Anyone who has ever contemplated a cosmetic procedure has been drawn up short by the costs. How those costs are presented can be misleading, however. When a surgeon quotes a price of say $3,350 for a breast augmentation, which was the national average in 2011, that does not include associated fees for everything from anesthesia to operating room use. The only way to judge the real expense of any procedure is to get an estimate of "total" costs and then to start looking for ways to lower that price.
It's a little known fact that most cosmetic surgeons actually are willing to negotiate their fees. They are, after all, running a business. The surgeries they perform are largely elective. Any client can "elect" to go elsewhere. Getting clients and pleasing those clients is a huge part of the cosmetic surgery industry -- and never mistake the fact that it is an industry.
1. Think Time of Year
The vast majority of cosmetic surgery candidates look for times in their annual calendar when recovery is most convenient. Often this is during the school year when someone else is minding the children for most of the day and other resources can be called upon, like carpools and after-school play dates with helpful friends.
Conversely, the summer months are generally fairly slow for cosmetic surgeons and it's not unusual to be able to bargain for prices that are as much as 25 percent off the normal going rate. Many cosmetic surgery centers publish newsletters and will advertise discounts during slow periods. It's worth it to visit the doctor's website and sign up for these kind of alerts.
If you do opt for an "off season" procedure, it is important to remember, however, that very hot weather can both make your recovery uncomfortable and potential damage the work that has been done. If you do decide to have your surgery in the summer, you want to make sure you can recover in a cool, comfortable environment, generally with minimum exposure to the sun.
2. Combine Procedures
It is a common industry practice to give discounts of 5 percent per procedure added to the single surgical session. There are additional advantages in this approach for the patient in terms of coping with a single recovery physically and financially. You pay one time for all the associated costs. You take off work one time. And you only have to be in physical discomfort once. Do beware, however, that surgeons can flip this tactic and use it as a way to elevate their total fee. Never combine procedures unless you had the work in mind initially and you're doing the combination specifically to save money. Don't fall for hard sales tactics that suggest you won't look good if you have Procedure A, but not B.
3. Be Willing to Help the Surgeon Meet His Costs
Surgeons book their operating schedules in eight-hour blocks. They reserve space at the surgical facility and hire the services of an anesthesiologist and the necessary nursing staff. If a patient cancels, those people will still have to be paid, which represents a loss to the surgeon. Often discounts are available to patients who are willing to have their surgery on a stand-by basis. This may involve providing a number of dates when you could come in for the procedure, or a willingness to rearrange your schedule with just a week to 10 days notice.
4. Pay with Cash and Help the Surgeon Dodge Fees
Surgeons, like any other "merchants" pay credit card processing fees. If you can pay in cash, doctors are generally willing to respond in kind with a discount of as much as 5 percent. Also ask about "layaway" plans if you cannot afford a single cash payment. Over a period of time you make the payments you can afford until the full fee is met and the surgery can be scheduled. This means waiting, but it can also mean savings.
5. Don't Rule Out Insurance Benefits
Although health insurance policies do not, as a rule, cover cosmetic procedures, there are exceptions to that rule when the procedure can be linked to a medical necessity, which a doctor is willing to certify as valid. Some examples might be rhinoplasty or a "nose job" to improve breathing issues, a breast reduction to lessen back pain, or an eyelid lift to improve vision. There's more paperwork involved, but if you can collect the insurance benefit, your out-of-pocket costs can be lowered substantially.
Because cosmetic surgery is a largely elective choice on the part of the patient, you have the luxury of exploring your options well ahead of the surgery itself. With some careful research and smart negotiating, it is possible to get a surgeon to lower his rates and even to get your insurance policy to help with the cost of the procedure in some cases.