This paper presents an improved theoretical description of the mode-mismatched thermal lens effect using models that account for heat transport both within the sample and out to the surrounding coupling medium. Analytical and numerical finite element analysis (FEA) solutions are compared and subsequently used to model the thermal lens effect that would be observed using continuous laser excitation. FEA model results were found to be in excellent agreement with the analytical solutions. The model results show that heat transfer to the air coupling medium introduces only a minor effect when compared with the solution obtained without considering axial air-sample heat flux for practical examples. On the other hand, the thermal lens created in the air coupling fluid has a relatively more significant effect on the time-dependent photothermal lens signals.