The More Expensive the Plastic Surgery, the Better the Results?

By buying a house, an auto or a watch it is normally so: the more you pay, the more you get. Is that valid when choosing a plastic surgeon or is it more likely a placebo effect? For instance, is there a real difference between a $5000 rhinoplasty and a $25000 one?

Doctor Answers 10

Price of Plastic Surgery - Don't Compromise Safety or Results by Looking for a Bargain

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Plastic surgeons will have different prices based on their education and training, as well as the results they are able to provide for their patients.  Additionally, some low-priced plastic surgeons can cut a lot of corners when it comes to the plastic surgeon, his training and expertise, surgical environment and surgical staff, you want the best. . This is not a wise way to save money.
The most expensive surgeon may not be the best. But the lowest priced surgeon is almost certainly cutting corners. The price for any plastic surgery includes a surgeons fee. A very highly trained experienced surgeon who can demonstrate wonderful results through many many photographs will often have higher prices. Other things to take into consideration are the surgical facility, the surgical team, and the anesthesiologist. What about post-operative appointments? There is much to consider. You have one face and one body. Don't select a plastic surgeon to perform a permanent change based on a low price 

 The following are a few things that can distinguish some surgeons from others

1) Graduating from a top tier medical school at the top of their class.

2) Membership in Alpha Omega Alpha. This is the medical honors society. Alpha Omega Alpha is to medicine what Phi Beta Kappa is to undergraduate universities. 

3) Formal surgical training from prestigious medical universities. The minimum number of years of surgical training for plastic surgeons to be bord certified in five years. Some physicians have as many as ten years of formal surgical training. There simply is no substitute for stelar academic and practical surgical training.

4) Very experienced surgeons with meticulous surgical technique and natural looking outcomes will have photgraphic evidence of their work. Patients should be able to view many photos of the surgery of interest, photgraphed from three different perspectives all with similar lighting, distance from the camera and cropping

The elite experience extends beyond the surgeon to the facility, and the surgical team. You should be able to see the surgical theater and know who else will be in the OR with you during surgery. The Joint Commission (JCAHO) is an organization that provides certification to hospital OR's. The Joint Commission and AAAASF are two of the organizations that can provide certification to surgical suites. Some plastic surgeons, myself included, elect to have their surgery centers dually certified.

The anesthesia experience is critical to a safe and comfortable surgical experience. A board certified anesthesiologist can administer general or MAC anesthesia. My preference is to have a board-certified anesthesiologist at the bedside of my patients for the duration of surgery.

Plastic surgeons who cater to high profile individuals who place a high value on privacy will have a private first floor entrance and exit so patients never need to be in a public lobby or elevator for pre-operative or post operative visits.

Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 123 reviews

Is a Surgeon Who Charges More, Better?

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I think that surgeon's fees are the most variable part of surgery. For instance a saline breast augmentation in Northern Virgina is anywhere from $4800 to $8000. Are the higher charging surgeons any better? Or are their egos just bigger? Usually the second is more the case. Some surgeons look at how much they have to make on each case to meet accounts payables. Others look as how much they think they're worth per hour. I tend to look at how difficult the surgery is price according to that.

There are expensive surgeons who are bad and less expensive surgeons who are very good. It's how you feel about your surgeon that matters.

Higher price does not always mean better quality.

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There is no definitive answer. Generally a surgeon who charges alot does so because he/she is in demand but that does not necessarily make them good. Such is the case with the "plastic surgeon" who injected Priscilla Presley. It was recently discovered that he did not even hold a valid medical license let alone have a plastic surgery degree, He apparently was charging up to $7000 for silicone injections. This is quite an outlandish price but it does not mean that he was great,

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

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Expense vs. Experience

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As with most things in life, this mantra does not hold necessarily true with plastic surgery. Expensive surgical fees are often attributed to the surgeon’s geographic location, surgical center, and other such expenses that are incorporated into the price of a cosmetic procedure. Though seasoned surgeons tend to charge more for their experience, price is by no means a direct reflection of the quality of work provided. 

Yael Halaas, MD
Manhattan Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

The more expensive the plastic surgery, the better the results?

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Hello! Thank you for your question.  Cost will vary among plastic surgeons as well as with geographic location and what procedures exactly they will be providing to you.  Your reasoning is not completely valid.  Certainly, researching a board certified plastic surgeon well-versed in the procedure(s) you desire is recommended - checking the American Board of Plastic Surgery is a great start. Consult with two or more surgeons who you are happy with their postoperative photographs and those who you, most importantly, feel comfortable and confident with. Use the opportunity to ask questions as well as visit with staff and investigate the accredited facilities they work out of.  I believe fellowship-training, beyond the core plastic surgery residency to be important, as that surgeon has gone above and beyond to seek additional training specific to that area of interest and chosen to gain additional expertise in that area.   

Experience should not be measured solely by the age of the surgeon or how many years s/he has been in practice.  Checking the education and training is more valuable - a Board Certified MD plastic surgeon who was accepted to and completed an integrated plastic surgery residency, in today's day and age, are excellent choices. Those are the top students who have superior training at top institutes.  Plastic Surgery is NOT a is a residency. Those surgeons who have actually successfully completed additional fellowship training beyond the plastic surgery residency are also passionate about that area and will likely have the most recent, innovative, and up to date techniques. These are usually the younger surgeons, who are still readily willing and competent to continue to strive for the newest material and remain up to date on literature and conferences. 

