Not long ago, it was common to go days without taking photos. Now, it’s hard to make it through a single meal without a snap. Even in our photo-saturated modern culture, images remain powerful. It comes as no surprise then that advanced imaging technology appeals to snap-happy potential clients, as well. Seeing is believing. When clients can evaluate photos of their skin before and after treatment, it builds confidence. “First and foremost, I recommend imaging to build trust and loyalty,” says Bart Zoni, founder and chief marketing officer for DermWorx Skin Health, makers of the Antera 3D imaging device. “When you show a client real and objective information about their skin, it really helps boost your role as a trusted adviser.” There is a wide range of imaging devices on the market to match your medical spa’s needs. “The most important developments for device buyers have been specialization and choice,” says Zoni. “Not too long ago, there were only a few decent imaging options available. Today, dermal imaging includes devices that are smaller, simpler, and more reliable, and provide better actual data to providers.”
At their most basic functionality, imaging devices capture skin characteristics that help document clients’ progress through treatment. “Before-and-after photos are crucial to our practice,” says Paul M. Parker, M.D., medical director at the Parker Center for Plastic Surgery (Paramus, NJ). “Clients have a tendency to quickly forget what they look like before a procedure. When you put before-and-after photos side by side, they speak for themselves.”
Imaging devices not only preserve ‘before’ characteristics but they also reveal skin concerns not visible to the naked eye. “Skin imaging has evolved considerably in a short period of time, delivering deep, subsurface views in a fast, portable way, engaging guests quickly, and facilitating rapid skin analysis to enable ideal customized treatment and product recommendations,” says Barbara Green, vice president of clinical affairs for NeoStrata Company, which manufactures the Exuviance skincare line and opened Exuviance Skin Lab (Short Hills, NJ) last year. There, estheticians offer complimentary evaluations using SKINsight Imaging, which incorporates Canfield’s Reveal Imager and RBX Technology. Cameras with standard flash show surface imperfections like wrinkles, and crossed polarizing filters reveal brown spots and red areas beneath the skin’s surface.
Similarly Canfield’s VISIA is integral to services at the Parker Center for Plastic Surgery. “The VISIA analysis allows us to assess sun damage, wrinkles, brown spots, red spots, and texture conditions,” says Parker. “It is helpful to us in identifying areas that need improvement and making recommendations for treatments.” He also relies on the device’s TruSkin-age feature to compare a client’s overall skin condition with others in the same age group. Using this information, your medical spa can then offer recommendations to improve skin health.
Thanks to these benefits, imaging has become a standard component in consultations, and a way to extend consultations into paid services. “Dermal imaging done correctly gives you the hard evidence that your recommendation is on the right track and provides a target to reach,” says Zoni. “In every therapeutic area, there are targets that help determine treatments: blood pressure goals, cholesterol goals, and lung function goals. Dermal imaging allows us to do the same for the skin.”
Imaging technology has improved in such a way that it can also simulate aging and accurately predict results from specific treatments. Canfield’s Age Simulation provides an example of what clients will look like in the future following the natural course of aging. Other devices also have the capability of revealing what complexion concerns may appear if clients opt out of services. “There’s a science at play, both in seeing results and understanding a person’s natural course of aging,” says Dennis Gross, M.D., dermatologist and owner of 900 Fifth Dermatology
(New York City). “Patients want the most comprehensive and customized approach to their care, and photo imaging is a key player in the technology used in my dermatology practice.” Seeing a future version of their own skin is oftentimes more effective and powerful than viewing other clients’ before-and-after photos.
Predicting the outcomes of specific treatments can also ensure satisfied patients. “All of our patients undergo computer imaging, which is essential for us to communicate expectations and desires,” says Parker.
“Our main objective at the Parker Center is patient satisfaction, and an important aspect of satisfaction is meeting expectations. Imaging allows us to visualize our patients’ hopes and goals so that we can arrive at a shared understanding of results.”
Imaging devices also provide a look back in time, a function that makes them especially valuable when it comes to treating the skin. Photos create an attention-grabbing skin history to share with clients. “Guests are surprised and amazed when they see their subsurface skin damage,” says Green. “They are excited to watch their transformation and revel in turning back the hands of time.”
However, it’s only effective if images are preserved and categorized. “Each photo is organized in a patient’s chart, so over the years, we can glance at how the face may change and age,” says Gross. At 900 Fifth Dermatology, Gross divides the face into three zones to hone in on changes and treatment options. “Each zone has its own path for aging, and using images allows me to see which area leads the way and how this may change the face over time,” he says.
Because standard photos aren’t able to fully capture the progress of some of the most popular procedures, such as fillers, body contouring, and breast augmentation, 3-D images offer a more comprehensive view and add that key extra dimension to show changes in volume. “Adding 3-D imaging allows the skincare professional to show their patient all angles of the face or body in a single image,” says Diana Ordonez, senior product manager for Canfield Scientific. The Plastic Surgery Group (multiple locations in NJ and NY) provides 3-D printed sculptures of anticipated outcomes for patients. “We are always looking to exceed client expectations,” says Allen D. Rosen, M.D., founding partner and medical director for The Plastic Surgery Group. “A tangible 3-D sculpture that they can take home and share with their loved ones sets a new standard for executing the patient goal.”
There, doctors also rely on 3-D imagery with Canfield’s VECTRA. “It can capture face and body images in ultra-high resolution 3-D and show our patients the exciting possibilities of their procedures,” he says. “It also has the capability of 360-degree body imaging.” For example, the VECTRA has a library of breast implants from major manufacturers, so patients can see how an exact model and size will appear on them before going under the knife.
The true power of imaging devices lies in translating clear pictures into a convincing marketing strategy. “I believe these advanced technologies will increase customer engagement and conversions,” says Brenda Cumming, R.N., a member of the board of directors for Lira Clinical. Added features in imaging devices, such as research-grade data on texture, wrinkles, melanin pigmentation, and redness, quantify treatment progress to provide numbers to explain the improved appearance and back up sales claims. “The secret ingredient is training on marketing and consultation,” says Zoni. “You win with imaging when you know how to integrate a device with your consultation and marketing and can link imaging with the procedures, products, and services you offer.”
Check out the imaging devices available from these companies.—J.N.
Christie Medical Holdings