SBMA Esthi Blog

The Dilemma For Medical Aestheticians: Patient Vs Client

Doctor with patientWith the increase in non-invasive procedures in the last few years, more people are opting to have elective cosmetic procedures done by medical aestheticians. Some of the non-invasive procedures include dermal fillers, Botox, liposuction, ultrasound treatments to stimulate collagen production, laser treatments, and chemical peels. Taking small steps with non-invasive procedures rather than surgery is a good way to maintain a youthful appearance.

Because these are elective procedures and the person is not seeking a medical diagnosis, there is now an often blurred line between viewing that person as a client and therefore a necessary source of revenue versus a patient who goes to a doctor to seek medical treatment. In the case of plastic or cosmetic surgeons they are held to the code of ethics established by the American Medical Association which says that a patient’s rights take precedence over any personal benefits the physician may receive.

On the other hand, a client will self-diagnose what procedure(s) they want to enhance a part of their body and expect treatment to achieve that desired outcome. Nonetheless, even though the client has made a diagnosis, it is still the responsibility of the physician to determine if the diagnosis and requested procedure is in the client’s best interest. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

 Nevertheless, some physicians feel pressured to proceed with a procedure whether or not they feel it will have the desired effect. If the procedure’s risk outweighs the benefit, it is the responsibility of the physician to refuse the surgery.

Millions of non-invasive procedures and billions of dollars are spent on elective cosmetic surgery each year which is why many cosmetic and plastic surgeons are increasingly offering non-invasive cosmetic procedures along with traditional face-lifts. Because most cosmetic procedures, invasive or non-invasive, are not covered by insurance, this makes them more profitable. Because surgeons often see the same person many times for different procedures, many patients become clients paying for the elective cosmetic surgeries at their discretion rather than the physician’s.

Every physician has the responsibility to view a person as a patient first and their best interest is the primary concern for the physician. They are a patient first and client second. In viewing the person as a patient, there is a level of trust established. Once that bond is established the surgeon can determine the different needs and treatments which will determine whether that person is a patient or client. It is therefore the responsibility of the physician to weigh the cost of doing business with ethical concerns which takes precedent over profits.

For a medical aesthetics business, knowing the difference between a patient and client is essential in determining the different needs of patients versus clients.