Summary: Every once in a while—but not terribly rarely—news comes around of a national cosmetic surgery chain unexpectedly closing up shop. This seems be happening more and more—yet, cosmetic surgery as a national trend is surging in popularity. So where’s the disconnect? Turns out, patients want their Los Angeles cosmetic surgery clinic to be local—and the same is true all across the nation. Plastic surgeon relationships are among the most important aspects of the process to patients—they want to feel like a part of the team.

Cementing Your Plastic Surgeon Relationship Status

There’s been a seismic shift in the economic marketplace of America over the past decade or so. You’ve seen this in the amount of stress traditional retail powerhouses such as Best Buy and Target have been under since the advent of Amazon. Why struggle to get to the store when you can shop from the comfort of your own home? And that emphasis on comfort has seeped into other industries. Now, no one is suggesting that you can get plastic surgery in your pajamas. You’re actually in a gown when you get plastic surgery, I guess—but that’s not what I mean. And yes, you do shop for plastic surgery in your PJs, as many people decide on a surgeon based on what they see on the internet.

What I’m saying is that, eventually, if you want the process to move forward, you have to go in and talk to a doctor. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t an element of choice. Indeed, it seems that there are two basic approaches to plastic surgery clinics. The first is the chain approach—grafted, if you will, from the Best Buy or Target big-box store philosophy. You see these in the forms of big, national, plastic surgery brands. These national chains—with hundreds of locations—are generally able to offer procedures at a slight discount. Part of their profit comes from the sheer scale of the operation.

The Weakness of National Chains

But therein also lies the weakness of these national chains. By definition these national chains can lack the personal touch. And, as it turns out, the personal touch is precisely what patients are largely looking for, in the form of a personal relationship with his or her plastic surgeon. One need only look at the sudden collapse of Lifestyle Lift—which offered facelift procedures in what is ultimately a very favorable environment—as evidence. Or, one could look back at American Laser Skincare, which closed suddenly late last year.

Around the country, these large national chains are closing up shop. And that’s leaving some patients in the lurch, unfortunately. This unfortunate turn for national chains seems perplexing at a time when plastic surgery procedures generally are booming. Year after year, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports an increase in overall procedures performed. So why are these national chains—these plastic surgery big box centers—failing?

The Strength of Local Clinics

Well, it turns out that many patients do not enjoy the big box feel when it comes to their own plastic surgery experience. Patients aren’t looking for, essentially, a scalpel-toting robot or an automated process (we’re not saying that all big box chains are impersonal—only that they often appear or feel that way and that they certainly appear that way to potential patients). The local plastic surgeon or cosmetic surgeon—the one with the local marketing, the local feel, is the one who patients seem to prefer these days.

The reason for that is, simply, patients feel more comfortable building a personal relationship with their plastic surgeons. A plastic surgeon relationship with his or her patients should be absolutely professional, yes, but many patients are also looking for a personal touch—a sense of care and concern in the well-being of the patient. In other words, I think many patients are afraid of being treated like a financial resource. That is, they don’t want to undergo unnecessary procedures simply to pad the surgeon’s bottom line.

A Happy Patient is a Satisfied Patient

My sense is that patients feel as though they are less likely to be sold a procedure when they have this plastic surgeon relationship on a more personable level. Of course, plastic surgeons should make sure to keep any and all relationships ethics (just a side note, there). But, let’s put it this way: everyone wants to drink at Cheers, right? They want to go where everybody knows your name. The same is true with plastic surgery. Patients want to go somewhere that they feel known, appreciate, and taken care of.

This isn’t to say that patients don’t get quality care at national chains. At the end of the day, we’re talking more about perceptions than reality. Because, of course, your local cosmetic surgeon might upsell you where a national chain won’t. But so much of good cosmetic surgery is about making the patient feel comfortable. This seems to be an area where the local businesses have an edge, because—if the latest closures are any indication—patients feel more comfortable with their local cosmetic surgeon.

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