How much does plastic surgery cost and how are the prices decided?
Many people interested in having plastic surgery to improve or repair their body are interested in learning how much these procedures cost before deciding whether it is right for them. Google searches for “breast augmentation cost” and “how much does rhinoplasty cost” are very common search terms and it is sometimes difficult to find accurate information. Published lists of average prices only include the surgeon's fee and may neglect to mention other costs like the operating room charges, anesthesiologist and implant fees. Published average costs include city surgeons and rural surgeons, brand new surgeons, and ones ready to retire, as well as those who charge top prices. So the averages posted tend to be lower than you might encounter in real life in a busy metropolitan or suburban practice. The last thing you want is to have a great consultation and be excited for surgery, only to find it costs twice as much as you planned. Wouldn’t it be helpful to know true costs prior to showing up for the visit?
Many practices advertise very low prices online, only to find that the consultation is not done by the doctor, and they only meet them on the day of surgery and there is little to no follow up care. These “bargain basement” surgeons are typically not certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, which is the only board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties to certify doctors in plastic surgery of the entire body, and of all age ranges and conditions. Surgeons must adhere to the highest standards of safety and ethics and have at least 5 years of rigorous, supervised residency training after medical school-- not just a one year fellowship in cosmetic surgery or worse yet, a weekend course. Certification matters, and when it comes to operating on your body, surgery is serious. It is important to choose training and experience over cost-- your life and health truly depend on it.
Here are some average price ranges for total true cost of common plastic surgery procedures in the United States in 2020:
How much does rhinoplasty cost? $7000-$15,500 is the range most people pay in total for a nose job in the U.S.
How much does a facelift cost? $9,000-$19,000 is the range most people pay for facelift or neck lift surgery in the U.S.
How much do breast implants cost? Breast augmentation total fees in the U.S. can range on average from $7,500-$12,500
How much does it cost to get a tummy tuck? Abdominoplasty fees can range from $7500-$16,000 depending on operating room time and other factors.
How much does a non surgical nose job cost with filler injection, also know as a “liquid rhinoplasty"? Prices range from $725-$1800. Lip filler injections with Juvederm, Restylane or other fillers average $525-$800.
Even though plastic surgery is often for beauty, it is something you will do only once or a few times in your lifetime. It is more like buying a car than getting a haircut. Even the most expensive procedures are not as expensive as the car you likely drove to the appointment! However, thinking about your surgery as a major investment in your health and well-being that adds to your quality of life does require a financial as well as emotional commitment.
So how are prices determined? Let’s start with one of the most popular procedures, breast augmentation with implants. In my practice, the total breast augmentation cost is $10,750 for most cases ( $13, 575 for augmentation and breast lift, and slightly more if fat grafting is requested). Here are the base costs that a medical practice faces:
- Silicone breasts implants $950 each= $1900
- Anesthesiologists may average $1000-2000. Their job is essential and your life is literally in their hands to keep you safe and pain free. Some practices use nurse anesthetists who cost a bit less.
- Operating Room fees include everything it takes to run a safe and licensed surgery facility. This includes so many important items: all the staff, pre and post op nursing, sutures, gloves, sterile supplies, surgical instruments (more expensive than you can ever imagine), sterile cleaning staff, rent, decor, insurance, licensing and certification fees, OR lights, tables, anesthesia machines, lasers, devices, computers, fiber optics, smoke and air flow management. Costs may average $1550-$3000 per case. An uncertified ORs, particularly in countries outside the US may have none of the above safety measures and are unlicensed.
- The baseline operating costs of the surgeon’s practice: rent, supplies, staff, insurance, loan costs, including medical school, marketing, IT and computers, averages $350- $550 an hour. Breast augmentation surgery, pre and post op and appointments may use a total of 4 hours of staff time, equaling average $1600.
So, for an average highly trained plastic surgeon, with a nice office, great staff and the top safety measures, the base cost can easily reach $6,000 before they have even paid themselves! If you were a plastic surgeon, what would you feel was a reasonable amount to earn for a surgery case? Consider that you are responsible for someone’s life, putting them under anesthesia, literally cutting them open and safely putting them back together again, all the while making them look beautiful. You also went through 15+ years of schooling, all at great expense and personal sacrifice. Being a surgeon also has significant risks- emotional stress, legal risk, and even health risks (blood exposure, smoke exposure). I bet you would feel that tens of thousands of dollars was the right answer- maybe even more! But those types of fees are not possible for the vast majority of patients. So each surgeon has to choose a fee based on what their community of patients can tolerate. For some, it may be as low as $3000 (about what a painter may charge to properly paint rooms in your house). I know of one surgeon in Manhattan who charges $20,000 and has a waiting list. In my practice, with 20+ years of experience, the total cost, including all the above fees, is just under $11,000 for breast implant surgery, and a bit more for rhinoplasty, breast reduction, abdominoplasty and facelifts. Is that worth it? That depends on each patient, their goals, desires and expectations. Realself.com survey of 5,400 people rates breast augmentation with an ASTONISHING 98% “WORTH IT” RATING.
I hope this article helps you better understand the costs of plastic surgery using breast implant surgery as an example. You can certainly find a wide range of prices, and just like housing costs, it can vary widely by location. My take home points are:
- Plastic Surgery done right has a certain base cost to it.
- Do not choose price before safety
- Certification matters- look for American Board of Plastic Surgeons certification or membership in either the American Society of Plastic Surgeons or American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. Be aware of claims of “double board certified” and ask what exactly they trained in.
- When done well, plastic surgery results can be wonderful and life transforming. When problems arise, it can be devastating. To be one of the 98% patients who find it “worth it”, choose a talented and compassionate surgeon who will listen to you and stand by you on your journey.
- Published plastic surgery prices often do not include anesthesia and operating fees, so true fees may be double the published amount
I hope this article has helped clarify common plastic surgery prices why the fees are what they are.
Posted by Dr. Michael Suzman, an New York Plastic Surgeon and rhinoplasty, facelift and breast surgery specialist who strives for the best outcomes possible for his patients. He is widely recognized for his outstanding care and results. His offices are in Westchester County NY, Greenwich CT, and WESTMED Medical Group has facilities in White Plains, Stamford, Norwalk and Rye NY. He also is affiliated with and an alumnus of Weill Cornell Medical College in Manhattan NYC.
Consults are only $125, and this fee can be applied to the cost of surgery. Our out of town patient program makes visiting the NY ad Greewich CT area easy for you. https://drsuzman.com/visiting-westchester-ny
You can find us on Instagram at SuzmanPlasticSurgery and