August 05, 2013
2 min read

BLOG: Facial aesthetics: A great service to patients and addition to your practice

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Read more blog posts from John A. Hovanesian, MD, FACS

Many busy general ophthalmologists might hesitate to begin offering Botox, dermal fillers and cosmetic eyelid surgery to their patients because we are already occupied with the core offerings of our practice such as cataract surgery, glaucoma treatment, etc.

This is understandable because cosmetic patients take additional time, have additional demands. It also is a burden to learn these new techniques. By hesitating in this regard though, we are missing out on offering a service that many of our patients would really benefit from.

​Here are three options for adding these services that don’t require you, the general ophthalmologist, to alter your personal practice significantly:

1. Hire an associate. This option is probably best for larger practices that have enough volume to support a full-time or nearly full-time colleague. Like hiring any associate, it requires more rigorous restructuring of your practice, but it also offers the highest availability to patients, since a full-time, in-house doctor will be eager to build his practice by making his services known to patients.

2. Hire an itinerant surgeon. Across the country there are many oculoplastics-trained specialists who travel from practice to practice spending one or two days a week seeing pre-selected patients for cosmetic and functional plastics services. Generally, all of the scheduling and billing functions of these doctors are run through the practice’s own systems, and the specialist is paid a percentage of the fees – often in the ballpark of 50% of fees collected. Depending on the personality of the oculoplastic specialist and the demand for his or her services, this can be a great fit for smaller practices who are not ready to hire a full-time person or commit to a long-term relationship with a new doctor. Growth of the itinerant surgeon’s practice will depend primarily on promotion done by the practice itself, so growth may be somewhat limited.

3. Partner with a local colleague. In your community there may be a qualified, practiced surgeon whose practice is less busy than desired, and he or she may be very happy to rent space in your office, seeing patients you refer for services. While this offers some disadvantages to the plastics specialist (additional rent, the inconvenience of having to work out of a different location) it certainly brings him referrals that he might otherwise not see. Additionally, it provides a new offering to the ophthalmologist's patients and generates revenue from underutilized office space.

Patients in will appreciate you offering additional facial aesthetic services they want in a doctor’s office where they have already feel trust and confidence.

However you choose to approach it, offering cosmetic services to your interested patients can be a very gratifying way to grow your practice and create a deeper relationship between your patients and your established ophthalmology practice.