Blair Wegner has been working at Aspire Plastic Surgery & Med Spa as an Aesthetician for over 3 years. She is joined by 3 injectors, 3 Aestheticians, and well-known plastic surgeon, Dr. Brian Lee. At the end of 2019, her practice was seeking new technology that they could implement the following year. According to Blair, “we were really looking for something that we could use for melasma, use on patients of color, and was tolerable.” Fulfilling these credentials, the Aerolase Neo Elite was determined to be the best fit for the practice. Soon after Aspire’s purchase, COVID-19 hit the nation. Blair recalled during these unprecedented times that the Neo “saved our practice.”
In this article, we will discuss the benefits that Blair reaped with Neo Elite, including practice sustainability during COVID-19, ability to treat skin of color patients, effectively treating melasma, and the ability to upsell her products/services with the Neo.
On the Verge of Collapse
For many businesses, COVID-19 jeopardized their ability to generate revenue which as a result put them as risk for permanent closure. For Blair, this reality seemed inevitable not only because of COVID-19, but also because they revealed a loss of profitability due to Pico technology; “We had Pico technology, that of course, was a little bit oversold to us for tattoo removal and for skin rejuvenation. It just really had ended up being something that tanked our profitability in the last couple of years.”
From national shutdown to low ROI, the fate of closure seemed to be more definite; “We were closed for about six weeks through March and April. We were very limited with how we could treat when we came back. I myself, actually, wasn’t able to come back as soon as I would have liked to. I was pregnant at the time and it wasn’t clear to go back. We were down providers and we lost the last part of what you would typically consider laser season, in March and April, to be able to do some of our stronger lasers. Patients were quarantined at the lake and they had sun. What were we going to do?”
Struggling with practice sustainability didn’t end there as Blair recalled; “The crazy part is also during that time, our typical laser hair removal machine, the diode laser hair removal machine stopped working.”
In light during these dark times, Blair and the team at Aspire found the Neo Elite to be a major outlet of success with its revenue-generating efficacy and reliability; “Thank God we had the Neo in our back pocket because we were able to treat patients seamlessly. When we opened back up, Neo was the modality that was running all day long. We were able to seamlessly treat laser hair removal patients, not have a hiccup in any of their series because we pulled out the Neo and started treating with that. Those were all unexpected reasons that Neo has been great for practice. The Neo saved our practice.”
The Neo Elite not only became a reliable device in Blair’s practice, but it also was one of the most hygienic options for the providers; “On the hygienic aspect, it’s been really great for our providers. It has been huge for us to be able to turn rooms over from patient to patient. It’s been huge for us to be able to not be touching the patient as much as you would with a typical treatment. I would say it’s been a little bit more of an advantage from our perspective on the backend.”
By utilizing the Neo Elite during COVID-19, the practice had new found hope that it could withstand its troubles and remain open; “Through COVID, essentially really launching this product and the services in June, we’ve collected over 50 grand in a year. That was so unprecedented. It really saved us. I don’t know what else to say other than that, because that says it all.”
After proving itself to be a substantial investment, Blair and the team continued to utilize the Neo Elite regularly in their practice. With their new device, the team reevaluated their marketing efforts to promote the device as a summer-friendly laser available for patients of all skin types.
A Melasma Breakthrough
Prior to COVID-19, Blair had an inkling that the Neo Elite was going to be relevant in the practice; “When David [Aerolase Sales Representative] walked into our practice, and started talking to us about Neo, I had actually already been looking into the technology. It was a divine intervention moment when David walked in. I had already been eyeing the technology. It was really exciting.”
Blair’s interest stemmed from the idea that the Neo Elite was more than just a laser device to her patients. It was a device that opened treatment options for her skin of color and melasma patients; “We’re in Indiana, you would not think that everyone here has a tan. However, we live in a region that’s full of lakes, everyone’s a lake person. All summer long, the majority of our lasers become non-usable on most of our patients, because they have some color to their skin.”
Offering her patients of color laser therapy during the summer further enhanced her treatment options and patients’ experience; “We had patients come in often that we were under delivering for and we wanted something that was more potent, more powerful, more dependable. The Neo Elite ended up being that for our patients of color, for melasma patients. Those are really the biggest treatments that we do with Neo in our practice.”
A key takeaway for treating her melasma patients with the Neo Elite was that they didn’t need to stop their topicals. The Neo Elite’s short pulse duration makes it a suitable device to combine with certain medications. For Blair, the Neo’s ability to be safely combined with other therapies was a major breakthrough. According to Blair, “when we talk about the Neo to our patients, it was all about the laser that you don’t have to sacrifice your lifestyle for. You don’t have to stop your topicals and you don’t necessarily need to necessarily stay out of the sun.”
Blair was ecstatic to find a device that enhanced result outcomes. She continued to pair the Neo Elite with other therapies to achieve melasma clearance; “When we’re treating melasma patients, we use glycolic peels. We were just using 30% glycolic peels for melasma and we had patients who had amazing results. For patients with stubborn melasma, we include either 50% or 70% glycolic peels. That is included in our pricing as well, so there’s no hiccup in trying to convince a patient to add something on. It’s just included in the pricing and the protocol.”
After combining the Neo Elite with either topical or glycolic peels, Blair claims: “We’ve seen definite increases in the results on those patients that maybe had a little bit more stubborn melasma to treat and stubborn hyperpigmentation.”
Blair noticed that not only was she capable of treating skin of color patients, but she was also able to treat a variety of other indications in combination as well; “We also treat some acne. For us, we don’t see a lot of acne, but the patients that we do see, this has been great for them. Secondarily, we use this for skin rejuvenation, especially for patients who are looking for something tolerable with zero downtime. Most often it’s skin rejuvenation, and then we’ll microneedle on top of it. We’ve been messing around with stacking the Neo with microneedling since we have a huge microneedling base. Patients who just love microneedling. They never want to do anything else. One way we’re trying to get those patients to try something more like Neo and laser is offering stacked treatments.”
