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How to deal with your client’s ‘perception drift’


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Patients who have numerous aesthetic treatments run the risk of not remembering how they originally looked before treatment.


This dynamic is called ‘perception drift’, according to UK-based aesthetic practitioner, Dr Dianni Dai. She continues: “Patients tend to want to come back for more treatments, often in a short space of time, but cannot see the improvement or difference in their faces before the procedures. When a patient’s perceptions of the changes achieved after a series of cosmetic procedures become distorted, this is what we refer to as ‘perception drift’.


“Let’s say a patient has had filler in their lips to add volume. After the treatment, they look in the mirror and suddenly decide they need to fill their cheeks and chin to balance their lips. They then get that done but notice their jaw proportion is now off and want to get that done too. They would be exhibiting a drift as they have become constantly disappointed with their appearance, and are perceiving flaws that may not exist, or need to be addressed.”

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Dr Dai makes the point that injectables do alter the face to some degree, so with the human brain being highly adaptable to change, it can quickly adjust to a new appearance after treatments.


“The brain can forget an old appearance altogether or can skew judgment and perception of what is attractive. Being constantly exposed to tweaked or altered facial features makes it easier to prefer a more manipulated appearance.”


She has found that it’s not uncommon for patients to request more injections after a few weeks, but this should be considered carefully to make sure that the extra amount injected is still within the natural range. “Reputable providers or those with a conservative approach will advise patients to stop if more tweaks will make them lose their natural beauty.”

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Too many fillers or extreme procedures can lead to unnatural distorted features, or what is often perceived as an ‘alien’ face, notes Dr Dai. “This is often characterised by exaggerated lips, prominent and protruding cheeks, and unnaturally high-set eyebrows. Filters on social media can contribute to the distortion of how people perceive themselves and ask providers for treatments that lead to an unnatural look.”


In order to avoid this, Dr Dai suggests using photographs – compare current photographs to their ‘before’ photos in clinic. This way, they will be reminded of how they originally looked. This will highlight that improvements have been made.


“Use visual training techniques, such as getting the patient to look in front of a full-length mirror while describing each of their body parts non-judgmentally.


“Talk to your patients. Any qualified injector will understand and care about the feelings and concerns of their patients. Together, you can formulate a long-term goal, and advise them to stop when appropriate,” concludes Dr Dai.


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