Building a body shaping clinic

By Wendy Lewis / 01 May 2014

Wendy Lewis explains why now is the perfect time to consider expanding your offering from the face to the body

The emerging market segments of body shaping and skin tightening have shown unprecedented growth in recent years. Body shaping and skin tightening devices have demonstrated aggressive expansion and have shown explosive growth: the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) audit for 2013 showed a 41% rise in liposuction procedures, a 16% rise in abdominoplasty procedures and a 24% increase in male gynaecomastia body contouring procedures.1 The emergence of energy-based systems and innovative technologies has paved the way for more companies to enter the sector, offering more options for practitioners as well as consumers. The time has never been better to consider adding body-shaping procedures to your clinic offering.
Body shaping encompasses a wide range of procedures that target weight reduction, as well as toning, firming and cellulite reduction. Skin-tightening procedures address wrinkles and skin laxity on the face and body.
For the quickest and most dramatic results, more invasive body-shaping surgery may be the preferred option. However, there has been a sea change in the mindset and goals of consumers since 2008, resulting in flat levels of growth in the surgical category. Because consumers tend to associate surgical procedures with longer recovery times, possible risks, higher costs, an anaesthetic, a hospital stay and visible scars, they are very open to investigating alternative options. Although non-surgical or minimally invasive treatments may not be the right fit for obese patients or patients with excessive skin laxity, a large percentage of consumers are willing to accept a lesser result from a lesser procedure.
Today, there are effective forms of cosmetic enhancement procedures to target every part of the body, which may require some improvement.


Whether their ultimate goal is to look great in clothes, fit into a smaller size or look good naked, patients have a lot of options to consider. The fact remains that there are some body issues that cannot be significantly altered through diet and exercise alone. The category of surgery for the body has greatly expanded to include numerous variations in ways to address excess fat, skin sagging and contouring defects. There is a global trend of more and newer procedures making up each of the major segments of cosmetic surgery for the body. For example, to address the mid-section, surgeons may now offer a standard abdominoplasty, modified or mini abdominoplasty, abdominal etching, liposuction, fat grafting or a combination procedure. This may also be combined with a lower body lift, thigh lift, buttock lift and/or fat grafting, as well as an upper body lift consisting of breast augmentation, mastopexy or reduction mammoplasty or gynaecomastia, brachioplasty, liposuction and so on. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), 2013 marked a record upward trend in both labiaplasty and buttock augmentation surgeries. Labiaplasty procedures increased by 44% over the course of the year, and buttock augmentation procedures rose by 58%.2 The rise in vaginal rejuvenation is often credited to the explosion of pornography online, while the increasing interest in buttock sculpting procedures has been at least partially driven by an overwhelming desire to have a firm, smooth, round bottom like many celebrities. 

If you are not a trained surgeon, but are seeing patients who are candidates for surgery and who have the means to have it done, consider recruiting a BAAPS plastic surgeon to your clinic a few days per month to expand your service offering. This way you may be able to keep those patients in your clinic rather than risk losing them to another clinic that is not likely to refer them back to you for non- surgical treatments. 

Cosmetic Surgery of the Body 

  •  Abdominoplasty 
  •  Body lift 
  •  Brachioplasty 
  •  Breast enhancement 
  •  Breast lift or reduction 
  •  Buttock enhancement 
  •  Buttock lift 
  •  Calf implants 
  •  Fat grafting 
  •  Gynaecomastia 
  •  Laser lipolysis 
  •  Liposuction 
  •  Pectoral implants 
  •  Thigh lift 
  • Vaginal rejuvenation 


