Is the price of beauty too high? Is the cost of that face lift, tummy tuck, liposuction, breast augmentation, hair transplant or other cosmetic procedure you want out of your price range? Do you spring for the $20,000 surgery cost or buy that new car you need? Don’t lose hope! While you should never sacrifice your health to save money, there are many ways to get what you want for a more affordable price.
Keep in mind that some plastic surgery procedures may be at least partially covered by your health insurance. Nose surgeries like rhinoplasty, breast reductions and upper eyelid reductions are some of the more common procedures that may meet your health insurer’s requirements for coverage. Be sure to check this out before you make your decision for surgery.
1. Cheap cosmetic surgery can be as simple as location, location, location!
In the U.S., the cost of the surgery can be quite different from one region to another. For example, total cosmetic surgery costs in rural Montana will most likely be lower than in New York City, where rent and overhead are more expensive.
According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the most expensive region of the country for most cosmetic procedures is usually the Northeast (CT, DC, DE, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT). This is closely followed by the Western States (AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, WA, WY). You may, however, find cheap cosmetic surgery prices in the Midwest and Southern regions of the country.
Consider, however, that you may still find cheap cosmetic surgery prices in areas of the Northeast and West where there are a large number of cosmetic surgeons and practitioners competing for your business. Be sure to comparison shop. If you live in a rural area, compare local prices with those of surgeons in the nearest big city. If you have the ability to travel, you can potentially save large sums.
2. Qualifications of the cosmetic surgeon
You may find that cosmetic surgery prices may depend somewhat on the expertise of the plastic surgeon. The more experienced the surgeon is, the more expensive the services may be. The surgeon is entitled to increase fees based on the level of prestige he/she has attained. But don’t assume that higher prices automatically signify higher quality. The best plastic surgeons in America are not always the most expensive.
Most cosmetic surgery procedures are safe when done by a properly trained and board-certified plastic surgeon. To minimize the risk of disastrous complications from any of these procedures, you should do your homework and choose a plastic surgeon that has proper training and a significant amount of experience. Always ask to see before and after photos and get as much information about the procedure as possible. It’s not worth subjecting yourself to devastating health problems at the hands of an improperly trained physician.
3. Choose the right time and bring a friend
Interestingly, many cosmetic surgery clinics claim that their business slows down when school is out of session. This is probably because patients prefer to deal with their surgeries and recovery while their children are occupied in school during the day. As with any business, you may find cheap cosmetic surgery prices during these slow times. An easy way to keep track of special offers is to subscribe to your surgeon’s e-mail newsletter, if offered. Always check their website.
If your schedule is very flexible, another good option is to put yourself on your surgeon’s “stand-by” list. Plastic surgeons usually must schedule operating rooms, anesthesiologists and nurses far ahead of time. If patients cancel, the surgeon still must pay the fees for the reserved space and specialists. If you volunteer as a stand-by patient, your surgeon may reduce your costs.
Do you have a friend or family member who wants the same procedure? Take them with you! Cheap cosmetic surgeries can sometimes be obtained if the surgeon can save by doing a single consultation instead of two, one follow-up visit covering you and your friend, or maybe the two of you can share a recovery room for a lower price.
Talk to your surgeon to negotiate a discount. Discounts of up to 25% are not uncommon in these situations and can result in some large savings.
4. Cash is king for cheap cosmetic surgery
Yes, most surgeons accept credit cards. However, the surgeon will have to pay an additional fee to the credit card company when he/she accepts this form of payment. These fees can be hefty; so many surgeons will offer you a discount of up to 5% when you pay by cash or check. If you can swing it, consider paying for your surgery in cash instead of financing it.
5. Undergo cheap cosmetic surgery at a teaching hospital
It is possible to have cheap cosmetic surgery performed at your regional teaching hospital. Begin your search with plastic surgery departments at universities near you. Teaching hospitals provide training for residents (licensed medical doctors who are in training to become board-certified in a particular specialty). Plastic surgery residents will perform these surgeries under the supervision of board-certified doctors but the costs will be less expensive.
6. Travel to an overseas clinic for cheap cosmetic surgery
You will find cheap cosmetic surgery abroad if you are willing to travel. Many physicians in other countries are equally well-trained, but their costs are lower because their cost of living, office and equipment expenses are significantly lower than in the U.S. You may find cheap cosmetic surgery in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Hungary, India, Mexico, Philippines or Thailand at prices that are 25% to 30% lower, even with the added cost of travel and lodging.
In fact, some foreign clinics offer “all inclusive” packages that include luxury accommodations. For example, a clinic in South Africa offers to include a safari while you recover and rejuvenate after surgery. Even with the extra travel costs you can, for example, have a face lift done in South Africa for approximately $4,500 compared to about $10,000 in the U.S. And, even if the costs are equal, you may get the benefit of having a lovely resort destination thrown in, something you would never get at home.
Search the internet for “foreign plastic surgery”, “medical tourism”, “overseas cosmetic surgery” and similar search phrases for more information. Maybe you can enjoy a vacation on a beautiful Caribbean island while you recover from your cosmetic surgery!
7. Undergo multiple procedures for cheap cosmetic surgery
Take advantage of some lower prices by scheduling several procedures at one time instead of spreading them out. This would allow your surgeon to spend less time with you on follow-up and may result in savings up to 10%.
8. Breast augmentation? Consider saline instead of silicone gel for cheap cosmetic surgery
Consider opting for saline breast implants instead of silicone gel implants for your breast augmentation surgery. The cost of breast implants ranges from $800 to $1,000 per pair for saline implants and $1,800 to $2,000 per pair for silicone gel implants. If you are looking for cheap cosmetic surgery, saline implants are clearly the way to go to save about $1,000. Some women believe that silicone gel implants feel more like real breasts, but leaking can pose a greater risk. Women who decided on saline implants report being satisfied with their choice.
9. Take advantage of manufacturer discounts for cheap cosmetic surgery
When you are having a procedure such as a chin or breast implant, the cost of the implant itself may vary from one manufacturer to another. It your surgeon uses the implants in large quantities (such as saline breast implants), he/she may also be able to purchase them in bulk at a lower price. Ask your surgeon to consider passing along the savings to you.
10. Is there such a thing as “free” cosmetic surgery?
It’s unlikely that you will find a reputable plastic surgeon who is giving away free surgery in a contest or raffle. It is also against medical ethics for a surgeon to perform a free procedure on a patient in return for publicity. However, some surgeons will give you a discount if you are willing to talk to the press about his or her procedure and permit the use of your before an after photos. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
Also, if you are considering breast augmentation, there is a very controversial method of finding cheap breast implants through the “free breast implants” website. Basically, you sign up on the site, posts your photos and a description of the type of implants you want, and ask for financial assistance from male members of the website to fund the cost of your surgery. A male sponsor or benefactor can donate toward the cost of the surgery. Carefully consider the long-term consequences of providing personal photos and information to strangers via the internet or what other strings may be attached to arrangement like this.
Inexpensive surgery may not necessarily result in an unsafe or sub-standard procedure, but cheap cosmetic surgery should not be your only goal. You don’t want to suffer the consequences of plastic surgeons that take risky shortcuts or compromise safety to offer low prices. Choose a plastic surgeon with experience, training and, preferably, board certification. Consider your options carefully. Your health should always be your most important priority.