You must decide for yourself who you are most comfortable with and confident with who will meet your goals and expectations. Cost may differ just on expertise and the aforementioned additional training ad what that additional expertise training has afforded to his/her patients.  Hope that this helps!  Best wishes!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Surgeon's fees

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Surgical fees will vary dramatically across the country and even in the same city. Beware of surgeon's fees which are not dramatically higher or lower than the norm for your area. If it is too high, then the surgeon may have lost passion in performing surgery. If it is too low, then the surgeon may be cutting corners and sacrificing quality/safety.  

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Plastic Surgery Fees

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Yes and no. You can get good plastic surgery for less and bad plastic surgery for more. It really depends on who does your surgery.

Just remember: look for a plastic surgeon that you feel comfortable with and look at the before and after and the work they have done. The last thing you look at is the price. You are having surgery on your body and is a life long investment, so dont go price shopping, go surgeon shopping!

Farbod Esmailian, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 88 reviews

Fees and plastic surgery

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While the highest fee for surgery in a given area of the country does not always guarantee a perfect or better result, the opposite may be more likely. Cheap surgery in a given area of the country may be cheap for a good reason to encourage people to come to that specific doctor and more likely an inexperienced one.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Plastic Surgery Fee Variation

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No. Results are not directly correlated with the price of surgery.

Plastic surgery fees vary based on several factors including:

  • geography
  • specific cosmetic procedure
  • potential insurance coverage for part of procedure
  • difficulty of procedure
  • special equipment or implants
  • training and expertise of plastic surgeon
  • reputation of plastic surgeon

The surgeon's fee is just one factor which affects the decision in choosing a plastic surgeon for cosmetic surgery. One must look at everything. Best of luck.

Houtan Chaboki, MD
Washington DC Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 89 reviews

Many considerations go into any particular surgeon's fees

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Hi there-

In general, a surgeon's fees will reflect the following variables:
- Geography... you should always expect to pay more for goods in services in regions where the cost of living is greater
- Reputation... If a surgeon is known for outstanding results in breast surgery (or any
other procedure or technique), you should probably expect to pay more for his/her
expertise in this area.
- Ancillary costs...
Too often, I'm afraid, patients fall into the trap of thinking that we are all educated and trained equally, when this is far from true. There is a great deal of
benefit to you in seeking out a surgeon Certified by The American Board of Plastic
Surgery. The fees charged by such a well trained plastic surgeon may be a bit higher than if you were to have your procedure performed by one of the many other doctors and providers now attempting to perform aesthetic surgery, but in the end their higher level of education and training, to say nothing of their experience, will
be more likely to give you the outcome you desire, and keep you safe. You would never think of letting me (as a plastic surgeon) remove your gallbladder- why would you have plastic surgery performed by someone who did not do a Plastic Surgery residency?
I also believe that patients too rarely ask about the other significant details of their procedure- details that could mean the difference between a lovely and safe outcome and procedure and unnecessary risk and dissatisfaction. Specifically, I am referring to the training and experience of the anesthesia provider and the quality and level of certification of the facility in which the procedure is to be performed.
If one of my loved ones were to have surgery, I would want to be sure that the anesthesia was to be performed by a Doctor, board certified by The American Board of Anesthesiology, and that the facility was accredited by AAAASF, AHCA, or another national certifying body. It's amazing to me how often I see people after they have had a terrible experience and outcome from "plastic surgery" performed elsewhere- only to learn that the patient didn't do their homework-- and found out only after the procedure that their "plastic surgeon" was actually an eye doctor (for example), and that their procedure had been performed in an exam room (under questionably sterile conditions). In these situations, the old adage that you will get what you paid for is generally true.
Finally, I think choosing a surgeon is a bit perplexing to some because they are confused as to what exactly they are getting for their money and time. Are you paying for the outcome? The experience? The surgeon's education, training, and time? The quality of the facility and the (hopefully) excellent treatment you will receive from the staff of the facility you've chosen?
The answer should be all of the above. In the best offices, you WILL be treated respectfully and warmly, and have the luxurious experience you desire. You will have maximum attention paid to your safety, with well-maintained equipment and well-trained practitioners at every step. And, you will have the best chance of achieving the outcome you desire, because you chose your surgeon, your anesthesiologist, and your facility carefully. But you should NOT assume that just because someone is offering to do something for you, that these things are true.
Now, just as with the auto or the watch you refer to in your question, producing this higher level of quality costs money.... You would never think it reasonable to demand to pay for a TIMEX but receive a ROLEX (or you at least would expect to be turned down)- in other words, most reasonable people expect quality to cost more, and this is true of the professional services we provide, just as it is true of autos and watches.
But the only way to assess the quality of the item (in this case plastic surgery) you are purchasing is to ASK about the surgeon's education, training, credentials, and experience. ASK about who will be giving you anesthesia. ASK about the facility and its credentials. ASK to see the finished product- examples of the surgeon's work (ask if it is really theirs- unfortunately some show photos of OTHER surgeon's patients!), and ASK to speak to former patients. Only after you have had answers to all of these questions will you be able to make a decision about whether or not the fees being asked by that surgeon are reasonable for the service you believe you will be receiving.
Good luck!

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.