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Selling the Invisible: 4 Key Elements Needed to Promote Cosmetic Surgery Procedures

Dear Catherine,

More and more I find cosmetic patients coming to me to fix some work they had done elsewhere.

Why are they not choosing me initially? I am not the cheapest but I am fairly priced for my skill and expertise so what is going on?

I cannot imagine why cosmetic patients would risk getting sub-par results just to save money.

What am I missing?

Dr. C

Catherine’s Answer:

Dr. C,

That’s a great question. As a plastic surgeon, you’re in a tough position when it comes to promoting the invisible.

Your cosmetic surgery services are intangible. Prospective patients can’t “see, touch, feel” your product so that makes it difficult for them to decipher the quality of work they are paying for. That’s a big reason its so difficult for them to decide on you versus your competitors. There’s nothing tangible for them to compare.

Cosmetic patients also have to get past the fear of uncertainty and regret. Let’s face it – once they have a cosmetic surgical procedure performed, it cannot be undone or returned. If the procedure was not done properly or if the patient is not satisfied, they can attempt to have it redone to get the result they wanted, but the initial work cannot be erased and must be dealt with.

So, why wouldn’t a cosmetic patient choose you over others?

The reality is cosmetic patients are choosing you for so much more than just your medical degrees.

Here are 4 key elements needed to promote cosmetic surgery procedures


Because your cosmetic services are invisible and do not provide prospective patients with visual clues about function, performance and benefits, you have to be creative.

The way to win over your competitors is to help patients understand what the procedure entails and its value. The procedure description should clearly state:

  • What the procedure is – what is performed
  • Why the procedure is important – the solution to their problem
  • Benefits of the procedure – time saved, reduced costs, improvements made
  • Deliverables – what the patient can expect in terms of recovery and assistance


Your staff needs to have the training, tools, attitudes and image to provide exceptional service. In addition to technical skills, they have got to be patient-centric focused. That means people skills are needed for open communication with the patient so they are comfortable you are living up to their expectations. This not only streamlines the process, it also improves the value of the service the patient perceives they are getting.


Well-defined processes ensure that the service is provided in a consistent manner. This is important for efficiency as well as for the perceived quality of service.

For example, your ancillary services may be performed by your staff. However, the patient often expects the service to be provided in a specific way or by a specific individual—and that can pose challenges in assigning staff, managing the process, and ensuring a consistent experience and result.

Properly documented processes also make it easier to train new staff that joins you so, they too, provide consistent services. A procedural protocol that runs smoothly is perceived as a sign of quality by the patient and cannot be taken lightly.

Physical Evidence

This last “P” deals with anything ‘tangible’ or visual. That includes your before/after photos, reviews and patient testimonials. But it goes beyond that to your image, such as your lobby, location, furniture, marketing materials, hair, shoes, jewelry, clothes, etc. It’s the details that distinguish you and help position you as the best service provider at a fair price.

Patients notice if your office is cluttered and not well maintained. Your office has to look the part and match your practice’s positioning and branding. If you want to be a high-end practice that charges more than your competitors, make sure your office shows it.

Creating patient relationships, setting appropriate expectations, and learning to represent your practice in an acceptable way (e.g., through appearance, attitude, and communications) is what encourages patients to say YES to you.

For even more strategies to make you stand out from your competitors, check out this online learning module in More Patients Academy:

What have you done to differentiate your invisible skills and expertise?
What creative ways do you promote your intangible procedures?

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