"I'll see their masseter bulging from the side and say, 'do you have grinding problems?'" When the patient answers affirmatively, Dr. Lupo gently guides the patient to touch the area while she explains how masseter hypertrophy affects their facial shape. "If it's a woman, I say, 'it's pulling your face down.'"
These kinds of interactions are crucial, she says, but they must be done slowly and mindfully.
"Some women and men want to take it all in. Some get very afraid. Your social skills must be very finely attuned," says Dr. Lupo.
Additional nonverbal cues worth noting include crossed arms, pursed lips and raised eyebrows.
Capitalize on positive social signals.
Examples include smiling, nodding, leaning forward, dropping shoulders and widening pupils. These are cues, she says, to lean into whatever direction elicited them. "Whatever ball you're carrying at that moment, run with it."
Compliment before criticizing.
Dr. Lupo says that as a woman, she finds it disturbing to hear of certain plastic surgeons in her locale who, when a young woman presents wanting her nose fixed, will painstakingly list $30,000 of work they believe she needs. The patient probably wasn't even considering these issues, says Dr. Lupo, and leaves the office feeling extremely depressed.
"You want to build people up. Don't break them down," she says.
Start by noting the patient's finest or "signature" feature. "Maybe it's their hair, nose or eyes. Maybe it's just their eyelashes. Everybody's got something. Maybe they've got great shoes. Throw the patient a bone before you put them through the meat grinder."
In other words, she says, find a common concern that bothers you and the patient and make that your initial mission. Additionally, Dr. Lupo recommends empathizing with the patient by relating your personal experiences, and showing patients relevant examples from procedures you've undergone and/or other age-appropriate patients.
Think globally, rejuvenate locally.
"Always explain the risks, benefits and, to a certain extent, costs of what you're proposing. Think big picture, because the best patients are the ones you already have in your practice." Providing comprehensive solutions and regular follow-up helps build long-term relationships, she adds.
Build a story.
Healthy skin and beauty are not a destination, but a journey, she says.