Date: 11 Nov 2014
Author: Jayme Bashian
Help clients get a clear picture of their skin with the help of imaging technology.
Cameras are typically known for capturing special moments in a person’s life, but they have also become essential tools in helping skincare professionals examine and treat skin conditions, as well as boost business at medical spas nationwide. “Imaging is being used in a number of creative ways with two main goals in mind: Improving patient outcomes and enhancing revenue,” says Bart Zoni, founder and chief marketing officer at Juventio, makers of DermWorx, which exclusively sells the Miravex Antera 3D compact imaging device. He believes that imaging is useful for evaluation and seeing beyond what the eye and traditional cameras are capable of viewing; and reinforcement, which is useful for multi-treatment regimens like laser scar and anti-cellulite treatments, because it shows progress even when it’s hard for patients to notice improvements by looking in the mirror every day. “The confidence and encouragement that imaging provides can be the difference between dropping out or sticking with a treatment plan,” he says. Also, imaging is useful for tracking results. “With objective analysis tools, we can now track patients over time and see how their skin changes,” says Zoni. “They chart a person’s skincare journey, which helps to highlight the essential role of the medical spa professional as a long-term partner.”
Behind the Lens
There are several forms of imaging options and devices available for use in medical spas today that offer a detailed view of a client’s skin. According to Zoni, the ideal imaging device is simple, reliable, accurate, and provides meaningful information, including identifying trouble areas that may not be immediately apparent to the naked eye; demonstrating to clients that there is a need for certain services or products; reliably tracking progress across multiple skin variables; and immediately showing understandable results to help communicate with clients. Rahul Mehendale, cofounder and CEO of MySkin, believes that emerging imaging devices are more effective than those available in the past because they focus less on what is wrong with the client’s skin today and instead focus on a deeper level to predict and address concerns before they emerge on the skin’s surface.
Analytical imaging systems provide a quantitative, rather than just a qualitative, evaluation of a client’s skin, allowing specialists to measure the condition and compare with others in their age group, skin type, and gender. These systems can often be the selling point in encouraging clients to make a commitment to costly and extended treatment options. Feature-visualization systems are another advanced imaging option. Ultraviolet (UV) photography, for example, works by increasing the visual contrast between melanin and the surrounding tissue. A video shot by photographer Thomas Leveritt and licensed by ABC News went viral this past summer when viewers were shocked to see what skin looks like under UV lights. It was a wakeup call for many people on both the dangers of UV rays and the benefits of imaging devices. Most feature-visualization software can also provide extreme closeups and side-by-side comparisons, and they provide clients with personalized reports.
Image Pro II by Emage, which is used at Luxuria Medical Spa & Laser Center (Egg Harbor Township, NJ), is a skin imaging system that examines targeted areas under intense magnification in normal, polarized, and UV light. It also measures and analyzes fine lines and pigmentation, evaluates skintone and texture, reviews comparative graphical analysis based on client demographics, and provides high-quality images. Simply Posh Aesthetic Spa, which is affiliated with Advanced Dermatology, PC (multiple locations, NY), takes before-and-after photos of all clients and offers a complimentary skin analysis during facial consultations using the F-1 Paragon Skin Scanner by Garfield International. The scanner utilizes UV light to reveal areas of depigmentation and includes a blackout cape on the back panel allowing for use during bright conditions and a mirror inside that allows clients to view their reflection and follow along during diagnosis. “By analyzing the complexion, we are able to see the depth of pores, extent of wrinkles, pigmented areas, UV damage, and bacterial buildup,” says Jayme Bashian, director and lead medical aesthetician at Simply Posh. “From there, we are able to customize a skincare program that specifically targets imperfections. After assessing the patient, we can then provide a tailored skin-rejuvenating plan.”
Another advantage of clinical imaging software is that it can automatically name and store images and files in a designated location, and before-and-after photos can be easily displayed. DermaFlash, for example, recently introduced the PhotoSAM-III Skin Analysis System using the Samsung Galaxy Tablet 10.1 Edition 2014, which captures real-time video and still images processed in real time. On the tablet, the images can be viewed, captured, and saved with a simple tap on the screen. Similarly, the Dermograph by MySkin is an integrated touchscreen computer and hand-held device that looks beneath the surface of the skin using visible light to identify problems such as low elasticity or luminosity and increased melanin activity before they become surface issues. It then matches results with the most effective products and treatments.
