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Ep.64: Number One Stress of a Plastic Surgeon


Ep.64: Number One Stress of a Plastic Surgeon

One of the biggest stresses of a cosmetic practice is finding a solid patient attraction plan you can count on to bring in new patients.

All you need is a proven method for maintaining a relationship with those patients, building trust, and encouraging them to return, refer, review and share you on social.

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The #1 Stress of a plastic surgeon


It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in practice 5 years or 20 years…


One of the biggest stresses of a cosmetic practice is finding a solid patient attraction plan you can count on to bring in new patients.


Nothing else matters. Not your new office, your new laser or your killer IG videos.


If you don’t have cosmetic patients saying yes to you and giving you money, you’re in big trouble.


Think of cosmetic patients as your oxygen. When you have a steady flow of them saying yes to you, you breath easy.


When you don’t, your breathing is cut off and you won’t survive for long.

And it never quits. The anxiety. Even when you’re booked out for months, aren’t you waiting for the other shoe to drop?


The well was running over and now it’s dry.


On the other hand….


When you have a solid patient attraction system in place, you breathe easy.


But here is what usually happens…

Whenever most surgeons decide to grow their practices, they start with the most expensive and costly option available — trying to get new patients.

So they spend a small fortune trying to get these “stranger Internet patients” while they leave untapped profits in their backyards.

For some reason, there is something seductive about going after new patients instead of ethically garnering more profit from your existing patient files.

But please keep in mind, The most expensive act you can ever participate in is to find a new “Internet stranger” patient.

I’m just saying, it behooves you to have a balanced plan and budget for externally advertising for new “internet stranger” patients AND internally advertising to your current patients.



To illustrate my point, I want to tell you a quick story.

There’s this farmer who hears of the massive fortunes being made by people mining diamonds. He decides his life is stuck in a rut and he is tired of farming his land because of all the stupid rocks on the property. Rocks all over the place. He can’t walk 2 yards without nearly falling over these little boulders. He thinks his land is absolutely useless for farming or for anything else.

So he decides to set out for his fortune. But first, he sells his worthless land to make some money so he can leave.

After wasting all his money in a fruitless search for a diamond mine, he returns home. When he gets back, he finds out his old property is now the site of the largest diamond mine in the country.

Those rocks he kept tripping over were really diamonds in the rough! He literally had a fortune at his feet but did not realize it – Does that sound familiar?

The same thing applies here. Most surgeons never realize the immense profit potential in their own patient database.

Before you write this off, think about how much money and time you have spent building goodwill and trust by servicing your patient base. It’s been thousands and thousands of dollars and countless hours.

That’s where all your leverage is because you’ve done the hard part already.

You already spent the time, money and effort attracting these patients to you, so it’s time to turn these happy patients into your unpaid sales ambassadors who grow your practice organically from the inside out.

All you need is a proven method for maintaining a relationship with those patients, building trust, and encouraging them to return, refer, review and share you on social.


Let’s start with:


Returning Patients

­The beauty of our industry (pun intended) is that you have built-in demand with your current patients because a cosmetic patient who cares about how they look today, will still care next month, next year and next decade.


That means if you have a list of 2,000 patients but only 100 “regulars”, where did the other 1900 go? Yes, some of them moved away; however, the majority of them went elsewhere to continue their cosmetic rejuvenation treatments and procedures.


And, it’s usually NOT because they didn’t get a great result from you. It’s because you’ve been ignoring them so they wandered off to your competitors who treat them better.


The simple solution is to keep in touch with them so they don’t forget about you.


Now let’s talk about

Word-of-Mouth Referrals

Your current patients are your best advertisement when it comes to bringing you new patients.


This not only significantly reduces spending on new patient advertising, it also increases patient retention, which is a very good thing.



Because referred patients have a higher conversion rate than “Internet stranger patients”. Referred patients also spend more per transaction and are more likely to return, so their lifetime value is much greater.

This makes patient referral programs the most cost-effective AND lucrative marketing strategy that your practice can possibly employ.

By the way, you can learn a lot when looking at how other industries use referral programs to grow their businesses. Here are a few:

PayPal. They literally gave away free money, and it worked out great for them. And this was before social media!

Airbnb. A single user in China led to thousands of signups and hundreds of bookings in a single month.

Uber. They’ve been in a unique position to run multiple referral programs at once – for both users and for drivers.

Tesla. $1,000 for both advocate and friend, with quite a star-studded list of advocates!

Amazon Prime. Likely one of the most heavily used referral programs in recent times.

Google. When the front page of the Internet decides to run a referral program, it’s worth looking into.


Obviously, you are not going to pay cash for patient referrals due to fee-splitting issues in our industry; however, that is no reason to close your mind to a referral program.


You may not be allowed to pay for referrals directly like other businesses can, but you are certainly allowed to grow your practice strategically and ethically, so it makes sense to figure out a deliberate, systematic way of encouraging patients to refer you to others.


Then there are reviews

Social proof is everything in our industry because your surgical services are intangible. Your perspective patients can only go by your before and after photos and what others say about you.


In my converting club where I train coordinators to convert more consultations, we review why the patients said yes when choosing that surgeon over the competitors and oftentimes, it was because the prospective pateints loved their  reviews.


But you can’t “hope” your current patients will spread the word about you.

Between their hectic work schedules and never-ending list of social and family obligations, your marketing strategy is the last thing on their minds so you Need creative ways to make reviews happen more often .

Lastly, Is social media

encouraging your patients to brag about you to their friends and followers on social media helps you get in front of new perspective cosmetic patients who otherwise would never know you exist.

But you want to regulate this to keep it upscale and professional . The easiest way to do that is to have your staff bond with your patients and find out how active they are on social media.

Then have your staff video you performing a treatment on the patient or consulting with the patient or answering their questions or have the patient show off their post-op result.

That way, You gain instant trust and credibility with perspective patients because that patient’s followers trust them and now they trust you too. It’s called transference of credibility so use it anytime there’s an opportunity.

OK so to wrap this up, I want to urge you to think more strategically about Patient attraction in the future, because patient retention needs to be part of your plan.

It’s just going to get more expensive and complicated so try the easier, faster and cheaper way.

You really do have a goldmine in your current patient list and I would be happy to mine it for you if you don’t want to. I guarantee there are diamonds there.




Catherine Maley

Catherine Maley

Catherine is a business/marketing consultant to plastic surgeons. She speaks at medical conferences all over the world on practice building, marketing and the business side of plastic surgery. Get a Free Copy of her popular book, Your Aesthetic Practice: What Your Patients Are Saying View Author Profile.


Beauty and the Biz is for Plastic Surgeons who know they don’t know everything and are open to discovering the pearls to grow and scale a sellable asset when they’re ready to exit.

Listen in as Catherine interviews surgeons who talk about the business and marketing side of plastic surgery and listen to Catherine’s pearls from consulting with plastic surgeons since Year 2000.



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