Following the postponement of ACE 2020 on March 13 and 14, Aesthetics Clinical Advisory Board member Dr Tapan Patel offered to hold a free workshop for a small group of practitioners who had travelled to London for the event.
Taking place at Dr Patel’s PHI Clinic in Harley Street on March 13, the impromptu session gave doctors, dentists and nurses new to aesthetics the opportunity to ask questions and discuss best practice.
As a key opinion leader and award-winning clinic owner with more than 20 years’ experience, Dr Patel was able to share valuable insight on patient retention and product selection, as well as advising on complications prevention and management.
One of the first questions asked and a concern for many was, how do you get more patients? Dr Patel recommended practitioners aim to see patients at least once a week and dedicate as much time to them as possible. “Even if you haven’t got many patients, still book an hour with them,” he said, adding, “Ask lots of questions and really take your time to assess their concerns. It’s all excellent learning opportunities for you, and patients will value your time. Give great service and go the extra mile.”
The delegates noted that one of the main challenges they face when it comes to patient retention was competition, particularly from non-medics practising in their locality with large social media followings.
One attendee said, “I really pride myself on my ethics and not posting inappropriate before and after images or offering time-limited deals, but it’s really hard to stick to that when beauty therapists in my area are doing so well by doing so, while I’m struggling to get patients.”
Dr Patel reminded the practitioners that their unique selling point is that they are medical professionals, often with years of clinical experience, so they should really emphasise that in their marketing. He also urged practitioners not to offer financial incentives for treatments, as doing so would be a breach of Advertising Standards Authority guidelines and professional codes of conduct.
“As an alternative, consider offering added value to your patients’ treatments with a complementary facial or glycolic acid peel,” he suggested, emphasising, “Never compromise your ethics and remember that your best advocate is your patient – it’s much more expensive to recruit a new patient than it is to look after your existing. Word of mouth is how you grow.”
The next question asked was how do you choose treatments and products for your clinic. Having trialled numerous injectable brands and energy-based devices, Dr Patel advised delegates to always analyse the studies behind the products, look at their track record and the expert panel using them. He suggested speaking to peers working abroad, who are more likely to give an honest answer without threat of competition.
Dr Patel also noted that practitioners shouldn’t assume that all products from one company are the very best at what they do. For example, one laser could offer excellent acne scarring results, while another from a different company may be better at managing rosacea, he said. Finally, Dr Patel noted, “Don’t choose something just because it’s cheaper – I always ask myself, ‘Would I use this on my mum?’ and if the answer is no, then I wouldn’t use it on my patients.”
The prevention and management of dermal filler complications was a key discussion point for the group. As well as outlining how to recognise an occlusion, Dr Patel advised delegates to all practise diluting hyaluronidase so they are prepared in the event of an emergency. He pointed out his emergency kit in the treatment room, noting, “If I can’t see that green box, then I don’t treat – it must be easily accessible at all times.”
Dr Patel also recommended all attendees read New High Dose Pulsed Hyaluronidase Protocol for Hyaluronic Acid Filler Vascular Events by Dr Claudio DeLorenzi and highlighted the importance of ensuring emergency treatment is covered in consent forms and consultations so there’s no delay to procedures. “You have to ensure you have effective communication before you begin,” he said, adding, “My favourite phrase is ‘Information you give to a patient before a procedure is called informed consent, information you give after is called an excuse’.”
Finally, delegates sought advice on professional development. “Join relevant associations and attend conferences,” said Dr Patel. He explained that most associations run smaller regional events and offer lots of support to practitioners working alone.
Concluding, Dr Patel highlighted, “In aesthetics, there’s a real danger of not developing at all, but there’s plenty of resources available to support you. I attend at least four paid-for training courses a year and tell myself that if I learn three new things to take home to my clinic, then it’s a day well spent. You have to have self-belief and invest in yourself to succeed.”