Hello, Mona

New laser spa opens in Vancouver

Vancouver residents Zaha and Sammy Hassan are setting their sights on the $2 billion laser spa industry. They’ve opened a franchise of the Tennessee-based Mona Spa and Laser Center, the pioneer of the trend to combine clinical laser skin treatment with traditional day spa amenities. The new spa is one of four like facilities located in Vancouver.

Zaha, an attorney, and her husband Sammy, an anesthesiologist at legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center, say they decided to open the spa after they recognized the interest in the market for laser treatment in a relaxed setting.

"Right now, what we’re finding is the lasers are just in the doctors’ offices and so it’s the same as any doctor’s office experience," said Zaha. "Younger people are inter-ested in the treatments, but just don’t want to do it in a stuffy medical environment."

Clients of the spa could drop as much as $2,000 for a one-time treatment, and the spa is certainly devoid of anything resembling "stuffy." Minimalist décor, an on-site massage therapist, dim lighting, Feng-Shui-inspired arches and marble bowl sinks with gentle running water combine with New Age wooden flute music to create a Zen-like atmosphere in which Ravi Shankar or even Yani would feel quite comfortable.

"It sort of humanizes an intimidating industry," said spa manager and esthetician Lloyd Winkler. "Even though a laser is medical, it doesn’t have to be threatening."

The lasers, unlike the calming décor of the spa, indeed suggest medical applications. They look like props from the back lot of Return of the Jedi, and one sits in each room.

"Now, you might notice some sparks or flashes when we do this," Winkler says as he prepares to demonstrate the laser device called the Cutera Titan. The machine delivers concentrated energy deep under the surface of the skin, and aids in tightening the tissue and improving pigmentation. In one session, more than 7,000 pulses of laser light can be administered. The spa offers seven types of laser treatments, which address wrinkle problems, cellulite, pigment appearance, skin texture and firmness. And while Winkler is careful to allow that laser treatments will not completely clear up the skin conditions they treat, they are a good therapeutic component to an individual’s health care regimen.

"It’s good for people who have just had surgery," said Dr. Sammy Hassan. "Working in a hospital, I see people with all kinds of problems from edema." Sammy said another factor that led him to invest in the franchise is that courses in the spa’s laser treatment methods are now offered in the curriculum at the University of Tennessee medical school.

"The FDA is interested in the Cynosure Machine as a treatment for edema," he said.

The Hassans have plans to broaden the beam of their laser treatment enterprise, as they prepare to open a second center in Bridgeport before the end of the year.

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