How to Manage Patients’ Expectations

Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance
By Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance

With over 25 years' experience, we are the industry's leading provider of cosmetic insurance services to the cosmetic industry.

Guest blog from Hamilton Fraser

Managing expectations is an essential part of any client-based business, if patients have unrealistic expectations, they will be unhappy with the results when they are not met. In the aesthetics sector, it is important that patients have a clear understanding of the results that will be achieved from their treatment.

In this guest blog for Consulting Room, Hamilton Fraser provides guidance on how to manage patient expectations and gives advice on how to say no if you feel the treatment is unsuitable for the patient.

Managing patient expectations

In a digital-first industry, it is easy for patients to research treatments online and from viewing misleading content, have unreliable expectations of their desired outcome.

It is important to provide clear and easy-to-understand information on the treatments you offer as a practitioner, whether this be on your website, social media channels or a leaflet. Starting the patient journey as a trusted, reliable source will help to build a positive relationship. The key to a successful relationship with your potential patient is to listen and understand their needs and expectations. As a practitioner, it is your responsibility to manage the gap between the patient’s expectations and the possible outcome.

Managing patient expectations.

Managing unrealistic expectations is key to making your practice a success. An unhappy patient can potentially pose a serious threat to your business if they make a claim against you, tying up your resources and causing a lot of stress. Without patients fully understanding the outcome there is a high risk of patient dissatisfaction which can affect patient outcomes, retention, and potential litigation. It can also cause a negative word of mouth for your business. This is why managing their expectations from the start is important.


Consultation is key

When it comes to managing patients’ expectations, the consultation process is key. During the consultation you should take the time to explain your training, expertise, and experience, this will put the patient at ease and build trust which is particularly important for your reputation as an aesthetic practitioner.

Initially asking open questions such as their reason for undergoing treatment and leading up to closed questions is a good way of encouraging the patient to open up, building a picture of what they want to achieve and why. Finding out about their lifestyle habits and skincare routine is also part of a comprehensive consultation. This initial communication is your opportunity to ask about their past experience with aesthetic procedures, whether they have had treatment before and details of any bad experiences or allergic reactions are integral to good, responsible practice.

Finding out their desired results is important, but as an experienced practitioner, you should be casting an objective eye over what can realistically be achieved whilst maintaining natural-looking results. It is your responsibility to be honest and explain your expert opinion to the patient. Explaining any pain or discomfort they may experience, the aftercare that will be involved and how long results will last should also be thoroughly discussed.

It may also be helpful to show patients before and after images of potential side effects so they can fully visualise potential outcomes. Taking before and after photos of the patient can be useful to show patients the extent of change since treatment was carried out, enabling them to see the progress made rather than visualising an ideal image.

Following the consultation, you should have established whether the client is suitable for treatment – there may be certain reasons as to why you shouldn’t go ahead with the procedure such as if the client is pregnant, showing signs of body dysmorphia or has unrealistic expectations of results.

How to say no to a patient

How to say no to a patient

It’s important to remember that it’s not only the patient who needs to consent to treatment – as a practitioner you need to consent too. During the consultation, you should conduct a psychological evaluation to make sure you are happy for the patient to go ahead with treatment.

Treatment is at your discretion, and you do not have to treat the patient, you both need to be comfortable going ahead and have a mutual understanding of expected results. Occasionally, you may feel a certain amount of pressure to administer a treatment that just isn’t suitable. And although this can be difficult, it is important not to be swayed in these situations and to stay in line with your professionalism and moral compass.

Patients who do not have a comprehensive understanding of the potential outcomes and are prepared to sign a consent without a discussion or consultation should be avoided, and their motivation considered carefully.

If you feel a patient is not suitable for the treatment, be honest with them and explain that the results would not meet their expectations or the reasons why they are not suitable. It is important to educate the patient on why their goal is not achievable and discuss any alternative treatments.

“With a significant number of claims being based around customer dissatisfaction, at Hamilton Fraser, we strongly believe that managing expectations should be front and centre of the consultation process, as this has a direct impact on the management of any claims that occur.”

- Eddie Hooker, Founder of Hamilton Fraser and Managing Director of HFIS


Even following the correct consultation and consent process, a patient may still be disappointed with the results and raise a claim. If a claim occurs, it is important to have comprehensive insurance in place to protect you.

With over 26 years of experience, Hamilton Fraser is the industry's leading provider of cosmetic insurance services and was the first to offer medical malpractice insurance. As a leader in the market, we’ve got you covered and are proud to insure the most comprehensive range of cosmetic treatments. Get a quote online today or call the team on 0800 63 43 881.

For more expert information, guidance and advice join us for the Aesthetics Business Conference (ABC), our step-by-step conference for start-up practitioners. Hosted at the prestigious Royal College of Physicians on 19 September, the conference discusses a variety of relevant sector topics helping you to develop and grow your business. New for 2023, ABC will host several key medicolegal sessions including tax, legislation, regulation and insurance. Join our expert panel as they discuss upcoming industry regulations to fully equip you for the changes ahead.

Secure your tickets here.

For 10% off your ABC 2023 ticket use discount code CONSULTINGROOM10.


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