Dental and Medical Counsel Blog

Purchasing a Dermatology Practice Vs. Starting From Scratch

March 20, 2024
Dermatology, Dermatologist, Dermatology Lawyer, Dermatology Attorney

If you're a new dermatologist entering the field, you might be contemplating the ideal setup for your first job. Starting your own dermatology practice or purchasing an existing one are two potential paths to consider. Launching your practice from scratch requires building it up entirely, while buying an established dermatology practice involves a higher initial investment but offers the advantage of inheriting an existing facility, staff, and patient base. Making this decision is highly personal, but weighing the pros and cons is crucial. What are the key factors you should consider?  

Congratulations on taking the exciting step towards owning a dermatology practice! Whether you're exploring the acquisition of an existing practice or embarking on a startup journey, conducting thorough research is essential. In this article, we'll delve into everything you need to know, so stay tuned for valuable insights. And remember, don't hesitate to reach out if you need assistance. 

Buying a Dermatology Practice 

Firstly, you might be keen on discovering a dermatology practice for sale. Perhaps you're contemplating securing a loan to acquire an established dermatology practice in your vicinity. Alternatively, you could be considering stepping in for a dermatologist who is nearing retirement. 

The Pros 

There are numerous significant advantages associated with acquiring an existing dermatology practice: 

  • More Cash Flow: Purchasing an established practice often results in a steady cash flow from day one, provided thorough due diligence is conducted beforehand. With an existing patient load and manageable debt, you can expect a reliable stream of income immediately upon acquisition. 
  • Experienced Staff: Smooth transitions typically result in existing staff members remaining onboard, eliminating the need for extensive recruitment, hiring, and training. Their familiarity with the practice's operations and established patient relationships ensures seamless continuity of care. 
  • Proven Systems in Place: Acquiring an existing practice means inheriting operational infrastructure, including equipment and software programs. This eliminates the need for a complete overhaul of daily operations and allows you to leverage existing systems efficiently. 
  • A Strong Patient Base: Acquired practices often come with an established patient base. By maintaining a focus on delivering quality care, you can retain these patients and ensure continued practice growth. 
  • A Proven Market: Unlike starting a practice from scratch, acquiring an existing one provides assurance of a viable market. The presence of an established patient base demonstrates the demand for dermatological services in the area. 

These benefits streamline the process of practice ownership by alleviating the need to establish foundational elements from scratch. However, it's essential to consider significant drawbacks as well before making a decision. 

The Cons 

Several drawbacks accompany the purchase of an existing dermatology practice: 

  • Higher Initial Investment: A dermatology practice with a strong cash flow is inherently more valuable, leading to a higher purchase price. Compared to starting a practice from scratch, acquiring an established one typically requires a more substantial upfront investment. 
  • Maintenance and Upgrades: Older equipment and outdated software may necessitate significant investments in repairs, replacements, and upgrades to modernize the practice and ensure its competitiveness. Additionally, the physical space may require renovations to meet evolving standards and accommodate growing patient volumes.
  • Community Changes: The current location of the practice may no longer align with evolving community demographics or aesthetic standards. Changes in the surrounding area could affect the practice's visibility and accessibility, necessitating relocation or extensive marketing efforts to maintain relevance. 
  • Staff Relationships: While existing staff members may be inclined to stay, building rapport with long-standing employees can be challenging. Staff members may have established loyalty to the previous owner, making it difficult to foster new relationships and maintain cohesion within the team. 
  • Expansion Constraints: Acquiring a practice often involves long-term financial commitments, limiting resources available for practice expansion. If the practice has already reached its revenue ceiling or faces market saturation, expanding services may prove challenging, impacting future revenue potential.

Additionally, understanding why the current owner is selling the dermatology practice is crucial, as it can provide insights into potential operational challenges or market dynamics. While building a practice from the ground up may offer certain advantages, carefully weighing the benefits and drawbacks is essential before making a decision. 

Dermatology Lawyer, Dermatology Attorney

Starting a Dermatology Practice 

If you crave absolute autonomy and the ability to shape every aspect of your dermatology practice, the option of starting one from scratch may be appealing. However, embarking on this path requires donning the entrepreneurial hat and facing numerous challenges. From devising revenue-generation strategies to ensuring top-notch patient care, every facet of the practice demands meticulous attention. While this route offers unparalleled freedom and independence, it's imperative to carefully assess the benefits and drawbacks before determining if it aligns with your goals and aspirations. 

The Pros 

Opting to open your own dermatology practice offers numerous significant advantages, including: 

  • Choice of Location: You have the freedom to select the ideal location for your practice, whether it's in a familiar area or a new territory. Extensive research enables you to pinpoint the perfect spot to establish your practice. 
  • Customized Design: You have full control over the design of your practice, from the number of patient rooms to the selection of staff members and infrastructure. You can tailor every aspect according to your preferences before opening your doors. 
  • Access to New Technology: By starting fresh, you have the opportunity to invest in cutting-edge equipment and technology. From advanced medical tools to state-of-the-art software programs, you can ensure your practice is equipped with the latest innovations to enhance patient care. Additionally, you can integrate amenities like a video game system in the waiting room to enhance patient experience. 
  • Cost Efficiency: While starting a new business may seem daunting, it typically involves lower initial costs compared to purchasing an existing practice. Without the burden of a hefty loan for an established practice, you can allocate resources more efficiently and focus on building your practice from the ground up. 
  • Rent or Buy Options: You have the flexibility to decide whether to rent or buy a building for your practice. Purchasing a property can serve as a long-term investment, potentially increasing in value over time and providing financial stability. 
Ultimately, opening your own dermatology practice grants you full autonomy and ownership. From crafting your team and marketing strategies to selecting equipment and patient demographics, every decision rests in your hands, empowering you to shape your practice according to your vision and goals. 

