|“Americans spent $4.1 billion on nearly 8 million nonsurgical cosmetic procedures 2 years ago, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). Not only is the market believed to be growing, it’s doing so outside traditional dermatology and plastic surgery specialty areas.
In fact, an increasing number of physician-directed spas are opening in an effort to reshape practice profitability and expand the service mix.Consider that about 5 million nonsurgical cosmetic procedures were performed by aestheticians last year, frequently in a spa setting, says Jeff Russell, executive director of the International Association for Physicians in Aesthetic Medicine (IAPAM), based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Many primary care physicians (PCPs) have decided to meet demand for these services by actively controlling the “med” part of these “medspas.” According to Russell, internists, family physicians, and obstetrician/gynecologists dominate the IAPAM’s training classes.Their interest in the field makes sense when you consider that the bulk of cosmetic procedure clients
are the very people who dominate the patient panels of internists and family physicians. Women aged 35 to 50 years have 44% of these procedures, whereas women between the ages of 51 and 65 have an additional 20%.
As Houston, Texas-based consultant Reed Tinsley, CPA, says, “If you have a fairly young patient base, why let patients go to a dermatologist for basic cosmetic work?” Keith Borglum, CHBC, of Professional Management and Marketing in Santa Rosa, California, adds that PCPs are simply responding to patient demand, especially in areas underserved by dermatologists.
Both consultants agree that having a physician’s credentials tied to a medspa’s service mix adds credibility even if the procedures are not required to be performed by a physician.
Interestingly enough, an IAPAM survey found that 78% of women aged 21 to 60 consider medical credentials important when choosing an aesthetic treatment provider, and most of them would prefer to receive injections and fillers in a medical environment. Although all spas offer these treatments, most of them are not owned by doctors, and physicians often do not provide most treatments themselves.
How can you determine whether adding aesthetic procedures will work for you? Start slowly.
“We recommend that physicians gradually integrate these services into their practices, perhaps seeing aesthetic patients from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays to start,” Russell says. “They can leverage their existing overhead that way and see if they enjoy it.”
The beauty, Russell adds, is that you could start offering these procedures with relatively little upfront capital and potentially reap the benefits of a new cash-based service.”
If you do not have a big enough facility to separate Aesthetic patients from sick patients, adapt the schedule, says Alberto Carro, MD (left). By keeping costs down, he was able to make a profit his first year offering cosmetic services.”
Thanks to Medical Economics for this helpful article. Read more in Medical Economics about a few considerations to help you evaluate how you might expand your practice.