Patient Retention for Plastic Surgeons

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Patient Retention for Plastic Surgeons

Patient retention for plastic surgeons has become more important than ever, so creative marketing strategies are needed.

That’s why it landed on the Plastic Surgery Marketing: What’s Working Now list.

The cosmetic rejuvenation marketplace has changed dramatically.

It’s matured and the players (internet marketers, marketing platforms and surgeons themselves) have matured as well when it comes to more sophisticated marketing efforts.

You can no longer afford what I talk about in Beauty and the Biz Podcast Ep.98: The Slow Leak of Lost Patients.

Plastic surgery practices try all sorts of ways to attract new cosmetic patients to their practice but get spotty results.

Some of it works. Most get mediocre results and some gets no results at all and this is oftentimes missed….

Most plastic surgeons never set up an automatic system to nurture their current patients who can help them grow their practice by returning, referring and reviewing.

But this oversight makes that practice vulnerable to their competitors luring away their patients  by offering them better customer service and/or cheaper prices.

That’s why one of the biggest mistakes established cosmetic practices make is putting all of their resources towards new patient leads.

And, as the competition grows, so does the barrage of marketing messages pummeling consumer prospective cosmetic patients. That leaves them confused, overwhelmed and indecisive.

These factors make attracting new cosmetic patients to your practice expensive, complicated and frustrating.

So here’s the bottom line… Maintaining relationships with your current cosmetic patients is the only cutting-edge strategy that will give you a competitive advantage and predictable revenues.

Benefits of Patient Retention

When you grow your cosmetic practice from the inside out (rather than spend your entire budget and efforts to attract new stranger patients from the Internet) good things happen.

Patient retention for plastic surgeons makes good sense no matter how you look at it.

Patient Retention for Plastic Surgeons

Your current patients grow your cosmetic revenues for you which brings you cost savings you may have not considered. For example:

  1. Reduced advertising costs
  2. Less time wasted on price-shoppers who are not likely to book
  3. Staff time used more productively working with good quality patients
  4. Reduced patient turnover expenses (fewer lost patients to replace)
  5. Increased cross selling success leading to increased lifetime value of patient
  6. Less patients lost to competitors
  7. More positive word of mouth referrals

If a practice is able to retain their high-quality patients, loyalty increases and so does profitability, because defection by a long-term patient can cause a dramatic loss and affect the bottom line.

The loyalty and retention stats of consumers might surprise you. Here are just a few to give you an idea of the importance of growing the loyalty and retention of cosmetic patients:

  • The converting rate of an existing cosmetic patient is 70-90%, while the converting rate of an Internet Stranger Patient drops to 5-20%.
  • It costs 7x-12x more to acquire a new cosmetic patient than to retain an old one.
  • For most industries, the average customer retention rate is below 20%.

The Slow Leak of Lost Patients

Have you ever wondered where your favorite patients went? You realize you haven’t seen them in a while and wonder if they moved.

I assure you; most are still around. They did NOT stop wanting cosmetic rejuvenation.

They just stopped wanting it from YOU – Sorry!

A longtime patient is yours to keep or yours to lose. If you lose too many, you lose your practice.

Because, like a car tire, practices don’t usually dissolve because of a blow out, instead they go flat due to a slow leak over time. That’s what happens when patient retention for plastic surgeons is ignored.

It’s so subtle and invisible, you don’t realize the devastation until you find yourself with holes in your schedule and profits down.

So Where did Your Patients go?

Cosmetic patients who care about their looks today will certainly care about their looks next month, next year and next decade.

These patients have endless needs, especially as the aging process takes over and life events continue to happen.

Cosmetic Patients Have Endless Needs

Depending on several factors, these patients enter your practice through different doors.

Some go straight to plastic surgery and then want to maintain with injectables and lasers.

Others start with smaller procedures and work their way up to surgery once they trust you.

The pearl is to meet these patients where they are and then nurture them for a lifetime.

Think “Cosmetic Patient for life”. That’s how you win in today’s competitive environment.

Because that’s where your leverage is. You spend a lot of money and effort to attract a cosmetic patient to you and then keep them with minimal effort.

