By Alex R. Thiersch, JD, CEO of the American Med Spa Association (AmSpa)
The medical aesthetic industry is all about buzz. A treatment that’s hot one day can be passé the next, and keeping tuned into the buzz around the industry is the only way to keep track of what’s what. There are a few terms that you’re likely to come across again and again, however, and understanding why people are talking about them is a key to maintaining a successful practice. Here are a handful of the buzzwords we’re encountering regularly, what you need to know about them, and how you can harness their power.
Historically, medical aesthetics have been associated with fast, easy solutions rather than lasting change, but, in recent years, the mantra of wellness has become a key part of the industry. Today, it’s not enough to simply look good; you must also be healthy, so a holistic approach to self-care has become a part of many aesthetic regimens.
Wellness is a concept that informs many of the other terms we’re going to cover here. Generally speaking, there is a bit of a stigma attached to “quick-fix” solutions for aesthetic issues, so many practices have begun offering more natural, organic solutions and encouraging more comprehensive views of patients’ overall health. After all, no medical spa wants to be featured as part of an exposé on botched aesthetic procedures, and the chances of that increase if your practice uses a lot of harsh chemicals and complicated treatments.
What’s more, a healthy body helps contribute to a healthy mind, and those with healthy minds are less likely to cause problems for your medical spa with unfair expectations and difficult-to-address social media reviews.
The concept of rejuvenation is a powerful one for medical aesthetic practices, as it suggests that those who partake of aesthetic treatments can recapture aspects of their youth they thought were gone forever. This is a powerful impression, and successful medical spas are able to leverage it to attract customers who are not entirely happy with their appearance or physical health.
Of course, this term is also now commonly associated with vaginal rejuvenation, a very popular treatment that has attracted a lot of attention to the medical aesthetic industry in recent years, particularly after the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a statement in October 2018 addressing the use of unapproved laser equipment for the procedure. Despite this warning, the market for this treatment continues to be robust.
This is a loaded term. Obviously, everyone is subject to aging—after all, we all do it every minute of every day. However, medical aesthetic practices, drug manufacturers and device manufacturers use this term to insinuate that their offerings can be used to combat this process, and the suggestion that such a thing is possible is an extremely attractive proposition for those who don’t like what they see in the mirror.
Realistically, though, this term only covers the signs of aging, so it’s a bit misleading when employed as it commonly is. It remains a powerful buzzword in the medical aesthetic industry, however, and as the wealthy Boomer population continues to age, it’s going to keep bringing business through medical spas’ doors.
As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This buzzword suggests to prospective customers that the medical aesthetic treatment being advertised can help thwart future problems. Again, this is an attractive concept, both for patients who are conscientious about their appearance and for practices that stand to make money from said patients for treatments they don’t immediately need. That’s not to say that these treatments aren’t useful—to the contrary, they provide tangible benefits over time and a are part of a well-rounded aesthetic care regimen. Over time, it’s more beneficial and cheaper for patients to engage in preventive care instead of waiting for problems to emerge.
Along the same lines, prevention is a key concept when it comes to medical spa legal compliance. It is significantly less expensive to implement proper protocols and procedures at the beginning of a medical aesthetic practice’s existence than it is to correct issues after they are uncovered by a regulatory agency. It’s also a good idea to get into the habit of compliance as soon as possible, since it is a significant part of a practice’s existence.
The term “non-invasive” gets to the heart of the appeal of the medical aesthetic industry. The treatments provided to medical spa patients produce visible, often lasting results without the need for painful, expensive surgeries that require prolonged periods of recovery. The term also suggests a certain convenience—medical aesthetic treatments are non-invasive in terms of the amount of time spent at the practice, as well. A patient can typically pop into a med spa, receive a treatment, and continue on with his or her day.
Although plastic surgeons have historically been key parts of the medical aesthetic industry, the non-invasive nature of medical spa treatments typically makes them much more appealing than surgery to the average consumer. As such, practices likely will benefit from using this term in their marketing materials.
Nobody wants toxic things on or inside them, obviously, so the promise of removing these harmful elements is extremely appealing. As a result, the term “detoxify” is widely used in the medical aesthetic industry, and is effective at convincing people to undergo treatments provided by medical spas. Along the same lines, the term “cleanse” helps patients see that these treatments can help them become healthier and remove detrimental influences on their bodies. From a psychological standpoint, these are extremely powerful suggestions, and they can (and should) also be reflected in a medical spa’s design and layout—a practice should always be clean and inviting, so as to reinforce that it is a place where such things are valued. In maintaining your practice properly, you tell your clients that you are serious about all aspects of wellness.
If you tell a patient that you’re going to restore their appearance, you’re telling them that you can bring back something they thought they’d lost. Again, this is a powerful idea, and that’s why the term is so widely used in the industry. If you can restore the way a person looked in the past, perhaps you can restore the way they felt back then, as well—or at least that’s the implication. It speaks to the power of medical aesthetic treatments and helps to attract new customers to medical spas.
Again, the use of terms such as “youth,” “young” and “younger” reflects a desire on the part of medical spa patients to recover some of the vitality they’ve lost over the years. This is particularly true for Baby Boomers, who have the money to spend on procedures such as these and the time to become active again, since many are nearing or entering their retirement years. During this time in their lives, people encounter numerous milestones that suggest to them that their best years are behind them, and many are taking steps to combat that sentiment. Because of this, boomers are helping to drive the medical aesthetic industry revenues, and tapping into their desire to feel young again can help your practice develop new customers.
People want to believe that damage can be repaired. If you wreck your car, you keep telling yourself that it’s not that bad and that it can be fixed—at least until the mechanic tells you that it’s totaled. That sort of optimism can also be leveraged in medical aesthetics, even if the “damage” isn’t particularly severe. (Severe damage will probably require the skills of a plastic surgeon.) This term can be used to promote procedures such as tattoo removal and microdermabrasion, as well as a number of more conventional aesthetic treatments.
Market the Buzz
Language is a powerful tool in marketing, and learning how to leverage buzzwords such as these will help you maximize your medical aesthetic practice’s business. As you can see, a lot of this amounts to offering clients idealized versions of themselves, and as long as you can provide them a means to do that once you get them in the door, your practice stands to benefit from their patronage. Using these terms taps into people’s desires to recapture—or prolong—their glory days and to look as good as they feel, and this is something that medical spas can provide quickly, conveniently, and generally without complications. Understand who you are marketing to and what they want, and you’ll find yourself with a thriving medical aesthetic practice.
To learn more about legal and business best practices to keep your med spa compliant and profitable, attend one of AmSpa’s Medical Spa & Aesthetic Boot Camps and become the next med spa success story.