Four Reasons Why Cheap Aesthetic Treatments Are A Bad Idea


groupon ad montage

Groupon is one place where you find an
abundance of cheap laser treatments
– but is this in the patient’s best interests?

As a practicing aesthetic physician (or cosmetic doctor, which is the preferred term in the US), I am often approached by patients who are unhappy about the cost of aesthetic treatments we offer. Laser hair removal is an especially contentious market – there are so many players out there, offering a whole range of different modalities for hair removal, and it is especially hard for patients to understand what makes the price so varied in what is essentially the same service.

Laser treatments adhere especially well to the old adage “good things don’t come cheap, and cheap things are no good.” Here’s why:

1. Standards of Service

When you go to a high end restaurant, you expect a certain level of service. There is a maitre’d or manager who is there to coordinate everything just as an orchestral conductor does. The wait staff are courteous, well-informed and helpful. The chef is often famous, well-trained and well-respected by his peers in his field. Of course, these standards of service are seen usually only at the most expensive and exclusive eateries.

Like the restaurant business, aesthetic treatments belong to the service industry. Similarly, aesthetic treatments come at a high price when the standard of service is set high. Professional medical qualification, aesthetic medical specialisation and equipment-specific training are just some of the costs a doctor will incur, and that doesn’t include properly trained staff, which are one of the key components of a professional medical facility.

“Don’t expect to pay economy class rates if you want first class service.”

 If you don’t care if the person who is operating the laser is qualified, well-trained and experienced; if it doesn’t matter if the rooms in which you are to be treated will be sanitary and comfortable; and if you aren’t concerned with the efficacy, safety and reliability of the equipment you are being treated with, then you will be happy with cheap laser treatments. I wonder if any of the patients who demand discounts would ever do the same at a fancy restaurant.

2. Professional Service

A professional, as the term implies, is someone who has put in a lot of time, money and effort into mastering his skill at his chosen profession, with the view to marketing his unique ability for the benefit of others.

 Any doctor who offers any service, be it a botox injection or a chemical peel or a laser rejuvenation treatment, will do so with his reputation and professional licence on the line. He risks his good name with every patient who leaves his office. As everyone knows, good news travels fast, but bad news surfs the internet!

That’s why someone who is in it for the long-haul will renovate his premises to accommodate his aesthetic practice, and invest a lot of time in research, seminars and training, as well as take the time to hone and perfect his skills.
Comparitively, establishments that offer bargain basement aesthetic treatments with wildly exorbitant claims rely not on professional reputation and experience, but depend on these cheap treatments to attract their clientele. I don’t know which is worse: the salons that offer cheap and often unethical – and sometimes unlawful – treatments. or the unwise, gullible people who answer their ads.

3. Cost of Equipment
You wouldn’t think it, but the cost of laser equipment can vary vastly from one to another, from top end machinery that sell for the price of a Mercedes, to those that cost about the same as a scooter.

A doctor who is serious about growing his aesthetic business will invest in professional, clinically tested and health-ministry approved equipment. The best machines, from the US, Europe and some from Korea, must be from companies with proven track records, backup service and who have done the R&D to ensure their products are safe, reliable and with properly designed guidelines of usage. All these add up to make the costs of machinery very expensive indeed.

The prohibitive cost of lasers means that doctors often turn to hire purchase companies to afford them, and this also adds to the cost of end user treatments. Add to this the costs of consumables and extra equipment that some machines require for their operation, and you can begin to understand the costs of treatments at aesthetic clinics.

The beauty salons who offer hair removal at supermarket prices can afford to do so because they buy China-made machines, which cost as low as USD1000 – USD5000 each on Like a hundred dollar replica of an actual LV bag, you can never expect to get the same results and satisfaction from these machines compared to true professional equipment.

Patients will have to decide if the risk of complications are
worth the discounts with cheap aesthetic treatments. 

4. Quality Over Quantity

Some aesthetic clinics choose to offer cheap services and heavily discounted packages as a way of attracting patients, but they sacrifice the attention to detail, individualised service and commitment levels of a doctor who is truly dedicated to his craft. If a doctor charges USD100 per patient, he may only need to see 10 patients a day, and be able to spend more time with each. Someone charging USD20 per patient will need to see 50 patients so that he can recoup his expenses. The level of service patients at either spectrum receive of course differ, due to the time constraints and patient demands on the doctor.

When a patient is focused on minimising cost, a doctor cannot spend the time and effort necessary to give a truly optimised treatment. And unlike a cheap pair of shoes that can be discarded when they pinch your feet, a poor aesthetic treatment can cost you much more if a repair job needs to be done.

Just as doctors must maintain a certain fee for treatment due to the high costs involved in setting up and maintenance of an proper aesthetic establishment, so too must they adhere to market rules and adjust their prices so patients will still feel happy to come to them. So, most doctors are happy to offer reasonable prices, commensurate with the treatment offered. Just don’t expect to pay economy class rates if you want first class service!

CosMed, MD

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