Why Cosmetic Patients Leave

I actually did my own research for my book, “Your Aesthetic Practice/What Your Patients Are Saying” and here’s what I learned about why patients were dissatisfied:

  • Rude or indifferent staff
  • Inconsistent results
  • Inconsistent experience
  • Long waiting times
  • Money discrepancies/misunderstandings
  • No special reason*

*Many patients leave your practice for no special reason. That means they did not have a connection to you so they didn’t feel compelled to return. This stems from lack of communication so you are not “top of mind” when they are ready for cosmetic services.

They good news is that all of these can be avoided. Rather than throw more money at advertising, save your money and fix this first.

What is Patient Loyalty Worth?

Once you put real numbers to patient loyalty (or lack of loyalty), you will see the importance of this “invisible cost” that keeps you from growing.

A typical practice loses 10-20% of their patients each year. So, if you have 2,000 patients in your database and you lose, on average, 15% of them, that’s 300 patients lost each year.

Let’s say the average cosmetic patient is worth $5K, 300 x $5K = $450,000 of lost revenues each year.

If a $450,000 raise is exciting to you, here are strategies to increase your cosmetic patient retention and loyalty:

Patient Retention Strategies

Strategies for patient retention for plastic surgeons are listed below so please build them into your marketing plan:

Make Patient’s First Experience Memorable Using These Strategies:

-Welcome gift

-Add sample/gift to their receipt

-Avoid pain

-Make the patient comfortable

-Gift when they book their next appointment now

-No waiting

Encourage Patients to Return

Your first-time patients may have had a good experience but was it good enough for them to  return? Find out using these nurturing strategies:


The easiest way to stay in touch with your current patients is through email. Update your patients on what’s new in the office, new procedures, as well as promotions going on.

Social Media Posts

Get active on social media by posting interesting and compelling posts on your social media platforms. You will reach more of your patients who are not opening emails but are following you.


This texting marketing channel works well, and you get an instant result but use wisely. Only text patients who have consented to receiving text messages and allow them to opt out.

Patient Survey

Check in with your patients at least annually to get their feedback using a survey. They will tell you where you are missing the mark so you can address it now, before you lose any more patients because of it.

Cross Promote ALL Services

The easiest decision for your cosmetic patients to make is the one made AFTER their initial decision to choose you for cosmetic rejuvenation so be sure to cross promote ALL of cosmetic services.

Fill up digital photo frames showing off your results while educating your visiting patients on all you offer.

Patient Reviews

What others say about you is infinitely more important than what you say about you. Set up a process to encourage your patients to give you reviews so other prospective patients also choose you.

Google Reviews for Plastic Surgeons

Patient Webinars

Patients webinars are a great way to stay in touch with your patients. Tell them what’s new in the world of cosmetic rejuvenation. Show lots off before/after photos and include a Q&A session so their questions get answered. This makes them more likely to go the next step which is to schedule a consultation.

Patient Webinar for Plastic Surgery

Patient Retention and Loyalty Program

In today’s competitive world, it’s smart to do everything humanly possible to attract a new patient to you and then KEEP them for the long run.

However, our industry has been fairly commoditized, but you don’t want to compete on price. Instead, offer a better patient experience and reward them for returning, referring and reviewing WITHOUT discounting.

Cosmetic patients love to be rewarded for their loyalty. These loyalty stats indicate:

  • 58.7% of consumers believe earning rewards and loyalty points is one of the most valued aspects of the shopping experience.
  • 75% of consumers say they favor companies that offer rewards.

There are several loyalty programs available but most of them fall flat for a variety of reasons:

  • They are too complicated for the patients to understand and get excited about
  • The staff is confused by all the rules involved
  • They are poorly marketed, so they fizzle out from lack of engagement

Please be sure you choose a loyalty program that is easy for your staff to implement and your patients are eager to participate in.

Plastic Surgery Loyalty Program

The point is to spend as much time building your practice from the inside out with patients who know, like and trust you as you do to attract new stranger Internet patients.

So now that you know more, do you want a cosmetic patient one time or for a lifetime?

Please say lifetime 😉

Click here for all the strategies for Plastic Surgery Marketing: What’s Working Now.

catherine-maley-book- 1


A Complete Guide to Understanding Your Aesthetic Patient and Growing Your Aesthetic Practice. Catherine Maley, MBA went straight to the aesthetic patient to get the answers you need to succeed with your patients.


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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.

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