Women are the world's most powerful consumer market, driving 70-80 percent of all consumer spending—including healthcare decisions—with their buying power and influence.1 According to The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, women undergo more than 90 percent of all cosmetic procedures.2 Women are, and will continue to be, the dominant patients for the industry, which means earning their long-term loyalty is the key to maintaining a thriving practice. One challenge in building long-term patient relationships is that many women may be introduced to aesthetic services for short-term reasons: a major life event or milestone.

Practices that transition milestone-driven “one-time” patients into lifelong (happy) patients may increase their ability to retain a robust and healthy practice over the long term. So what's the most effective way to do so?

First, it's helpful to understand the role of milestones in women's lives. As the world's primary caregivers for both children and the elderly, women often assume responsibility for managing milestones within their households, from holidays to birthdays to graduations, new home moves, new jobs, engagements and weddings, to name just a handful. These milestones are catalysts for purchasing and marketplace engagement, which is why we see so many advertisements tied to them.

Significant life milestones—like birthdays that end in a “0” or the beginning of a new chapter of life—can often be the inspiration for a patient's first visit to a practice. A patient whose catalyst is a high school reunion, for example, may not be thinking long-term about their skincare and aesthetic needs when they walk through your door for a non-invasive treatment. Milestone “moments” like these should be viewed as one of the most important opportunities you have to forge long-term patient relationships.

Proactivity is required. For example, don't assume new patients are aware of all the services and procedures your practice offers: be sure to let them know. Common sense? Yes. Common practice? Not necessarily. Everyone is pressed for time, and it's easy to skip the step of asking “discovery” questions with new patients that go beyond the treatment they're receiving that day. Simple questions such as, “While you're here, do you have any other questions for me about your skincare or appearance?,” can open up the opportunity to talk about other services that may be relevant for your patient.

Additionally, if you don't have a process for doing so already, strive to introduce every new patient to a practice partner and/or surgeon, even if they don't have an appointment with one. Being welcomed by a practice owner can help deepen the patient's connection to the practice, and make them feel valued for their business.

The goal should be that every new patient leaves your office with a vision of the possibilities for future care, and excited that they've found a partner in skincare and aesthetics—“this is my place”—that can accompany them through their life journey.

The following are just some of the milestones that serve as catalysts for treatment at Charlotte Plastic Surgery in North Carolina, where one of the authors of this article is a partner. Do you recognize these milestones? If you do, how are you leveraging them to build conversations that educate and inspire your patients, and instill long-term loyalty?

40th Birthday. A 40th birthday is a common catalyst for a “Mommy Makeover,” the term that refers to combining breast rejuvenation and abdominoplasty. Many women tell us they're interested in such options because they feel they've “completed” their families. We see women in this age group also inquire about tummy tucks and liposuction, as well as breast rejuvenation with implants, lifts, or both.

50th Birthday. Turning 50 is a major milestone that often sparks an interest in proactively maintaining energy and a youthful appearance. Many 50-year-old patients tell us they're unhappy with loose neck skin and jowls, and subsequently they're interested in face-lifting procedures. In our practice, we see that patients in this age group are also commonly interested in facial aesthetics, Botox, fillers, and eyelid and facial surgery.

60th Birthday. As life expectancy grows and people stay in the workforce longer, many 60-year-olds tell us they want to look as good as they feel, and in our experience, are primarily interested in facial aesthetics.


The goal should be that every new patient leaves your office with a vision of the possibilities for future care, and excited that they've found a partner in skincare and aesthetics—“this is my place”—that can accompany them through their life journey.

Graduation. Graduation from high school or college may be an instigator for a rhinoplasty. Graduations are often followed by a break of some duration and change in living location, which makes it possible for an individual to undergo a procedure, heal, and start the next chapter of their life in a new place, with newfound confidence.

Divorce. A marital break-up is a modern milestone that can be a catalyst for pursuing cosmetic procedures. The rates of “gray divorce” (marital break-ups over the age of 50) have increased and can lead to “reinvention” in various aspects of someone's life.

Class Reunions. Patients heading to class reunions are often particularly interested in injectables and other non-surgical procedures.

Weddings. Marriage ceremonies are a well-known driver of interest in plastic surgery and skincare procedures. Not only is the bride involved, but the parents of the bride and groom also want to look their best. In addition to skincare procedures, neuromodulators for hyperhidrosis have been effectively used to eliminate excessive perspiration on the important day. For mothers of the bride and groom, comprehensive facial rejuvenation including brow, eyes, mid face and neck are among the commonly desired offerings.

Retirement. The end of one chapter in life leads to the opening of the next. In our experience at Charlotte Plastic Surgery, we see patients who've worked all their lives express the desire to enjoy an active retirement. Maintaining a youthful appearance allows retirees to feel healthy, fit, and relevant.

Milestone to Lifetime Patients

Life's milestones are a catalyst for women's engagement in the marketplace, and that can include skincare treatments, cosmetic procedures, and plastic surgery. Understanding your patient population and being cognizant of the opportunities to provide education at these milestones puts a practice in a better position to treat each individual over the long term. Practices that can position themselves to be not only a significant part of their patients' milestone events, but their entire life journey, are likely to be rewarded for their effort.

1. Why She Buys, The New Strategy for Reaching the World's Most Powerful Consumers by Bridget Brennan (Crown Business)

2. 2016 American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery database.