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The Secrets to Successful Intakes

Contact Author Terri Wojak, True U University
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The consultation is the most important part of any esthetic treatment. This is where key information is gathered to perform a safe and successful treatment. In addition, the provider will also gain a deeper understanding of the client’s perception and goals for her skin. Thorough completion of the medical intake form is the provider’s first-step in ensuring the client’s overall safety and well-being.

It is important to note that some clients don’t take the time to thoroughly read every question. For example, you may see one long mark through all the yes or no questions. In this case especially, re-asking the important questions is vital to a safe and successful consultation. Provided here you will find a general esthetic intake form including information on past treatments, potential contraindications and health history. Also, detailed below are the musts for medical spa intake forms.

Identification

An intake form should have information including the client’s full name, address, e-mail address and phone number. This is a standard for intake forms of any kind, but it is a good practice to also photocopy the client’s driver’s license or form of identification. This can help prevent fraud and help when addressing the client.

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The form should also have emergency contact information, as well as primary care physician, in case an incident should occur. There are several things that can happen including a fall, passing out or an allergic reaction. A magnifying lamp or steamer could come loose and fall on the client, a cut can occur or an unlikely mishap could take place. This makes the first part of the intake form most vital to ensure proper care by a physician and/or family member if something were to happen to the client in your treatment room.

Medical Conditions

After the client has completed the intake form, it should be reviewed by the provider. It is crucial to go over medical conditions with each client because people today are stressed, hurried, distracted by phones or consumed by other things. With these distractions, a client can easily forget that she started antibiotics for the flu a week ago and it slipped her mind.

Some clients, although not currently pregnant, are in the process of trying and may not think to mention it. If a client is trying to conceive, there are several products and services that should be avoided.

It is imperative that the provider is aware of serious medical conditions including auto-immune disorders, cancer or diabetes. Conditions such as these often cause poor wound healing, making certain treatments contraindicated. It is especially important to avoid risks at all costs with these clients. If there is ever any question, the client should be cleared by her treating physician before proceeding.

The provider should be alert to other conditions that may be contraindications for services including epilepsy as well as any implants (i.e., pacemakers, ports, metal plates, etc.). The provider should specifically ask about these contraindications, especially if any electrical modalities are to be used.

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Medications

The provider must be familiar with commonly used medications—oral and topical. For instance, if the client is using prescription medications topically, there is likely a skin condition that accompanies it. Eczema and psoriasis are among the many inflammatory skin disorders that must be treated with additional care.

It is not uncommon for clients to come in for treatment with a transmissible skin disorder unaware of the harmful consequences. Clients may be uninformed of the adverse effects that can occur while using topical prescription medications, including tretinoin, other retinoids or high percentage hydroxy acids to fight the signs of aging and/or control acne. Additional acne medications such as benzoyl peroxide/clindamycin and several others can also sensitize the skin.

Treatments performed while on certain internal medications can also prove to be harmful.

Blood thinning medications are one example of the increased risk of combining medications with advanced treatments. Blood thinners can increase the chance of petechia or bruising from microdermabrasion, as well as the possibility of excess bleeding if nicked during dermaplaning. Microneedling performed in a medical setting is also a contraindication for those on blood thinning medications. It is vital for providers to familiarize themselves with specific antibiotics and other medications that increase the risk of skin sensitivity to choose the appropriate treatment.

Allergies

Allergic reactions are becoming increasingly common; therefore, while reviewing the intake form with the client, ask about specific allergies again. For example, I had a regular client who I treated monthly for about a year. At one point, she came in wanting a chemical peel as opposed to her usual facial. Her form stated she had no allergies. I asked her again if she was allergic to anything and she responded “no.” We were catching up, and as I was about to put the salicylic acid peel on her face she said, “Ya know, it’s funny that you asked about allergies … one time I came close to death from an aspirin allergy so severe that it put me into anaphylactic shock.” That should make providers think twice before applying a product that is a common allergenic without asking twice.

Common allergies to be aware of are listed on the sample intake form.

The Consultation

The consultation is the part of the process that is vital to success in an esthetic environment. Speaking at eye level helps to comfort the client, instead of looking down on them when talking. Following a thorough review of the medical intake form, the first step is to find out the client’s main concerns. Start with determining their primary reason for the visit, as well as additional concerns they wish to address in the future. The client’s expectations should then be discussed. Are they realistic or unrealistic? The client should be aware of the estimated time frame to reach her desired results; always under-promise and over-deliver. This is critical role to building a client’s trust. For example, if a client thinks that her acne will be cleared after the first treatment, it is best not to treat her.

Does your client have any upcoming events or vacations? Following certain treatments, the client must avoid any sun exposure anywhere from two weeks to several months. Ask about any recent use of depilatories or waxing. Clients should avoid waxing five days before and after treatment. Find out about their physical activity as well, as certain procedures can increase their risk of adverse reactions including blistering or post-inflammatory pigmentation.

A discussion with the client about past treatments and/or products is necessary to gauge what should be recommended. What results were achieved? How happy where they with the treatments? Did the previous treatments treat their primary concern or maintain the skins integrity? How did their skin react (peeling, irritation, etc.)? What was their healing time? Find out if they allowed themselves enough time for proper healing. Were there side effects from the treatment? Determining their satisfaction rate is important in choosing the right path for the client.

Use the Information

The importance of a proper intake form and consultation cannot be overstated. Asking questions should be more than a routine. As an esthetician, it is imperative to know why we are asking such questions and how they could affect a treatment.

Many of us focus on just getting the information without actually knowing what to do with it. Estheticians should never give medical advice, but we need to know what to watch for and how to alter treatments to provide safe and effective protocols.

Terri Wojak

Terri A. Wojak, a licensed esthetician of 20 years, is an authority on skin care in a medical setting, education and business. She is director and educator at True U Esthetics, co-author of Mastering Medical Esthetics and author of Aesthetics Exposed: Mastering Skin Care In A Medical Setting and Beyond. She is also a member of the Skin Inc. Editorial Advisory Board.

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