Why Patient Retention Should Be Your Number One Focus

by Catherine Maley, MBA

Cosmetic patient retention is one of the most critical challenges facing practices today. This is why patient retention should be your number one focus.

Your profits and profitability depend on your ability to create and maintain cosmetic patients for life.

The reasoning for this is very simple: Marketing is difficult and expensive. It costs money to generate leads, create a recognizable brand, and get cosmetic patients to choose you.

Without cosmetic patient retention, that time and money is wasted, constantly flowing out as cosmetic patients decide to go with your competitors. With strong retention, on the other hand, you maximize marketing efforts and put those investments to good use, helping to build momentum not only through that cosmetic patient, but with every other person they tell about their experience with you.

Here is another way to look at it: Churn, or attrition, is one of the most devastating factors affecting profitability because you lose the investment it took to attract each cosmetic patient in the first place, in addition to the loss of potential future revenues and referrals.

Even a 5% monthly churn rate means a 60% loss of cosmetic patients over the course of one year.


Insane competition, commoditization, discounting, and advertising costs through the roof are making it extremely difficult to keep up your lifestyle and income. Here are statistics that you should know:

  • It Costs 7X More to Attract a New Patient than to Retain an Existing Patient
  • It’s 16x cheaper to keep a current cosmetic patient coming back for more than spending money on advertising trying to attract new “Internet Stranger Patients”
  • 50% of New Patients DO NOT RETURN
  • New Patient Conversion Rate is a paltry 5% to 20%


You invest time, money, and energy into strategies and campaigns that are geared toward attracting new cosmetic patients and introducing them to your practice. What many practices don’t realize is that the most important part of marketing comes after the first visit, when the focus switches to that of reducing churn and maximizing cosmetic patient retention.


The way to combat these challenges is to think smarter and more strategically for the long run.

Use your current assets (existing patients) to generate more revenues for less marketing dollars while using them to bring in new patients too! Here are more stats that matter:

  • Existing Patients spend 30% more on their average order size value than new patients
  • Loyal Existing Patients spend 67% More Than New Patients
  • Existing Patient Conversion Rate to new procedures is 70%-80%


And, according to research by Invesp Consulting, it costs 7 times as much to attract a new cosmetic patient than it does to keep an existing one. By focusing on repeat visits, you are able to establish relationships with cosmetic patients and build momentum with them, instead of continuously spending money on acquisition.

Source: Invesp, ProfitWell


There are various studies that show that word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most valuable forms of marketing. Why? Because 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over other types of advertising.

Once a cosmetic patient is loyal to a brand, they are more likely to spend more as well. The lifetime value of referred cosmetic patients is 16% higher than non-referred cosmetic patients.

Social media influencers are becoming a form of word-of-mouth marketing as well. Though influencers may not be family and friends, they offer valuable opinions that viewers trust, and that can influence their buying decisions.


Beyond the revenue generated by repeat cosmetic patients, there are social benefits to having a loyal following. One is the power of brand evangelists who grow your practice for you via their return visits, reviews, and social proof.

This is the main reason being why your number one focus should be patient retention can create brand advocates and allow them to become your unpaid marketing evangelists by boosting your revenues significantly so a cosmetic patient who was worth $1K to you is now worth $10K to you when you nurture that relationship.


Customer service is an important factor in how loyal cosmetic patients are to your practice. Those who have a positive experience with a practice may spend up to 140% more than cosmetic patients who did NOT have a good experience.

This is because the average cosmetic patient’s focus has shifted from price to value. Value includes the price of the procedure, as well as the perceived value of the entire experience.

This is extremely important when it comes to your profit margins because it directly implies that a strong cosmetic patient retention rate ensures you have long-lasting and loyal cosmetic patients who will invest in your success and boost your bottom line.

Revenues from happy cosmetic patients, as well as word- of-mouth recommendations, have the power to become a huge portion of your annual revenues, dramatically reducing your cosmetic patient acquisition costs and increasing your revenues.


Catherine Maley, MBA is a cosmetic practice consultant, speaker, trainer, blogger and podcaster. Her popular book, Your Aesthetic Practice/What Your Patients Are Saying is read and studied by plastic surgeons and their staff all over the world.

She and her team specialize in growing plastic surgery practices using creative patient attraction, conversion, follow up and retention strategies as well as staff training to turn team members into converting rock stars.

Visit Catherine for Free resources at www.CatherineMaley.com or Instagram @catherinemaleymba.

Click below to read “Why Patient Retention Should Be Your Number One Focus” in its original format in Aesthetic Society News, Winter 2022, volume 26, number 1