Imagine the astonishment as Ponce de Leon, the Spanish explorer credited with discovering the legendary Fountain of Youth in 1513, teleports to present time. He would the manifestation of disappearing wrinkles, shaving bumps, spider veins, tattoos, scars, acne, hair removal and the effects of similar aesthetic rejuvenations, not with an elixir but with light.
Nearly 500 years later, people still clamor to be ever-young, ever-beautiful and ever-healthy, and aesthetic and surgical lasers help enhance their appearance, self-esteem, personal comfort and quality of life. And thus, they are willing to pay for the benefits of LASER treatment.
We have over 25,000 medical spas on the U.S., and more physicians are adding aesthetic services to their practice every month. Many surveys indicate that patients prefer a medical rather than a spa environment to receive laser procedures, and therefore doctors of many specialties will offer various non-invasive light-based treatments to their own patients in years to come. Lasers are main stream of aesthetic medicine.
Primary care providers chose their profession out of a desire to help patients live better and longer lives according to the Hippocratic Oath. But the winds of change are blowing stronger across the landscape of medical practices throughout America. Now, more than ever, practitioners wishing to fulfill their calling are increasingly challenged on all sides by the pressures of time, patient demands, and complexity in the health insurance industry, government involvement and economics.
Many primary care providers (PCPs) find themselves on a treadmill, trying to maintain the highest standards of care while also endeavoring to achieve the rewards they and their families deserve to compensate the years and high cost of medical training and the long hours devoted to this most noble profession. There are several strategies to bring the economics of medical practice back into balance: work more hours and see more patients (not usually possible); raise fees (not practical given insurance industry dynamics); cut costs further (many practices are already close to a point of diminishing returns); or offer new, cash-based medical services.
Chiropractic and pain management clinics are getting into aesthetic medicine. Some of the more forward looking doctors in the field realize the potential of the growing market and feel that laser aesthetic procedures are a natural extension of their core business.
For these chiropractors, adding aesthetic services has been a plus. Not only have they benefited from an entirely different client base, but they’ve offered reasons for established patients to come in more regularly. And correcting cash-flow issues has been a real plus.
But aesthetic services will not fit every practice. Chiropractors need to learn about the new treatments they’re considering and measure the potential benefits against possible drawbacks. If space or staffing is an issue — or if new marketing methods do not seem feasible — reconsider.
Aesthetics can offer a brand new way of approaching a chiropractic practice, complementing existing holistic services for a growing baby-boomer market.
A general drop off in plastic surgery procedures has become an obvious trend evidenced by many surveys. Consumers opt for less invasive and less expensive cosmetic procedures, such as dermal fillers and light-based aesthetic treatments. Among the procedures on the rise are Botox, dermal fillers, laser skin resurfacing, skin rejuvenation with skin tightening, laser treatments of age spots and spider veins.
Another story with comments by several plastic surgeons published in clarionledger.com adds to the following prevailing trends in aesthetic medicine:
Aesthetic physicians are being forced into turning into businessmen more than ever before. Those who have adapted stand to gain tremendously when consumer spending turns around.
A growing number of physicians are supplementing their traditional practices – and incomes – with cosmetic and aesthetic procedures such as Botox injections, laser facials, laser hair removal, spider vein removal and, in some cases, cosmetic surgery, – writes Wichita Health Care Examiner Andi Atwater.
Traditionally the domain of plastic surgeons and dermatologists, the business of beauty is booming among “non-core” physicians whose certifications and practices include family medicine, obstetrics-gynecology and ophthalmology.
Physicians who become successful in the field of medical aesthetics are typically the ones who are forward looking, passionate about anti-aging and with a good business sense. A small treatment room, focus on a few procedures and a little marketing to their existing customer base is all they need to start doing what they like and add significant revenue to the practice.
Aesthetic and anti-aging medicine, cosmetic dermatology, minimally invasive skin rejuvenation are among the most recent and dynamically growing fields of medicine. Dermal fillers, laser hair treatments, laser skin resurfacing, body contouring and laser assisted liposuctionare quickly becoming a standard offering at many forward-looking medical practices. These treatments are no longer part of the close captioned realm of plastic and cosmetic surgeons. OB/GYNs, family practitioners, internists and dentists are moving in the field expanding the availability of aesthetic services and increasing customers’ awareness.
Here is a good panel of doctors talking about cosmetic dermatology.
Just a couple of comments on the recent stats published by The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). Full report is available at http://www.surgery.org/press/statistics-2008.php. There is also a good post at the Aesthetic Medicine News.
The report reaffirms our opinion that in tough economic times, small aesthetic luxuries are still in demand. ASAPS’ report, 2008 Statistics on Cosmetic Surgery, outlines that 8,491,861 non-surgical procedures were done in 2008. This is a reduction of 11.7% over 2007, and interestingly the only three growth non-surgical procedures were Calcium hydroxylapatite (Radiance) injections (up 3%), chemical peels (up 2.9%) and laser skin resurfacing which had increased by 12%.
Another important conclusion in the report: many of the non-invasive non-surgical treatments are being preformed by professionals outside the membership of the ASAPS. The public can now get many of these procedures in medical spas and physicians’ offices, i.e. not in operating rooms.
“However, it is clear that the economy is having an impact on the aesthetic medicine industry: its the “Lipstick Effect” in Aesthetic Medicine, a phrase coined by Leonard Lauder, Chairman of Estee Lauder, who saw a huge jump in lipstick sales after September 11th. During times of economic uncertainty, consumers load up on affordable luxuries as a substitute for more expensive items. For physicians in Aesthetic Medicine, the lipstick effect manifests itself in patients choosing laser lipolysis over surgical liposuction or dermal fillers over face lifts.”
Aesthetic non-invasive medical offerings represent the perfect storm between the current economy, medicine and profitability. Dr. Jason Pozner’s comments support this assertion. “Patients aged 35-50 continue to dominate [the cosmetic surgery market], having 45% of the cosmetic procedures, and most commonly getting liposuction and Botox. After the age of 51, the top procedures were blepharoplasty and Botox (32% of the total patient population). For the 19-34 set, the top procedures were breast augmentation and laser hair removal, and for everyone below 18, it was rhinoplasty and laser hair removal.” Even within cosmetic surgery practices, non-invasive procedures are more than competitive in all segments with cosmetic surgery offerings.
Regardless of the economic outlook, the top five non-surgical procedures, as reported by the ASAPS for 2008:
- laser hair removal
- hyaluronic acid dermal fillers
- chemical peels, and
- laser skin resurfacing
These are the treatments that will continue to offer physicians in aesthetic medicine the best options for profitability in 2009.