Studio systems are another form of imaging found at some medical spas. These imaging systems are used mainly to photograph larger areas of the body or the entire body itself and are typically used for consultations of non-invasive or minimally invasive procedures, including light-based therapies, body sculpting, and cellulite treatments. According to Diana Ordonez, product manager at Canfield Scientific, these systems are typically more complex and consist of a digital camera, an adjustable camera support, external lighting, a backdrop, and some method of positioning the patient.
Allure Medical Spa (multiple locations, MI) houses five photo suites in addition to specialized photography systems, including Canfield Scientific’s VECTRA system, which uses a series of digital cameras arranged on an arch to create 3-D images. “These 3-D images can be manipulated so a person can see what they would look like with nasal or facial surgery, and it is especially helpful for assisting women in selecting breast implant size by showing before-and-after simulations,” says Charles Mok, D.O., owner of Allure Medical Spa. “The cameras feed to a computer that assembles the images into a high-resolution 3-D image that can be viewed at any angle. We can then go to the computer in the consultation room, select various implant types and sizes, and view side-by-side images, which can be printed out for the client to take home.” Allure also utilizes the Canfield VISIA Complexion Analysis, which provides skin evaluations, on-screen and printed reports, and tracks treatment progress. It also uses special filters to measure and quantify brown spots, wrinkles, and pore size.
Face and body imaging can help boost a medical spa’s business by adding a scientific aspect to the spa’s services and products. It also increases trust and satisfaction in a client’s relationship with the medical spa. “Face and body imaging is a huge opportunity to inject science into the emotional, yet blind, purchasing process followed by consumers today,” says Mehendale. “The ability to look into specific skin health parameters and use science to prioritize areas to focus on greatly enhances the esthetician’s credibility when making product and treatment recommendations. Consumers have shown us that when science matches with dedicated personal attention, they spend more frequently and buy more.”
Also, from a business development perspective, imaging provides the medical spa owner with keen insight into which treatments, products, and services really work best and allows a comparison across different products or devices, according to Zoni. “Customers like to quantify results,” he says. “There’s a huge difference between telling a person ‘you look great’ and being able to say ‘your skin is 30 percent smoother, 24 percent more even in tone, and your wrinkles have decreased by 41 percent.’”
Mok has even noticed that unhappy or marginally happy customers turn into repeat buyers with the help of imaging technology because they are able to see for themselves the before-and-after pictures of their skin. “Imaging has helped build our business by giving people realistic expectations, as well as allowing customers to see progress,” he says. For example, Mok says that non-surgical fat reduction has been very popular lately at his medical spa, but because the fat reduction devices generally remove small amounts of fat at a time, clients are often unable to see immediate results and lose interest in continuing the treatment plan. “With photography, we can give them some confidence,” he says. “With imaging that includes measurements, clients can have concrete evidence.”
As with many skincare treatments and spa offerings, word-of-mouth referrals are one of the most effective ways to get new clients in the door. If a current client leaves with a before-and-after image or visual, it’s likely the client will share the image with friends. “This makes your business the topic of a conversation among the very group you most want to reach,” says Ordonez. “And as every businessperson knows, there is nothing more compelling than a word-of-mouth personal referral. This is viral marketing at its best.” Imaging equipment can also be added to marketing materials, such as brochures and advertisements, to gain interest. And unlike many other services at medical spas, photo imaging is not as costly, so offering clients a complimentary skin scan and analysis gains clients’ attention and is an easy way to start a conversation about the services available to treat their particular skin conditions.
In addition, in-spa events that allow current and potential clients to see how the devices work and receive a free scan, and participation in events like health fairs, can be key marketing tools to attract new clients. “If an imaging device is fast, simple, and portable, it can really become a very flexible marketing tool that fits into many of the promotional activities that we already do,” says Zoni. He suggests offering a skin analysis as part of these events or include it as an addition to online deals and promotions, make a skin analysis part of follow-up appointments for tracking progress of multi-treatment regimens, make a habit of always doing before-and-after images for deep chemical peels or laser treatments, print a before-and-after image and include it in a thank-you note after key clients have finished a series of treatments, and use before-and-after images with permission in treatment menus and marketing materials to show clients what kind of results they can expect to see. “Today’s consumer is intelligent, information-hungry, and results-focused,” says Zoni. “With the right imaging and customer communication tools, you can drive home the simple message that ‘what we do here works’ and back it up with cold, hard facts. This can really add up to a significant competitive advantage.”