Let’s face it. What is consistently the most heavily trafficked area on every aesthetic practice’s website? By far, it’s the Patient Photo Gallery! This is more important to most patients than the doctor’s credentials, special expertise, training and specialty.

Satisfied patients who are proud of the way they look after procedures may share their results and the experience in your clinic. Social media channels are the ideal pathway for this exchange. Today we are all accustomed to sharing photos of vacations, Christmas dinners, and birthday flowers – so why not filled lips, slimmer hips, and Botoxed brows too?

Patients investing in treatments to improve their appearance demand to see before and after photos in today’s competitive market. Patient photos are vital education and communication tools. It is the most effective way to show patients how the treatment has worked and measure improvements; patients do not tend to remember what they looked like they were treated. This can lead to misunderstandings and the perception that they have had a poor result, overly aggressive change, or no change at all.

They place more importance on clinical photos than the practitioner’s training, reputation, experience. If you don’t have photos of your own results to show, they may assume that you don’t do enough of that procedure. The practitioner’s results speak to their expertise, aesthetic judgment, artistic eye – the criteria patients will judge a doctor by to make their treatment decisions. Real patient photos are your best marketing tools.

Clearly, facial photos are harder to get than body areas below the neck.
Partial face photos are easier to get than full face photos that reveal the patient’s identity. Beware that patients technically own their photos; therefore, you cannot use them at will without express written consent.

The best way to get patients to allow you to use their photos, is to ask them when you know that they are happy and may be open to doing it. When patients are happy with their treatment, ask them; ‘Are you willing to let us show your photos to other patients or use them on our website?’ This ask can be facilitated by the doctor or the staff, depending the nature of the patient relationship within the practice.

It is wise to engage an attorney to draft a clear and bullet-proof consent form to be signed by the patient and the practice (owner or manager) and witnessed. Consent forms should be kept on file in the patient’s chart. State up front what you may use the photos for: education, lectures, slide decks, social media (name each platform), website, media, PR, etc. Also give the patient a copy to take home for their records to avoid any potential misunderstandings down the road.
Patients can revoke permission to show or post their photographs at any time for any reason and in most locations, the practitioner will be obligated to take them down.

Another consideration is to make it easy and accessible for patients to have their photos taken when they are in your practice. Use a private exam room or designated area where staff can take photos in an intimate setting where patients feel comfortable. Utilize a professional imaging system or camera set-up, or subscribe to a cloud-based program. Make an effort to take photos for ALL treatments (surgery, injectables, lasers, etc), for ALL patients to be able to compare results.

There is no doubt that a robust patient photo gallery of photos that match procedure-specific target audiences will go far to help your practice sell-in procedures. This should include varied age groups, both genders, skin types, and photos for as many treatments as possible that you offered.