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Never say these 5 things to your cosmetic patients

Article-Never say these 5 things to your cosmetic patients

Seemingly simple statements can change the dynamics between physicians who perform cosmetic procedures and their patients. We reached out to doctors who treat cosmetic patients and asked them what they’ve learned never to say. These are their responses.

1.“You need..."

Aesthetic dermatologist S. Manjula Jegasothy, M.D., founder of Miami Skin Institute, Miami, Fla., says she would never tell patients they need certain procedures.

“Let the patient do the talking first, and let them tell you about what bothers them about their face and/or body. If they ask you for an overall consult, still be gentle. Give them a mirror and ‘feel out’ what it is they want to discuss before you charge ahead,” Dr. Jegasothy says.


2. “Yes”

Beverly Hills dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse, M.D., a clinical Instructor at the University of Southern California, says she doesn’t answer with a “yes,” when patients ask if they need anything to look younger.

“When most women ask this question, they are coming from a place of insecurity and self-scrutiny, after comparing themselves to the models in the waiting room magazines, TV personalities and the advertisements for procedures and products placed throughout the office,” Dr. Shainhouse says. “I always answer that they do not need anything. But, if there is something that is bothering you, let’s look in the mirror and show me what that is, and the effect that you would like to achieve from treatment. From there, we can discuss various treatment plans.”


3. “It’s not so bad”

You might think you’re helping a patient with cosmetic concerns when you say, “It’s not so bad,” but that’s not always the case, according to Dr. Shainhouse.

“What might look like something mild and minor from a textbook or professional, experiential perspective, can be severe and life-altering for a patient,” she says. “As doctors, we can't fully understand a patient's physical, emotional and sensory experience. Instead of labeling their experience for them, ask them how they would grade their symptoms and what their goals of treatment are.


4. "I can erase your wrinkles"

Cosmetic dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi, M.D., founder and director of Capital Laser and Skin Care and clinical professor of dermatology at the George Washington Medical Center, Washington, DC, says she never tells a patient she can ‘erase’ wrinkles or scars completely. She makes sure to say that maintenance treatments are almost always required depending on the procedures being done.

“It’s critical to establish realistic expectations with the results, number of treatments, required downtime, etc. before initiating treatments, so the patient can make an informed decision about whether or not to pursue,” Dr. Tanzi says. 


"Let's paralyze your crow's feet”

Physicians’ descriptions of cosmetic procedures and issues can impact how patients view those procedures and themselves, according to Charles E. Crutchfield III, M.D., clinical professor of dermatology, University of Minnesota Medical School, and medical director of Crutchfield Dermatology, in Eagan, Minn.

A few examples: Dr. Crutchfield says he never tells a patient that Botox paralyzes muscles.

“I say it gently and temporarily relaxes muscles,” he says. “I never refer to the lines around the eyes as crow’s feet. I always call them smile lines.” 

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