What You’re Actually Paying For When You Get Cosmetic Surgery

To help you to understand what you’re really looking at on your cosmetic surgery invoice, we’ve got a breakdown.
Written by India Bottomley
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What You’re Actually Paying For When You Get Cosmetic SurgeryDmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock

If you are considering cosmetic surgery, chances are you have become accustomed to the price ranges that we list in our procedure guides. Often, these ranges can be quite large and are caveated with a note that costs depend on location and provider. But regardless of where you decide to have your procedure, the price can be broken down into distinct categories. To help you to understand what you’re really looking at on your cosmetic surgery invoice, we’ve put together a general breakdown.

The Cost of Cosmetic Procedures

As we mentioned, most of the information you will find about cosmetic surgery costs is either based on national averages or a range as opposed to a fixed fee. Because most cosmetic procedures are considered ‘elective’ (i.e. not medically necessary), they are not usually covered by insurance and require patients to pay out of pocket. Once you start consulting with aesthetic providers, they will be able to give you more specifics about the amount you will end up paying.

With that in mind, below are the three main factors that make up the cost of a cosmetic procedure:

1. Surgical Fee

Your surgery invoice will, first and foremost, include a surgical fee, which is what your provider takes home. This fee is set by the surgeon and covers costs incurred to perform the procedure and run their medical office, including insurance, staff, rent, and other expenses. This fee can vary depending on your surgeon’s experience and expertise, as well as the size of their practice and its geographical location.

2. Anesthesia Fee

Similarly, the anesthesia fee is what the anesthesiologist gets paid and tends to only be a factor if general anesthesia is involved. It can vary based on their experience, the procedure, and the type of anesthesia administered, but it is generally agreed upon before surgery by the anesthesiologist or facility and the surgeon.

3. Facility Fee

The facility fee is a fixed fee that is set by the hospital or clinic where a procedure is taking place. It includes the cost of nursing care, drugs, medical materials, and procedure-specific items (think: implants) that will be used before, during, and after your treatment.

It should be noted that the first time you meet with an aesthetic provider, you may pay a consultation fee. Providers set their own consultation fee, and, if a patient chooses to move forward with the procedure, the fee will be applied toward the total cost of it.

If you have questions or concerns about the cost of a procedure, patients should feel free to have an open dialogue with their provider. They may be able to present different treatment options at varying price points. While not always the case, patients who choose to combine procedures (think: a facelift and blepharoplasty or tummy tuck and liposuction) sometimes save a bit of money, in addition to maximizing recovery time and enhancing results.

Additional Costs to Consider

Aside from the fees outlined above that relate directly to the procedure itself, there are additional expenses to consider before undergoing a cosmetic treatment or procedure. There are often preoperative and postoperative costs not captured in the surgical, anesthesia, and facility fees. These, too, vary by procedure type, but fall into the following categories:

Pre-Operative Care

Cosmetic surgery patients who will be placed under general anesthesia will likely be required to seek clearance from their primary care physician prior to surgery. This can include a chest x-ray, EKG, and basic blood work. These tests are carried out to spot any pre-existing conditions that would make the procedure more risky. There may be separate fees involved for each of these workups, so it’s worth inquiring about what tests will be required before you schedule your procedure. That way, you can price them out and budget accordingly.

Travel Expenses

If you are considering having a procedure with a provider who is not located nearby, you will want to explore the cost of traveling (both transportation and accommodations) to and from the facility. In addition to arriving in plenty of time before procedure day, you may need to stay close for days or weeks after the procedure to monitor healing. Depending on the procedure and downtime involved, you may also need to bring someone with you.

Recovery Care

Follow-up appointments and post-operative care may be needed in the days and weeks following a procedure. It can include pain management, removing sutures, and changing dressings, and it’s worth checking what is or is not included in your initial quote to avoid any unexpected fees. Additionally, you may want to invest in pillows, garments, or other items to make your recovery more comfortable, all of which come at an additional cost.

While recovering under the watchful eye of medical professionals is usually unnecessary (though some procedures may require overnight observation), many providers offer concierge services. For a separate fee, you may be able to stay in a recovery center or receive regular nursing care for the first few days of healing. Even if you choose to forgo additional care, be sure to consider the financial impact of your downtime and recovery. Depending on the procedure, you may need to take time off from work, arrange child care, and/or have a friend or loved one stay with you.

The Takeaway

When it comes to the cost of cosmetic surgery, the only constant is that there aren't many. While patients can expect to pay surgical, anesthesia, and facility fees, just how much those will be depends on the procedure, provider, and location. Additionally, there are several costs (pre- and post-op care, travel expenses, etc.) that are not captured by those fees but should be considered. Consulting with your provider will ensure you receive the best treatment plan for your needs.

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INDIA BOTTOMLEYis a contributing writer for AEDIT.

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