Avoiding The Discount Trap In 2019

I originally wrote this post in mid 2015 and thought it was due for an update as my circumstances have certainly changed (Youth Lab was simply a dream back in those days) but the content has never been more accurate. I hope this is an informative read, enjoy.

I will be the first to admit that I love a good bargain, who doesn’t. 

Prior to opening Youth Lab I have had my cosmetic treatments (such as anti-wrinkle injections , dermal fillers, laser treatments and so on) from many wonderful doctors and nurses both in Perth and overseas, however I have never been tempted at the deals floating around cosmetic clinics offering discounted cosmetic treatments.

Why? Because I simply don’t trust them.

The cosmetic medical industry is competitive and patients are spoilt for choice in who they can see for the treatment of their fine lines, wrinkles, skin and other cosmetic concerns. Discounted treatments are one of many marketing tools clinics and practitioners use to attract new clients.

I am a firm believer that this is a slippery slope right to the bottom. Shopping around for aesthetic procedures is not like shopping for a dress or pair of shoes. When it comes to medical procedures,  offering majorly discounted specials or ‘Scoupon’ deals on wrinkle relaxers and dermal fillers is irresponsible. Of course I acknowledge it is a business, so some low key specials and discounts are not the issue.

So why do some clinics and doctors charge more and some less? Why do some clinics offer amazing specials on cosmetic injectables every week and others have stable prices?

I’ll deep dive into this below.


"When it comes to your face, your body and your health I am a strong believer that we should invest and use high quality, evidence based and safe products or procedures"


THE CONSULTATION

The first step in establishing value and ascertaining if the clinic or practitioner is ethical, knowledgeable and will deliver optimal results is in the consultation process.

As a potential patient you should be assertive and know exactly what a cosmetic physician (or in some cases a cosmetic nurse) is injecting into your face. In my opinion you should always have a consultation with a doctor before any treatment is performed.  As a patient you should be offered all available treatment modalities and work with the doctor in establishing a treatment plan tailored to your individual concerns and desired outcome.

You should not feel rushed or pressured.

During my training in aesthetics I have come to realise that not everything is in my scope of practice. I am not a surgeon and will therefore not attempt to correct any concerns with an invasive procedure. Nor will I offer a non-surgical option that simply will not deliver results.

When you come for a consultation at Youth Lab you are guaranteed to receive an honest and educated opinion following a full medical consultation and facial assessment. Sometimes that may not be what you want to hear, but it will save both dollars and disappointment long term. As an ethical doctor I will always refer to a plastic surgeon for example, rather than pocket my patients hard earned dollars by performing a procedure I know wont have the best aesthetic results.

The consultation process is essential for all cosmetic procedures and a differentiating factor between many clinics. How is your doctor to know what your desired outcome or goals are if they haven’t taken the time to sit down and discuss your concerns, get to know you, understand your medical history and take clinical photographs to document your results?

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THE PREMiseS

Prices vary between clinics themselves - from high end boutique clinics to chain stores in the shopping centre. Obviously you will expect to pay a higher fee at a clinic that has invested in the client experience, has a luxurious and welcoming environment, follows health department regulations in terms of cleanliness and offers emergency equipment. Compare this with a small room in a franchise clinic with lower overheads and less focus on patient care combined with shorter appointment times (to fit in more paying patients each day).

Some practitioners can keep overheads low by being mobile and visiting clinics which is another model that can work well to keep costs down for a doctor. A mobile clinic (as long as they are performing treatments in the right environment such as a dermal therapy clinic or medical office) can be a good way to offer competitive prices to patients. In terms of premises, it comes down to patient preference and what they value in terms of experience.

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THE PRICE

Price is a huge motivating factor for many patients. It should not be the deciding factor as to whether a treatment is performed or not. Cosmetic medicine has become heavily commoditised and commercialised, however these treatments still need to be thought of as medical procedures.

Would you question the cost of your GP visit? Maybe but you would also value their time and expertise.

Would you ask your doctor to their face to only cure symptoms within a certain budget? Probably not.

In most cases Cosmetic Physicians and nurses have undergone rigorous and expensive training to improve their skills and train in a sub-specialty such as aesthetic medicine. They are health practitioners and have the ultimate goal of patient safety and satisfaction.

