> Starting and Running a Practice

Incorporating Cosmetic Procedures into a General Dermatology Practice

It is advisable to visit as many offices as possible during residency training. See how different offices are set-up, request copies of paperwork and consents used (you may also download sample forms from NextStepsInDerm.com), and talk to the staff about their approach to patients. Which procedures are performed? Do practitioners buy, rent, or lease their equipment? How is the patient flow? Are all of the cosmetic patients seen on specific days of the week or mixed in with medical dermatology visits? By observing and asking these questions, you will get ideas for what you want and don’t want to do in your practice.

There is risk involved in performing cosmetic procedures, and patient expectations must be considered. It is advisable to start with treatments that have well-established efficacy and safety profiles before expanding to newer, more cutting-edge treatments. This approach will help build trust and continued interest with your patients. Many newer treatments and devices gain then lose popularity over a relatively short period of time. Other treatments gain new applications and treatment protocols to enhance their versatility. These factors must be taken into consideration when choosing treatments to incorporate into your practice.

There are several advantages to adding cosmetic procedures to a general dermatology practice:

  1. The ability to provide complete care for your patients and “one-stop-shopping” for all their skin care needs
  2. Increased referrals; patients will bring in or refer other patients
  3. Increased job satisfaction
  4. Increased income and improved cash-flow
  5. Avoidance of insurance issues for cosmetic procedures

There are also possible disadvantages to consider when adding a new dimension to an established practice:

  1. It usually takes more time to perform cosmetic procedures than most medical visits would take. You may need to adjust scheduling to allow for these treatments
  2. It may not be cost-effective in the short-term since time and resources must be invested in expanding the practice
  3. Physician training for specific procedures can take time out of a busy practice
  4. Training staff to promote and assist in procedures requires time and energy
  5. Potential risks and side effects of treatments requires “hand-holding” with patients
  6. Managing patient expectations takes time and patience
  7. Keeping up-to-date with new procedures can be time-consuming as well as expensive