$5,200 Tummy Tuck - Why is the Surgeon's Fee So Low?

After 3 babies, I need an umbilical hernia repair and might combine this with a tummy tuck. I have spoken with 2 surgeons; one was over $8100 total cost (surgeon fee $5500) and the other was $5200 total(surgeon fee $2200). The latter fee seems too low but is affiliated with a top notch teaching hospital (top 25 in the nation) where the surgery is done. Surgeon is board certified too and has 14 years experience in plastic surgery. Why would the fee be so low? Should I be concerned?

Doctor Answers 10

$5,200 - Why is the Surgeon's Fee So Low?

I have never seen a study that suggested the cost of a cosmetic surgical procedure was in any way related to the quality of the outcome! If you have verified the background and training of the surgeon and were satisfied with his/her interaction with you then I would not have any concerns about the lower cost. If you can, view some pre and post op photos, talk to prior patients, check website ratings, and get any input you can from friends or medical professionals who can give you recommendations on any surgeon before proceeding with surgery.

Columbus Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Different price quotes for a tummy tuck

Prices do vary among plastic surgeons and in various areas across the country. From what you described and what other plastic surgeon respondents suggested, this far lower fee may be related to the fact that the surgery is being perfomed in a teaching hospital. The fee can be this low to encourage patients to have their surgery performed here in order to assist in the training of plastic surgery and other residents. Another reason, somewhat related, is that these same residents may be performing portions or more of your procedure.

You should inquire of the attending plastic surgeon that you mentioned and ask if he/she will be performing the entire procedure or supervising its performance. Then, you can make your decision on what to do ... or obtain another consult.

Steven Turkeltaub, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Low Fee For a Tummytuck

Fees for procedures may vary a great deal.  I suggest that you make sure that you are comparing apples to apples with respect to what procedures each surgeon is going to perform.  Also make sure that that surgeon is the one performing it.  Often a surgeon at a teaching hospital will oversee residents doing the procedures and the fees are significantly reduced as a result.  Lastly, ask to speak with other patients that have had the same procedure done, and then find out from them what their procedure cost and if they were happy with their outcome.

Gary D. Breslow, MD, FACS
Paramus Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Variation in Surgeons' Fees

There is a lot of variation in surgical fees among different surgeons which is largely geographical.  You are correct in questioning such a wide difference assuming that both surgeons are located in the same area.  One explanation may be that many academic surgeons (UNC, Duke, etc.) have their incomes supplemented by the universities for their teaching responsibilities.  The costs in both NC and KY are almost always going to be a good deal less than in NYC, LA, etc.

John Whitt, MD (retired)
Louisville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

You should make your decision based on referral ,credential and experience

The fee fir procedure is based on many factors and high fee or low fee does not mean your surgeon is good or bad. The fee is based on demand.

Kamran Khoobehi, MD
New Orleans Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 124 reviews

Personal Decision

Surgeons working at a University Hospital are usually salary based. Therefore maybe they can afford to have lower rates. Be sure to check the doctors credentials and his past work, if they satisfy you I do not see any reason not to have your surgery in teaching hospital by an university surgeon.

Ivan Thomas, MD (retired)
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Check results

Plastic surgery is all about the results.  If the results/pictures of the surgeon are appealing to you, if they have a good reputation then you should not put too much stock on the price differences.  There are things that can make a difference such as geographic location, use of a pain pump, use of an anesthesiologist versus nurse anesthetist, etc.

Leonard Hochstein, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 205 reviews

Different fees may indicate you are getting a different service

The difference in fees is significant but should not scare you away. You need to find out what exactly you are getting for your money, and don't be afraid to ask your surgeons about it. As the other surgeons answered, the most likely reason for the difference may be that the university surgeon will bring you into the teaching program where he will peform the surgery with residents or oversee residents performing this surgery. All plastic surgeons have gone through this process, it is how we learn to perform these procedures. Under the supervision of an experienced surgeon. Sincerely, Martin Jugenburg, MD

Martin Jugenburg, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 469 reviews

Low surgeon's fee--Is there something fishy here?

My colleagues are right to advise comparing exactly what your fees cover. Please verify that the "low" quote is for actual fees rather than "estimated" fees. Sometimes the reality of the actual bills are substantially different, and when questioned, the doctor may say "Oh, the total was for the surgery part, not the hospital or anesthesia part!" But you are rightly concerned about the apparent disparity in the quoted surgeon's fee. Is the second surgeon going to submit part of your procedure to insurance as "panniculectomy?" You probably gave insurance information when you first spoke with the surgeon's office and arranged your consultation. Sometimes this means you will get a co-pay bill or deductible bill from your insurance company. Just thoughts, but things to be aware of!

Most likely, the second surgeon's fee is lower because of the teaching hospital affiliation, where your surgery will likely be performed by a surgeon in training (we all had to learn somewhere) and "supervised" by the surgeon whose credentials you checked. Nothing wrong with this, but perhaps you should be aware that usually you get what you pay for!

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 255 reviews

Price for Surgery

Prices for cosmetic surgery vary from city to city and surgeon to surgeon.  The fees you describe are very low.  You may want to enquire about who is doing the surgery.  If you are at a teaching hospital, you be having your surgery done as part of a teaching program, where the residents or fellows are actually performing the surgery.  Not sure.  Only you can decide if you are happy with the consultation and the circumstances.  Also, make sure they explain fully any other charges, such as hospital fees, anesthesia fees, etc.


Good Luck

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

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.