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Incorporate a new simple procedure to create a pipeline of patients

Article-Incorporate a new simple procedure to create a pipeline of patients

Key iconKey Points

  • Glycolic acid peels are a low-cost service offering to forge long-term patient relationships.
  • Chemical peeling is something physicians may want to consider adding to their practice, both to increase practice income and patient satisfaction.

Economy got you down? One N.J.-based husband and wife team have a quick and easy procedure that can help you to create a pipeline of patients for life.

Glycolic acid peels are a low-cost service offering that Sigmund L. Sattenspiel, M.D., P.A., F.A.C.S., and Candy Langan, R.N., have used to forge long-term patient relationships. By delivering visible results at a reasonable price, they've quite literally ensured regular "face time" with patients. This kind of continuum of care can span the lean years, building loyalty that can pay off once patients feel more fiscally at ease and able to opt for more involved procedures.

"Candy researched all the chemistry and physiology, and then developed a program for superficial skin resurfacing employing glycolic acid. It's basically a substance that is unbuffered with a low pH," says Dr. Sattenspiel, who specializes in facial plastic and cosmetic surgery in Freehold, N.J.

Staff training and practice costs are minimal, and patients are quickly in and out of the office, so surgeons have nothing to lose and everything to gain, the couple say. They charge a total of $250 for the first three procedures, then $75 per visit every four to six weeks thereafter. The office also dispenses glycolic acid skin care products for the patients' use at home and instructs patients to apply a leave-on glycolic acid product twice daily.

"The actual process takes about 10 to 15 minutes, and I can show the physician how to do this for little more than a dollar. But the benefits to the practice, as well as the patients, are amazing," says Ms. Langan, who created a special formulation of glycolic acid. "We actually have the same patients coming back every four weeks for almost 20 years. Why? Because if the acid is formulated correctly, it's not a gimmick."

RESULTS AND BENEFITS "I strongly believe that chemical peeling is something that cosmetic physicians should consider adding to their practice, both to increase practice income and patient satisfaction," concurs Jennifer Linder, M.D., a dermatologist and Mohs skin cancer surgeon in private practice in Scottsdale, Ariz.

"Glycolic was the first to gain in popularity due in part to the thought process that, because of its small molecular size, it would penetrate the fastest and be most effective," she says. "However, this quick penetration is the reason for the redness and irritation common with glycolic acid peels."

A better choice, in Dr. Linder's experience, is lactic acid. It exhibits the same desmosome-releasing action, while nourishing the skin with increased hydration and reducing irritation, as a result of its larger molecular size and slower penetration.

Interestingly, she adds, lactic acid also helps control hyperpigmentation, as it suppresses the formation of tyrosinase (the enzyme responsible for launching the cascade that leads to pigment deposit).

"The best options are peels containing a blend of several acids and other nutritive and skin-strengthening ingredients," Dr. Linder advises.

SATISFIED PATIENTS Dr. Sattenspiel and his wife encourage other practitioners to try their method and open their doors to other doctors and their staffs to visit and learn how to most effectively introduce the glycolic peel system to their patients.

"In our 20 years' experience with superficial glycolic peeling, we've developed a very large medical skin care practice with many truly satisfied patients," Dr. Sattenspiel says. "Remember, your patients want to look as good as they can for as long as they can."

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