What We Have Learned From the Pandemic, Part 1

Posted By Madilyn Moeller, Friday, November 5, 2021

Togetherness: people link hands to work their way up a mountain.

By Michael Meyer, Writer/Editor; and Madilyn Moeller, Editorial Assistant, American Med Spa Association

Eighteen months ago, COVID-19 emerged and changed the way people live their lives. Very quickly, "social distancing" became a familiar term, and how to wear a mask and use Zoom became a way of life. Many in medical aesthetics, and in all walks of life, also have experienced the heartbreak of losing friends and loved ones to the virus. Without question, everyone's lives are significantly different than they were before the pandemic began.

QP wanted to learn how the pandemic has affected medical aesthetics, so in this very special issue, dozens of people who work in and around the industry share what they have learned during this highly unusual time. QP spoke with physicians, nurses, physician assistants, lawyers, finance professionals, vendors, trainers and medical spa owners about how their lives and businesses have adapted—and are continuing to adapt—to the "new normal," and their insights reveal that medical aesthetics is resilient, innovative and strong.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has not yet disappeared, and new lessons are being learned every day as people come to grips with the evolution of this pandemic. However, medical aesthetics is nothing if not resourceful, and as COVID-19 continues to demand thoughtful responses to difficult problems, the industry will undoubtedly be among the first to change with the times.

"Caution and Honesty Pay Off"

Headshot of Leslie Baumann, MD

Leslie Baumann, MD
Founder, Skin Type Solutions

"We know trust is important, but COVID showed us how much. We closed on March 13, 2020, to protect our patients—a few days earlier than the rest of the country. We stayed engaged and in contact with our patients on social media; I feel this built trust. Once we were ready to re-open, our patients knew that we had taken all the precautions because we were so quick to close to protect them. The same is true of when patients were getting vaccines—we were very careful to ask about vaccinations and not perform any filler injections two weeks before or after vaccinations. Many patients had to postpone treatments, but everyone came back after being vaccinated. They appreciated that we were honest rather than trying to just make money and inject more fillers. Caution and honesty pay off. We are busier now than ever before.

"My Skin Type Solutions (STS) software business also learned a lot and changed during COVID. We went completely virtual and learned that this made us much more effective while reducing office-related expenses. We plan on staying a virtual company. We spent the pandemic helping doctors and their staffs increase online skin care consults and sales. In fact, our skin care sales increased substantially in the first month. Patients who could not see their doctor loved the option of booking a consult with their STS-participating provider at our website. Many of our physician partners have thanked us for helping them generate revenue during the pandemic. We will continue to evolve our business model to benefit our STS physician partners through use of the website to fulfill their patients' skin care refills and conduct online consults."

"Prioritizing Protocols"

Headshot of George Baxter-Holder, ARNP, DNP, CANS

George Baxter-Holder, ARNP, DNP, CANS
Director of Talent Recruiting, SkinSpirit Skincare Clinic and Spa (Austin, TX)

"As sad as it sounds, I feel like the biggest lesson that we all learned is that we could do a much better job with the way we operate a sterile or clean environment in our clinics. I found in talking with people that the new protocols around cleaning a clinic room or sanitizing a room seemed to have been above and beyond what people were normally doing. What really came out of that is we have found that we can do better in really sanitizing a room and taking care of our clients, keeping them safe and healthy.

"On the practitioner side, having better cleaning protocols is fantastic, but I know our clients appreciate what we're doing—they'e said it to me, and they'e said it to some of my colleagues as well. They come in with an expectation now. I think our clients appreciate the fact that we're focused on their health and safety, and they demonstrate that by what they say in the clinic and how accepting they are of the protocols. No one's really pushing back on the protocols, which I think is really nice.

"The other thing that came out of the pandemic is the realization that we're incredibly strong as an industry. The medical aesthetic industry was incredibly resilient through the pandemic. We bounced back bigger than we ever imagined that we would. The months after they started opening up again were some of the largest months that medical spas had experienced up until that point. I really feel like that speaks to the quality, strength and veracity of medical spas—that it's not just a fly-by-night industry and that it's a very powerful market segment in health care. I think that our clients believe that. And, certainly, the revenue numbers demonstrate that as well."

"Patient Loyalty"

Headshot of Ashley Lousie Bohling, PA-C

Ashley Louise Bohling, PA-C
Co-owner, Natural Beauty Med Spa (Chicago, IL)

"The most valuable lesson I learned during the pandemic is to have gratitude for all the clients and supporters who have followed me throughout my career. I joined Wiesman Cosmetic Surgery in August 2020, at the height of the pandemic shutdowns. At the time, I remember thinking how crazy it was to be starting over somewhere new in the middle of a global pandemic. Businesses all around me were failing. Thankfully, my clients followed me to the new location without issue, demonstrating their loyalty and faith in my talent. They were really kind and understanding throughout it all. They followed all the extra safety measures that I had to put in place so we could stay open. They waited patiently while my team sterilized rooms and didn't fuss when we weren't able to accommodate multiple patients due to social distancing requirements. I went on to have a record-breaking year and establish myself as a leader in this industry. The relationships I have with my clients are truly special to me and are what lies at the heart of my success. I am grateful that they choose me as their injector and trust me to help them achieve their most beautiful selves."

"Consults and Camouflage"

Headshot of A. Jay Burns, MD

A. Jay Burns, MD, FACS
Resurrect Skin MD (Dallas, TX)

"There are a couple of things that have been interesting about COVID's impact. I really do believe that business has never been better. People are on Zoom and FaceTime and looking at themselves on their phone, and it's amazing—patients will actually say as much. And I could see it myself—I'm about ready to have one of my partners do a little surgery on me. I just get tired of looking at my neck, and I think that's true of most of our patients. So, I'e learned that we can be creative and look at ways to do virtual consults. I'm weaving in the virtual consult, the Zoom calls and Microsoft Teams meetings for patients who are out of town. And I believe that it's been one of the few positives. It's grown our business. Also, masks have made patients more willing to get it because the recovery can be camouflaged, so to speak."

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