More clinics in the UK are expanding their treatment menu as new and effective options for fat reduction, cellulite treatment, skin tightening, hair removal and décolletage and hand rejuvenation evolve. The emerging range of laser and light treatments and non-surgical services can now effectively address every conceivable aesthetic concern. Advanced technologies enable many wavelengths and energies to be used on all skin types and skin colours.
Skin tightening can be accomplished with a variety of energies including radiofrequency, ultrasound, heat-based energy or a combination of wavelengths. Fat reduction is used to target localised fat deposits without injections, anaesthetic or visiting the hospital. The energies used to fight fat range from heat (radiofrequency) to cold, ultrasound and lasers. Actual fat loss in centimetres varies from person to person and the downside is that results may not be immediate and usually multiple treatment sessions are needed. Ideal candidates are at a good weight with only small bulges. Each system comes with its own limitations based on the energy used and the configuration of handpieces. For example, some systems use handpieces that are too large for small body areas like upper arms, under the chin and knees. It is important to know before you buy exactly what the system will treat when you are purchasing it, not just what is planned for the future. Most non-invasive systems just reduce fat cells and are not intended for serious skin tightening, so you may need more than one device to treat a wider range of patients.
Consider which areas patients are most interested in treating, and what fees they may be willing to pay, based on your location and the demographics of your current clientele. It is not wise to bring on a new device with the sole purpose of attracting a brand new segment of patients, unless you have a huge marketing budget: you should have enough existing patients in your clinic to target first, and then build up additional clientele over time.
Cellulite reduction has proven very difficult historically, with past treatments focusing on surface remedies; however, new therapies are changing the way practitioners approach cellulite. It has been said that 90% of woman have cellulite, which accounts for a vast number of patients who have a potential interest in this service. Cellulite patients come in all shapes and sizes; even thin women can have lumps and dimples, which tend to get worse with age. There is some overlap when it comes to the body contouring and cellulite reduction categories, which is why it is important not only to research and trial several systems, but also to have more than one method to offer patients. Each patient represents a unique set of circumstances, which makes the task of consulting with patients even more important. Some systems may simultaneously sculpt specific areas of the body and target cellulite, or it might take a combination of different approaches to deliver good results.
With regards to cellulite, it is critical to be honest with patients. Every woman has heard about the miracle cures and most have a healthy degree of scepticism about new treatments. Let patients know up front what they can expect and how many treatments they really need, and build a maintenance programme into the treatments from the beginning. Offer advice on diet, exercise, lifestyle, and have them come back for additional treatment sessions as necessary.
Cellulite is like everything else you treat: it is chronic, it often gets worse with age, and it requires a multifactorial approach to keep it under control.

Body Shaping – the three basic categories and most popular treatment areas

  1.  Skin tightening – tummy, arms, thighs, knees 
  2.  Fat reduction – tummy, hips, thighs, knees, back, arms, chest (men) 
  3.  Cellulite reduction – thighs, buttocks, knees


If you find that patients are asking about services that you do not yet offer, and that you are referring them to colleagues and/ or competitors, it is time to take a look at how best to step it up.
A good place to start is to analyse what you already have in your clinic that may currently be underutilised. For example, if you are the proud owner of a multi-platform device that targets brown spots, hair, sun damage and acne, you already have the ability to do off-face treatments without incurring additional costs. The first areas to expand laser therapies to would be the chest or décolleté and the hands. If you are currently doing full face IPL or skin tightening, try using the same treatment for other areas where patients may have discolouration, crepey skin texture and other signs of sun damage and ageing skin.
Patients are not only conscious of the skin quality of their face; they are also interested in improving brown spots on their chest, arms and legs, and are interested in laser hair removal literally from their hairline to their toes. If you are an expert peeler, consider launching a body peel programme, with peeling solutions, microdermabrasion, dermal infusion systems and body products for home use. Hand rejuvenation using dermal fillers as well as neurotoxins, fat grafting and a series of glycolic or TCA peels, as well as energy-based treatments, is a popular category, which offers patients a whole new reason to come back to your clinic regularly. If you deal with reputable manufacturers or distributors that stand behind their products, you should enquire about having the clinic staff retrained to expand the uses of the systems you now own. Alternatively, consider trading up. If you have limited space, look into additional handpieces, or upgrading your current system(s) for newer models that work better, faster and do more.
In the near future, many practitioners focusing predominantly on facial injectables and skin-rejuvenation treatments will need to incorporate other services into their treatment portfolio to remain competitive and ensure clinic growth; looking into opportunities to do so will help expand your clinic, increase patient retention and encourage new patients to choose you over your competitors. 

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