By offering more combination therapies, Blair continually became more confident in the laser and its safety profile; “The laser is so safe and efficient. I think it instills confidence in a provider really quickly.” Blair claims that this confidence is important when it comes to selling the treatments. For that reason, when reevaluating their marketing efforts, the team became more educated on the Neo Elite and started promoting it online.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is becoming a must in order for businesses to be successful. For many practices, social media is one of the most effective ways to get a patient’s attention on product launches and treatment deals/discounts. Blair finds that social media is an essential not only for practice promotions, but also for educating patients on new therapies and devices. Educating patients on a laser that doesn’t require the need for downtime was at the top of Blair’s list; “Many patients are apprehensive about anything that has the word laser on it. They think, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to be swollen. I’m going to be puffy. I’m going to look like my face was blowtorched.’ They don’t understand the process. Lasers are such an abstract concept to them. I think that’s what stops most people from wanting to do laser treatments, especially first-time laser patients because they just don’t understand what to expect.”
To change the way her patients viewed laser therapy, Blair and the team had to educate them; “The biggest thing that we try to do in office is whenever we launch any new technology, everyone in the practice is educated on it. Everyone knows where it fits in our repertoire. We are able to talk, educated on the subject. We’re able to educate patients, take our education, and educate patients. The biggest thing we did, especially with COVID, was we just talk to patients about it.”
To educate a broader patient base, Blair turned to social media. For Blair, social media is an essential tool to advise patients on their new device and treatment experience. According to Blair, “We had something that we were able to offer patients that they were excited about because it was something new. We do a lot on social media. When we launched this,
the first thing we did was post videos of the treatments happening, we email out videos
of the treatments, and patients are able to see what it’s like in the room. What we like to do is we like to show them what’s happening in the room, show them pictures of what their skin looks like afterwards, so that that fear is taken away, and they go, ‘Okay, let’s try it.’ The apprehension is no longer the process.”
Out of all of their marketing efforts, Blair claims: “The best marketing strategy we had was showing what that process looks like on our social media, on emails, in the room with patients. We all have pictures on our computers and phones of what and videos so that wouldn’t work consulting with the patient. We can show them right then and there what they can expect. I think that was the best way that we marketed, that was the most successful for us. Especially our patients are used to some of our more invasive modalities, some stuff that’s a little bit more on the painful side and then stuff, as well as your typical HydraFacial Dermalinfusion, those kinds of treatments. These fit in the middle and we really had to do a lot of work educating patients that, ‘Yes, this is a laser, but no, you’re not going to have that downtime. You’re not going to look like you got beat up or burned or anything like that. It’s going to be seamless to your day-to-day life and lifestyle.’”
Blair and the team determined that educating their patients also helped them sell more treatments.
For many providers, selling treatments to patients can be intimidating. On the other side, other providers find selling to be more of an educational approach rather than a sales pitch. Blair claims: “We as providers are the experts and we do a disservice to our patients when we’re not saying, ‘I think you need a package of five. I think you’ll have the best results doing a package of five, following up with some retinol and XYZ, and making a long-term plan.’ Then always giving them the out of, ‘This is the most ideal option for you. This will give you the best results, but we can always rework something different if you don’t like how that looks.” Nine times out of 10, the patient goes for the full-fledged plan.”
According to Blair, some patients would like to be more educated on treatment options but aren’t always going to ask the right questions about it. Blair had an experience with a patient that didn’t return to the practice for about a year. When Blair asked the patient why she is back, the patient replied, “I’m here because I want something done. What I really want is someone to tell me what to do because when I was here a year ago, I was really disappointed. I was in here last time and I was really concerned about my wrinkles and aging and the aesthetician, all she recommended for me was Botox. I left really disappointed because I was really looking for a plan.”
A major flaw of the previous provider was that they didn’t educate the patient on other treatment options. According to Blair, “It was just such a great moment to verify why we do what we do in our practice, which is to educate, give the patient the Taj Mahal of plans and they’ll pick and choose what they want. At the end of the day, they’re in charge of their wallet, not you and it’s not your business to decide what their wallet looks like either. When someone comes in for a consultation, they may be scared to ask more questions, but it’s not because they don’t want to know the answer, it’s because they don’t know how to ask it, they don’t know where to start.”
Blair knew that she had to educate the patient on skin rejuvenation therapies that were available. In this case, the patient was only advised on botox but wanted a more natural approach. Considering this, Blair said: “When I sat there, we talked through a laser plan for the year, as well as some traditional facials. Then in her off months, we got her on a regimen. She went home with $500 worth of product that day and scheduled her next appointment. I think that’s the perfect way to end that as far as when we’re talking about conversational marketing and education. Patients, they want to know, that’s why they’re in your room. That’s why they’re on your table because they want you to tell them what to do. They want your expertise so give it to them.”
About Blair Wegner, Licensed Aesthetician:
Blair began her career in the aesthetic and cosmetic industry in 2010. Her passion for skin helped her graduate as Valedictorian of her class at Rudae’s School of Beauty Culture. Specializing in advanced Aspire treatments such as BBL, miraDry, Halo, and other laser modalities, Blair can treat a wide variety of aesthetic concerns.
In addition to treating patients, Blair travels across the country educating other professionals on the science behind SkinMedica’s groundbreaking products, as one of very few Esthetician speakers in the nation. When asked, she says the most rewarding part of her job is not just the clinical results her patients achieve, but when she can help a patient see their intrinsic beauty radiating on the outside.