Your aesthetic patients have never been more confused as they are today. Think about all of the options they have when it comes to their cosmetic enhancements. Say, for example, they want to take a spin with Botox for the first time.

They can return to the plastic surgeon who did their earlier work.

They can revisit the dermatologist who treated their acne.

They can check out the new medical spa in their neighborhood.

They can even try their obstetrician and gynecologist or internist who now offer injectables.

Is that much choice a good thing? Maybe for the patient; maybe not for your practice.


A majority of patients today consider aesthetic procedures and treatments to be a commodity. They don’t see the difference between specialties, skills, training, and expertise. Some see only the nice people and the beautiful furnishings of the office or spa, and equate that to quality medicine. Some see only price, and that isn’t good for anyone.

The last thing this industry needs is bad outcomes performed by poorly trained competition. That trend will hurt all practitioners in the eyes of aesthetic patients.

It is truly astounding how quickly the needs and wants of aesthetic patients have evolved.

They want you to deliver the maximum result with less-invasive technologies.

The aging Baby Boomers cannot or will not tolerate excessive downtime, scarring, and anesthesia if they believe they can get a “good enough” result without the time, money, and hassle that go with complicated surgical procedures.


The industry’s vendors spend millions of dollars per year on research and development, furiously attempting to anticipate and address the fickle needs of the aesthetic patient.

New laser procedures, a dizzying array of injectables, as well as combination therapies give the patient and the physician lots of options for a customized treatment plan.

Too many options? When does mass confusion set in? Answer: now.

The physician who tries to explain the various options to the aesthetic patient runs the risk of offering too much information.

When the aesthetic patient tells you he or she has to “think it over,” that isn’t good. The patient who has to sort through too many options may opt to do nothing.


As both big pharmaceutical companies and smaller, niche manufacturers are jumping into aesthetics, they are taking their message directly to consumers.

These firms realize the more demand they can create for their products and services, the more likely their customers (the physicians) will sign on.

The issue becomes how does the physician address their patients’ questions and requests?

The patients are being lured into buying products and services via mass advertising blitzes, so all they know is they want what they heard about in an advertisement. Forget about rational things, such as “is the product or service right for them or not.” Advertising—good advertising, at any rate—has a proven record of lulling people into a state of mind that approximates a “waking coma.”

See also “The Cosmedic Commodity” by Wendy Lewis in the October 2007 issue of PSP.

The physician must either educate their customers on the specifics of that new product or service, or steer them toward something the physician already offers.


Under these circumstances, your best response is to educate patients on what’s going on in the aesthetic world. That means you have to bone up on new technologies and form opinions about them.

Building and maintaining a relationship with your patients will build trust with them and keep them returning to you—and bringing their friends with them.

Catherine Maley, MBA, is president of Cosmetic Image Marketing, an advertising, marketing, and public relations firm based in Sausalito, Calif, that specializes in helping aesthetic practices grow. She can be reached at .