Many dermatologists enjoy seeing and treating cosmetic patients. There is the creative artistic aspect to treating these patients, as well as the fairly immediate improvement, minimal downtime and risk, and overall mostly happy patients who pay good money to look their best. However, a cosmetic patient who is not pleased with you or the results they achieved can give you gray hair, or worse, lead to complaints and lawsuits. While making extra money is nice, avoiding headaches, hassles, complaints, and lawsuits are what seasoned dermatologists strive for. The time involved in hand-holding unhappy patients or responding to complaints or dealing with lawyers is never worth the money you made providing cosmetic services.
Here is a list of patient characteristics and qualities that you should pay attention to and, when possible, avoid treating:
o Unrealistic expectations (e.g. expects 1 glycolic acid peel to fix her acne problem
o Rude patients (to you or your staff)
o Overly flattering patients
o Overly familiar patients
o Sudden whim patient
o Minimal imagined deformity – the Body Dysmorphic Disorder patient
o Very Important Patient (VIP) or “Holier Than Thou”
o The physician shopper – “I’ve seen 5 other cosmetic doctors before you”
o Patient involved in litigation against physicians in the past
o Patient puts down other physicians (especially if you know them to be very good)
o Too many phone calls or too many no-shows to your office
o Uncooperative patient
o Price-haggler/Let’s make a deal!
o Gut feeling of dislike or your staff dislike the patient
o Patient has a major event within a few days of their treatment
o Only want a few units of botulinum toxin or a ¼ syringe of filler – not worth your time and effort!
o Exquisite pain sensitivity
o Never quite pleased with the previous cosmetic treatments you provided