It wasn't necessarily the last, best hope for investors in Candela (Nasdaq: CLZR), but when activist hedge fund Third Point established a near 9% position in the aesthetic laser maker, it gave us hope that maybe we would finally get a much-needed -- and much hoped-for -- management change.

Third Point manager Daniel Loeb has been known to agitate for change, and indeed, he was soon pushing for possible "strategic alternatives." The situation was bound to become contentious, and it didn't take long before Candela's management charged that Loeb was not being the "passive" investor his SEC filings claimed.

Thus, recent news that Loeb had cut Third Point's position in Candela to just 3.5% wasn't exactly happy tidings. But you really can't blame him. When he first acquired his 2 million shares, he paid around $11.50 apiece for them. Today, those same shares trade at less than $4 a stub. His $23 million investment had declined to about $8 million.

Loeb has run into difficulties with a few of his investments, and he lightened up his holdings with them as well. He recently reduced his stake in Cypress Semiconductor (NYSE: CY) and CV Therapeutics (Nasdaq: CVTX) (maybe he was just clearing out his holdings of stocks beginning with the letter "C").

With revenue at Candela melting away faster than one of its lasers can melt cellulite, and with rivals like Syneron Medical (Nasdaq: ELOS), Cynosure (Nasdaq: CYNO), and Palomar Medical Technologies (Nasdaq: PMTI) all poised to surpass it in terms of sales and innovation, perhaps the best investors can hope for is that another activist hedge fund like Chapman Capital rides to the rescue to agitate for relief.

With the economy eroding and capital drying up, consumers might not want to shell out money for these vanity procedures, and doctors may start cutting back on acquiring the machines to perform them. In that situation, both investors and the laser companies will end up getting singed.

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Fool contributor Rich Duprey still owns shares of Candela for some unknown reason, but does not have a financial position in any of the other stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.