The Cons 

However, starting a new dermatology practice also presents several challenges that you'll need to navigate: 
  • Lack of Cash Flow: When starting anew, it may take several years before you see a profit. You'll likely need to secure loans to cover equipment expenses and manage staff salaries, delaying your ability to pay yourself until the practice becomes profitable. 
  • Building Patient Base: Acquiring patients can be a daunting task initially. Without an established clientele, you'll need to invest time and effort in marketing and providing exceptional service to attract and retain patients, leading to a potentially slow buildup of appointments. 
  • Time Investment: Launching a practice requires significant time investment beyond patient care. Crafting a comprehensive business plan, managing administrative tasks, and overseeing operations can consume valuable time that could otherwise be spent seeing patients. 
  • Staff Recruitment: Assembling a capable team is essential, but finding qualified staff willing to commit to your practice at an affordable rate can be challenging. Identifying the right candidates and ensuring they align with your practice's values and goals requires careful consideration and effort.
  • Higher Risk: Starting a new practice entails greater risk compared to acquiring an established one. You'll need to assess your risk tolerance and consider whether you're prepared to navigate the uncertainties and challenges of building a practice from the ground up. 

Despite these obstacles, with careful planning, dedication, and perseverance, you can overcome the challenges of starting a new dermatology practice and build a successful and thriving business. 

Whether you opt to purchase an existing dermatology practice or embark on the journey of starting your own, both paths offer unique opportunities and challenges. Acquiring an established practice provides immediate cash flow, an existing patient base, and operational infrastructure, albeit at a potentially higher initial investment. On the other hand, starting from scratch grants you unparalleled freedom in location selection, practice design, and technology integration, albeit with the challenges of building a patient base and managing initial cash flow. Ultimately, the decision depends on your individual goals, risk tolerance, and vision for your dermatology practice. Whichever path you choose, thorough research, strategic planning, and a commitment to excellence will pave the way for a successful and rewarding career in dermatology practice ownership. 


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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the benefits of purchasing an existing dermatology practice?  
A: Acquiring an established practice offers immediate cash flow, an existing patient base, and operational infrastructure. 

Q: Is it more expensive to buy an existing practice or start a new one from scratch? 
A: Buying an existing practice typically involves a higher initial investment, whereas starting from scratch may require lower upfront costs. 

Q: What factors should I consider when deciding between buying or starting a dermatology practice? 
A: Factors to consider include your financial resources, risk tolerance, location preferences, and desired level of autonomy. 

Q: How long does it typically take to see a profit when starting a new dermatology practice? 
A: It may take several years before a new practice becomes profitable, as initial expenses and building a patient base can impact cash flow. 

Q: What challenges come with building a patient base for a new dermatology practice? 
A: Building a patient base from scratch requires significant investment in marketing, exceptional patient care, and time to attract and retain patients. 

Q: Can I customize the design and technology of my own dermatology practice? 
A: Yes, starting your own practice allows you full control over the design, technology integration, and location selection to align with your vision and goals. 

Q: What are the risks associated with starting a new dermatology practice? 
A: Starting a new practice entails higher risk compared to purchasing an existing one, including uncertainties in patient acquisition, cash flow management, and operational challenges. 

Q: How can I ensure success when starting my own dermatology practice? 
A: Success in starting your own practice requires thorough planning, strategic decision-making, dedication to patient care, and a commitment to excellence. 

Q: What role do professional advisors play in acquiring or starting a dermatology practice? 
A: Professional advisors, such as attorneys, accountants, and practice brokers, provide specialized expertise and guidance to navigate the complexities of practice acquisition or startup. 

Q: How can I determine if practice ownership is the right choice for me? 
A: Assessing your personal goals, financial resources, risk tolerance, and passion for dermatology practice ownership can help you determine if it's the right career path for you. 


At Dental & Medical Counsel, PC, we understand navigating the legal process can be tricky. We believe every doctor deserves the best advice and service so doctors can do what they do best, treat their patients. We make their lives easier by providing expert guidance, so they can focus on their personal and professional aspirations.

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About Ali Oromchian, Esq.

Ali Oromchian, JD, LL.M. is the founding attorney of the Dental & Medical Counsel, PC law firm and is renowned for his expertise in legal matters

In addition to practicing law for almost 20 years, Ali is also a renowned speaker, throughout North America, on topics such as practice transitions, employment law, negotiation strategies, estate planning, and more! Ali has helped hundreds of healthcare professionals realize their professional goals and looks forward to aiding you in navigating the legal landscape. 



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