5 minutes with… Mr Paul Banwell
How has your practice/routine changed since the coronavirus pandemic?
I am surprised but everything has changed with COVID – more than I ever realised it would.
The biggest impact of COVID was how to be even more discerning with my time and energy and highlighting what is important in life and what is not; what is necessary and what is unnecessary. I now focus on the important and the necessary. Our health and well-being have come into focus and many in the industry including myself are taking an even more holistic approach to aesthetics and how our patients are managed. Personally my long-term goal is to dedicate more time to pursuits I genuinely enjoy – martial arts, cycling, skiing and surfing and encouraging others to do so too.
In terms of the Practice, operationally we have had to analyse running costs even more keenly (down to the minute details) to ensure, as a business we are financially leaner, as costs can spiral very quickly. The lockdown(s) meant that we had to look at everything we do very critically which is good practice anyway but sometimes you can lose sight of that.
Are there any elements of your new way of working that you would continue with once things go back to "normal"?
Definitely! On a personal level I try to now make a point of exercising most days; even a walk helps clear you head and focus. In the clinic COVID-19 has accelerated to move to go paperless which has been massive sea change. Many surgeons are perhaps still entrenched in using paper, mainly because there are a lot of activities that do require it still. But as a result of going paperless we are now very mobile, and this has also had an impact on how we think about our potential office and clinic space as well. We want to continue with this as we return to the new normal.
Over lockdown, the shift to online consultations has been easily adopted by patients allowing for increased contact, exchange of information, education, and creation of treatment plans all from the privacy of their own home. I had previously utilised these consultations for overseas patients but for cosmetic surgery, I thought I wanted to see my patients each time, so I didn’t use online consultations as often. However, experience has shown while it is not 100% fool proof it does give a good flavour and indeed patients like it because it reduces travel for instance so there is lots of good things about it. So now, we mix it up! The initial consultation is virtual. Then we must see patients face to face to analyse and to assess tissues, elasticity and do measurements, etc which is all part of the preoperative planning. The third consultation is again virtual.
In a ‘usual year’ however I do prefer to see my patients a lot, probably more so than other surgeons because I feel as though it’s important to have a rapport.
How do you work with other medical aesthetic professionals to give a holistic approach to your treatments/procedures?
I enjoy working with other people and always take a holistic approach with my patients. I love surgery but I also love non-surgical treatments as well. Over lockdown I developed the idea of having a Collective where we had several practitioners coming together working in the same place but completely independent – much like an artist’s studio where many artists work under one roof. In this respect I work very closely with Nina Prisk, an extremely talented nurse injector and utilise this holistic approach.
We refer patients to each other regularly but we look at both perspectives, (a surgical perspective and a non-surgical perspective). For instance, when we are dealing with lip-aesthetics, for instance, we’ll do a combined lip assessment as the patient might need a surgical lip lift and at the same time might need lip augmentation. With non-surgical aesthetics and contouring being very much the trend and the first port of call, patients may come to me for a facelift, blepharoplasty or another surgical procedure, but I would refer them to Nina first if I feel a non-surgical approach is the best option. We are also integrating more cutting-edge techniques such as regenerative medicine with fat transfer and nano fat transfer which has been very successful. Another example of holistic working is with Giselle Sommerviile, our brilliant therapist who specialises in unique Rationale Skin Care luxury facials and Sensory Retreats massages. Another member of the ‘Banwell Collective’ is world renowned Dr Zunaid Alli and a well-known injector and trainer who has immense experience in non-surgical aesthetics.
What are your top marketing tips for other surgeons looking for more patients?
It is important to focus on your branding and the need to market yourself. Personally, I promote under my own name but regardless (whether you use your name or use a trading name) your branding must be strong.
Branding must be open and transparent and you need to communicate the essence of you and what you stand for. Honest online conversations and the ability for others to find out about you makes you more approachable and provides people with an idea of who they are coming to see. Furthermore, everyone’s branding style is different, and it is that style that will resonate with particular patients. As a result, different businesses attract different patients, surgical and non-surgical. I would recommend staying true to yourself and create your own style.
Do you recommend specific skincare/make-up products for use post- surgery and how do you decide which ones to recommend?
I have always been a big fan of skin care, having lectured around the world on skin and the business of skin. So, for me skincare is so important. Particularly in lockdown, our skincare practice has been very strong and helped us survive as our revenue was quite significant. My particular favourite brand, Rationale, is unique to us in the UK, but ultimately it does not matter which brand you align yourself with – just make sure it is of high quality and you believe in it. You need to educate your patients about the benefits of skincare and then it becomes repeat business. Obviously, you need to remain relevant and up-to-date so keep an eye on the market as the brands should always be current, appealing and luxurious for the consumer. You can also use companies such as Get Harley, Harper Grace International and Aesthetic Source who can help with product sales and offer your patients a premium luxury delivery service.
During lockdown I had the opportunity to realise a long-held plan about additional revenue streams for surgeons and practitioners. As a result I had time to craft and formulate a supplement range specifically aimed at the cosmetic and aesthetic industry market – ARTIS London. It is based on high quality products, awesome branding and a repeat business model; it is very easy to add these supplements onto treatment packages and clients seem to come back on a regular basis to purchase. This generates regular revenue and loyalty from existing patients.
Lastly, what three things do you wish you knew before becoming a plastic surgeon?
Firstly, I didn’t realise quite the length of the training! But from the patient point of view, it is that length of training that gives them the security and experience of safety.
Finally, at no point are you provided with any grounding in business and entrepreneurship. Instead, it’s something you have to learn through hard graft and luck. You might make the wrong decisions or the right ones. Along these lines and in order to educate surgeons and practitioners I have recently set up the Banwell-Prisk School of Aesthetic Medicine with Nina Prisk, my amazing colleague and business partner. We specifically wanted one of our core educational pillars of education to revolve around the business of aesthetics and entrepreneurship. This provides students with an accelerated learning programme that directs them to success in their careers.
Lastly, as a Plastic Surgeon I wish I had known that I would melt if I stood in front of the fire!