This Article Has Been Medically Approved By

Dr. George H. Sanders

One thing the ongoing recession has taught me – Even though people may not be able to afford plastic surgery, they still want it! How then can a patient have their cake and eat it too – have plastic surgery, but pay only what you can afford? Here are a few tips gleaned from my years of experience as a board certified plastic surgeon. How can you best whittle down the price for that operation that you can’t, or don’t, want to live without?


• Do your homework! Know exactly what it is that you want to improve. Otherwise you may find yourself with a long list of procedures that the plastic surgeon suggests to improve your appearance and that drive up the price, but don’t really make you any happier.

• Refer a patient or two to the doctor before your consultation. A doctor is much more likely to reduce the fees for someone who supports his/her practice.

• Be willing to have your surgery “on call.” Suggest to the doctor that should they have an unexpected opening in their surgery schedule, you would be willing to take that opening with little or no advance notice. For that concession on your part, there may be a reduction in the surgical fee.

• Team up with a friend who also wants to have plastic surgery. If the two of you wish to have surgery with the same doctor, you can ask the doctor for a fee reduction for the two of you. Don’t expect anything of the order of 2 operations for the price of one, though!

• Be willing to do a bit less than you ideally want. Say, for instance, you want to improve your neck. The doctor tells you that ideally, you would undergo a neck lift for the best result. Ask about a lesser procedure that would still give a good outcome even if it is not ideal. If one exists, you might wish to consider the less involved and less expensive procedure. I am not advocating having a procedure that will not give a good result, but sometimes having an 80% improvement is better than no improvement at all.

• Offer to pay cash. There is usually a small discount for this.

• Don’t be afraid to bargain. Although this doesn’t always work – it never works for me at Neiman-Marcus – you may get a bit off of the fee. In these tough economic times, you may be more successful than you think!

• Think of doing surgery in the slow times of a doctor’s practice. For some plastic surgeons, the fall (October & November) and early spring (February & March) may be times when they are finding their surgical schedules tough to fill. You may be able to negotiate a lower fee.

• Be willing to undergo the procedure under local anesthesia, thus eliminating the anesthetist’s fee. Obviously some procedures require more than local anesthesia, but others can be equally well done such as upper eyelid surgery, liposuction in small areas, ear setback surgery, and others. Ask the plastic surgeon about this possibility at your consultation.

• Consider choosing a plastic surgeon who is in a “less expensive” area code. Let’s face it – the overhead is less in Palmdale than in Beverly Hills and that is certainly a part of what you pay for when you choose to have surgery in the 90210 zip code!

A final word of advice – Do not expect any of these tips to work in my practice. I’m giving you the tips to help you in other offices. I know these secrets and my patient scheduler is totally impervious to your attempts to reduce our already exceedingly reasonable fees! ☺ We feel your economic pain and have adjusted our fees to the maximal degree already!!

Do you have any other ideas that may have worked for you or your friends? Add a comment.

For any further information, please contact my office.

George Sanders, M.D.