Pretty as a website: examining aesthetics on nonsurgical cosmetic procedure websites

Adriane Grumbein, J. Robyn Goodman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Nonsurgical cosmetic procedures have increased 356 per cent from 1997 to 2011 (American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, 2011) and are now one of the fastest growing medical specialties in the US. Although these procedures may seem deceptively simple, they harbor serious potential for health complications. Yet, even though the majority of patients report turning to media, particularly websites, as a significant source of procedure information, little scholarly research has been devoted to nonsurgical cosmetic procedure marketing. Because these websites sell beauty, the elaboration likelihood model (ELM) suggests that aesthetics may play a crucial role in swaying potential patients. Sampling from the top 10 cities for nonsurgical cosmetic procedures, this study conducted a content analysis of 285 nonsurgical cosmetic procedure (NCP) websites to examine their use of aesthetics on the homepage and the top five procedure pages (Botox, dermal fillers, laser hair removal, laser skin resurfacing and chemical peels). Findings revealed the popularity of graphic elements (particularly a variety of logos), photographs (especially of people), cool and neutral colors and sans serif typefaces. The results also indicated that NCP websites vary their aesthetics based on the page type, with homepages displaying significantly more photos than individual procedure pages. Interestingly, differences were also found based on city ranking. NCP websites from cities ranked 1–5 used more dynamic visuals, logos, cool colors and people photographs, while websites from cities ranked 6–10 used more procedure photographs and warm colors. These findings may indicate the amount of local competition could influence NCP website aesthetics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-523
Number of pages39
JournalVisual Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 30 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, © The Author(s) 2015.


  • ELM
  • aesthetics
  • beauty
  • doctor
  • health
  • medical
  • online
  • visual communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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