Avoid Commoditization with Combination Therapy

Dr. Goldenberg physician perspective

Guest Blogger: Dr. Gary Goldenberg, Board Certified Dermatologist, New York, NY


Over the last 20 years, we’ve witnessed major technological advancements in the world of Aesthetic Medicine. FDA-cleared devices that tighten, shape, lift and rejuvenate have exploded onto the scene. Now, US-based aesthetic medical practices have a multitude of legitimate options to choose from when selecting the right tool to meet growing patient demand.

15+ Injectable fillers

4 Neurotoxins

30+ Aesthetic laser platforms addressing hair removal, pigment and vascular lesions

30+ Ablative and non-ablative fractional devices for skin resurfacing

20+ Skin tightening devices

5+ Fat destruction (body contouring) devices

5+ Muscle stimulating devices

10+ Microdermabrasion and micro-needling devices

Along with the growth of aesthetic technology, new physicians and mid-levels have been recruited into the space which has led to some market commoditization of the practice of aesthetics itself. Fortunately, wider acceptance of cosmetic procedures among diverse patient groups has also boosted the overall size of the aesthetics market. New patients are entering the aesthetics market every day, but a new economy presents challenges for an increasingly competitive industry.

With all the options out there and potentially challenging economic circumstances ahead, how will you keep your aesthetic patients in the practice and avoid commoditization?

For anyone that is loyal to their barber or hairstylist, I recommend borrowing a page from their book. When was the last time you asked them what type of scissors they use? I would guess never. Why is that? You trust them because of the quality of the work they have done in the past. When was the last time you bargained with your stylist over the price because haircuts are cheaper down the street? My guess is that you would not dare go down that path. You pay their fee because you have already determined that they are worth every penny.

As their client, you are focused on the end-result and the experience. Most people are willing to pay a premium to get that kind of predictability in their lives.

Why then, do we find ourselves having conversations with aesthetics patients about how we price our individual services? Well, this is where the barber analogy breaks down. We’re offering much more expensive and complex services and patients want to know what they are getting for their money. Aesthetic patients want value, yes, but at the end of the day they really want results and a great experience.

Top 3 commandments for aesthetics professionals in the new economy:

  1. Do NOT discount! Once you discount a procedure, your patients will expect the same for all procedures. You are unintentionally discounting your skills.
  2. Lean on combination therapy to create more value. This can be easily done by offering packages that include complementary procedures and treatments.
  3. Focus on the entire patient experience, not just the procedure. This experience begins when patients look you up online and concludes with the post-procedure phone call.

Putting complementary procedures and products together to address patients’ concerns is an art unto itself. Equally important is how you discuss the value of combination therapy and its necessity for their best outcome. Every modality in a combination therapy program is important and designed to help the patient achieve the desired outcome.

Although rare, if I ever position an individual component of a combination therapy as “optional” during the consult, it is always a value-add in a package. You want patients to avoid the thought of removing an important piece of the equation in an effort to save money. My patients want more value at a fair price without compromising any aspect of the results. When they trust their doctor with their result, you decide which modalities they ultimately receive.

I feel that the combination therapy approach to getting results also helps me establish trust early in the physician-patient relationship. It also attracts loyal patients to the practice who aren’t just “brand shopping.” The types of patients who show up to get the “latest, greatest marketed treatment” will leave you as fast as the blogosphere shifts its focus to the new and different thing.

We are each limited to the same industry tools and eventually, unlike your barber’s scissors, brands of products must be mentioned. Good technology matters to patients, but with increased competition what matters most in the new economy is giving the best possible result and providing them with an experience that is second to none.

To summarize, what will separate you from the rest is emphasis on the results, patient-doctor relationship, and overall patient experience. If you understand this, you will build a practice full of loyal patients that will stick with you regardless of fluctuations in the economy or an increase in competition. Analyze your current approach to aesthetics and decide if you are putting enough emphasis on combination therapy. If not, you may find it difficult to avoid commoditization.

About Dr. Goldenberg:

Dr. Gary Goldenberg is a medical and cosmetic dermatologist and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Dr. Goldenberg received his medical degree from Temple University School of Medicine. He completed his Residency in Dermatology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and Dermatopathology Fellowship at University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.