Cost should come secondary to value. If you are a patient seeking a warm and safe experience in a responsible clinic with highly trained practitioners then expect to pay more. Simple as that. If those things do not matter, then see a chain clinic however you will run a higher risk of unsatisfactory results and little therapeutic relationship between you and your injector. These chain business models don’t account for much in the way of therapeutic relationships.

For example, think about those clinics that offer a deal of ‘$x for area x” how do you know how much wrinkle relaxer you are getting?

In order to cover costs the amount of wrinkle relaxer for treatment of this area would have been pre-defined. Thus you could be getting very under treated (not enough units to have an effect) or if you only had very mild dynamic lines you could be getting over treated and walk out with a frozen expression. There is a big difference in the amount of wrinkle relaxer needed in a 25 year old woman versus a 65 year old man. This creates confusion, an inability to monitor results and poor treatment planning.

Have a look at my last blog post to learn about wrinkle relaxers and dermal fillers.

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THE PRODUCT

If I could have a dollar for every time I saw ‘premium filler’ advertised I would be able to retire. What is premium filler? As someone who injects filler every day I have no idea. Every clinic seems to be advertising this as their product, but I know that many of these clinics all use different suppliers and brands. So what gives?

Look past the clever marketing. Product does matter in terms of results but certainly not as much as the skills, training and knowledge of your injector. An excellent cosmetic physician can delivery reproducible results with a wide range of fillers from different companies.

Some cosmetic injectables will cost more due to the higher quality of the product and the cost to the clinic to purchase them. There are some incredible products on the market but also some very poor products (tip - these are often the ones advertised at very low costs).

Regardless, it is important to always know what brand or type of product your clinic uses and in what amount. It is a red flag if the clinic or doctor is not transparent or open in offering you this information. If this information is not made available to you then it is probably best to walk away.

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LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS

There are strict advertising guidelines that cosmetic physicians and clinics must follow in Australia as well as health department regulations. For example, seeing a practitioner at home in a non-clinical environment, whilst it may be cheaper, it is also against every possible medical board regulation and is completely unethical.

It is also illegal in Australia for clinics and practitioners to offer time limited 'specials' in advertising for medical treatments such as anti-wrinkle injections and fillers. I see this all the time on social media - special for lips this month, anti-wrinkle $x this week only for example.

Clinics that disregard these regulations and heavily push discounted injectable treatments to get you through the door should probably raise some ethical concerns.

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personal VIEW

I am passionate about safety and ethics in cosmetic medicine, so here are a few pieces of wisdom, if you find yourself tempted with a deal from a medispa or a clinic for wrinkle relaxers or dermal fillers just ask yourself two questions:

1.     Is there a doctor on the premises? A doctor needs to prescribe the treatment (they are prescription medications) however this does not mean they are present during your treatment if they are prescribing for a nurse injector.

That is OK as a doctor only needs to be present for the consultation. However if there is no doctor on site (in the clinic) I would see this as a red flag. If the doctor is in another state - then it is probably best to walk away. These are medical procedures and although complications are rare, I would not feel comfortable knowing there is not a doctor nearby.

2.      If there is a doctor present or administering the procedures, what are their qualifications? The laws in Australia are quite variable in regards to post graduate specialist training for cosmetic medicine. I actually trained in anti-wrinkle injections when I was an intern (aka a baby doctor only a few months out of medical school) and there was nothing stopping me opening my own clinic and administering these procedures with little more than a few hours training. Yikes!

Luckily I was not comfortable with this and have undergone years of training both formally and informally with local and international injectors, training programs and colleges. I would suggest asking what training your injector has had, and if they are a member of a specialist college or organisation such as the Cosmetic Physicians College of Australia.

Again for peace of mind and a knowledge you are in safe hands with a doctor who is trained and passionate about facial aesthetics. Not just a doctor performing these treatments as a money spinner because they know how to use a needle.

Some ‘prescribing’ doctors have zero training in cosmetic medicine and will do Skype consults and prescribe for nurses for a fee. Although the nurse may be experienced and skilled, if something goes wrong you are then in a position where the doctor has no training to look after you.

Here at Youth Lab we pride ourselves on transparency, honesty and trust.

It doesn’t always come down to price and often chasing the discount can do more harm than good. With a highly qualified doctor, nurse and clinic you will walk out of your consultation with a defined treatment plan, knowing how much product was used and how much you will require in the future, and what complimentary treatments may be required.

You will also hopefully form a long term therapeutic relationship with your injector to work together on your cosmetic goals for many years to come.

Dr Kate x