Don't understand the Consultation Fee. What does it mean if one is Free, $50, or $125? (photo)

Told on phone to beware of free consults. I was told on the phone by an office to beware of free consultations. Is this true? I saw a doctor I was impressed by but it was a free consultation while another was $50 and then another $125. I know it can be applied to surgery. Just wondering why some are free and some cost, does it really mean anything? I am looking for an Elite Dr. in Dallas/East TX as I have a very severe abdominal separation as well as a previous hernia surgery (cut stalk) making it high risk to keep my belly button.

Doctor Answers 6

Don't understand the Consultation Fee. What does it mean if one is Free, $50, or $125?

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I do not charge for consultations, but I understand why some surgeons charge. Having said that, I do not understand the statement "beware of free consultations." If you do your homework, it is fairly easy to ascertain those who are the class of plastic surgery and those who are the pretenders.

Kenneth Hughes, MD

Los Angeles, CA

Consultation fee

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We do charge a consultation fee, the reason is, this assure us that the patient is serious about their research and their interest in surgery, we used to no charge a consultation fee, mainly because most of the surgeons in the area, do not charge it, but our no shows rate, was significant, after we started our policy of charging a consultation fee, our scheduling is significantly more efficient. Most patients schedule for their procedures, the fee is credited towards the surgery/procedure and at the end the consultation is free for the patients.

The fee for consultation is less that what a general practitioner charge for their patient visits.

We do provide a 30 to 45 minutes face to face consultation, so it is very important that the scheduling works as effectively as possible. Definitively it is not about charging for our time, we charge for the surgeries.

Don't understand the Consultation Fee. What does it mean if one is Free, $50, or $125? (photo)

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Basically NO, I was trained to not charge for the initial consultation back in 1980. It was to give the patient the opportunity to meet you and you to examine and discuss options. Some other PSs feel their time is reimbursable or fee generated. Whether $25 to $200 can be charged and applied to the surgery fees. Depending on the PS, the community, the practice ideals each PS choses to charge or not charge this initial fee. Yes I understand that it is my time but I believe WE (PSs) need to be available to examine, inform, understand each patients issues. It is not the $s but the opportunity to be not only a doctor but a PS. I enjoy examining and educating prospective patients. Others might feel their are wasting time but to each their own.. Therefore a no charge initial consult is NOT a BAD thing....

Should a consult cost money

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To be honest, I do not feel that my time is free so I therefore charge for a consult. I feel that a free consult cheapens a plastic surgeon but there are many out there who disagree. That being said, I deduct the price of the consult from the surgical fee so it ends up in the long run to be a free consult.

Free or paid consultations

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Every plastic surgeon has a different philosophy about whether to charge for cosmetic consultations. I do not. I agree that the marketing consultants have hyped the notion that we should charge for consults. Frankly, I make my money in the OR. I also feel that, since I turn away patients who do not fulfill the criteria for surgery, it is extremely difficult to take people's money only to explain why they should not have surgery. I believe that the consult fee can be off-putting. Yesterday, I saw a patient who had come to me in consultation almost two years ago and is finally ready to schedule an operation. I would prefer not to charge but to provide meaningful information rather than allowing patients to base their impressions solely on information discovered independently. In Manhattan, it is very chic to charge for consults and I am told that other doctors who offer free consults spend 5 minutes or less with the patients and let the "coordinators" do the heavy lifting. This is not my philosophy.

Consultation Fee. What does it mean if one is Free, $50, or $125?

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I wouldn't spend too much effort trying to understand. Many surgeons decide based on marketing consultants, some of whom suggest charging, some not. If you have patient recommendations, I would give priority to those surgeons rather than to consult fee.

In many communities, some of the busiest as most well known surgeons do not charge for consults, some do.

All the best.

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon

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.