trade associations, company literature, and online databases to produce the baseline market estimates contained in this report.
The base year for analysis and projection is 2008. With 2008 as a baseline, market projections were developed for 2009 to 2014. The projections are based on a combination of a consensus among the primary contacts combined with BCC’s understanding of the key market drivers and their impact from a historical and analytical perspective.
The specific assumptions and approach BCC used to develop the projections (both near/mid-term and long term) for each application are documented in detail under the various segments addressed. This way, readers can see how the market estimates were developed and, if they so desire, test the impact on the final numbers of changing assumptions regarding such matters as date of regulatory approval.
All dollar projections presented in this report are in 2008 constant dollars.
The author of this report is Andrew McWilliams. Mr. McWilliams, a partner in the Boston-based international technology and marketing consulting firm of 43rd Parallel, LLC, is the author of several other BCC Research studies of the healthcare and related industries, including HLC016C Microelectronic Medical Implants: Products, Technologies & Opportunities; HLC036C Medical Robotics and Computer-Assisted Surgery; HLC042A Radiation-Based Therapy and Therapeutic Imaging; HLC051D Trends in the Noninvasive and Minimally Invasive Medical Device Market; HLC038B Patient Monitoring; HLC054A The Home Medical Equipment Market; HLC048B Health Care Information Technology; HLC066A Medical Automation Technologies, Products and Markets; and HLC070A Preventive Healthcare Technologies, Products and Markets. 
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The information developed in this report, is intended to be as reliable as possible at the time of publication and of a professional nature. This information does not constitute managerial, legal, or accounting advice; nor should it serve as a corporate policy guide, laboratory manual, or an endorsement of any product, as much of the information is speculative in nature. The author assumes no responsibility for any loss or damage that might result from reliance on the reported information or from its use.

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