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Synergistic Practices - Primary Care and Aesthetic Medicine

Updated: Oct 22, 2020

The steadily rising number of cosmetic/aesthetic procedures performed in the United States, which grew by nearly a quarter million from 2017 to 2018, continues to rise as advancements in technology, increased availability and accessibility of treatment, as well as a social media-driven de-stigmatization of plastic surgery influence consumer demands. Expenditure on cosmetic plastic surgery exceeded $16.5 billion last year, and current estimates predict the global industry will surge to a valuation of $40 billion by 2023. With the help of growing technologic advances, social media and personal time constraints it’s becoming apparent that a natural integration of non-invasive aesthetic procedures with primary care medicine is necessary. In fact, it is already commonplace as less and less patients are opting for surgical procedures with their prolonged downtime and potential complications, and are looking towards the non-invasive or minimally invasive route to achieve satisfactory and safe end results.

In light of dramatically increasing patient spending on and demand of cosmetic/ aesthetic procedures – of which there were 17.7 million in 2018 – the industry of aesthetic medicine required a helping hand. Researchers point to primary care as the probable partner to plastic surgeons and cosmetic specialists, with a growing trend of physicians adopting Botox injections, chemical peel treatments, Radiofrequency, Intense Pulse Light and Fractional Laser treatments into their practice.

Noticing the rise in expenditure and prevalence, primary care physicians have already begun incorporating aesthetic procedures into their service offerings. Similarly trained colleagues including myself, for example, leveraged their board certifications and prior training (procedure oriented) in Emergency Medicine; ABEM & NBPS to integrate aesthetic medicine into their present Primary Care practices. Incorporating both comprehensive medical services, such as blood pressure and cholesterol management, and aesthetic procedures, including laser hair removal, IPL pigment and wrinkle reduction, Laser scar removal, Radiofrequency micro-needling, lipolysis (fat removal) treatments and skin rejuvenation and resurfacing along with proper skin care. This allows Primary care practices to functions as both a medical clinic and aesthetics service. After all the skin represents the bodies largest organ thus should be well cared for particularly as we age.

Motivated by the growing patient demand, primary care practices are steadily adapting to a unconventional model of aesthetic medicine. ”Traditionally physicians have stayed in practices that are within their specialties,” “With the increased popularity of non-surgical aesthetic skin procedures such as injecting neuromodulators such as Botox and dermal hyaluronic fillers, more and more medical providers in other specialties than dermatology and plastic surgery became interested and trained in providing these services for their patients.” Also tied to this has been the tremendous growth in technology on the non-ablative side. Surgery causes downtime while these technologies can be performed over one’s lunch break.

Providing both primary care and aesthetic procedures can benefit both patients and physicians as many of patients who initially come to see a provider for either medical or aesthetic care ultimately end up getting both as they build a trusting relationship with the provider.

Financial pressure from overhead for primary care practices, stagnating income for primary care medicine practitioners, and the growing burden of age-related disease is another factor contributing to the rise of cross-specialty practices. In addition to boosting the patient database, adding aesthetic solutions to a medical practice can generate new revenue and alleviate financial pressure as evidenced by the sheer popularity of such procedures. Properly scheduled the aesthetic revenue can open the physician to spend more time with his primary patients and not less.

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