Allen 1 Why is plastic surgery so expensive Last year plastic .pdf by lovemacromastia


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       Why is plastic surgery so expensive? Last year plastic surgeons performed

2,119,984 surgical cosmetic procedures with American consumers spending around

$9.4million for these procedures. The number of surgical procedures has increased 118%

since 1997. With such a large market in cosmetic surgery, there are profits to be made.

Every year, large numbers of surgeons enter the plastic surgery field looking to capitalize

on the profits. There are dozens of listings in the Fort Worth area phone book alone. A

simple internet search for plastic surgeons listed even more area surgeons. With this

overwhelming number of surgeons to choose from, one would expect surgery to be much

cheaper. Even with the available choices, some surgeons still charge an arm and a leg for

cosmetic surgery. Is this because consumers are suckers? Or do consumers believe that

the results surgeons provide are worth the expense?

       The most important assumption of consumers should be that not all surgeons are

equal in skill and experience. Any Medical Surgeon who has been certified by the

American Board of Plastic Surgery, A.B.P.S., can legally be called a plastic surgeon and

can perform cosmetic surgery. This allows doctors who normally perform surgery in non-

cosmetic procedures to also perform elective plastic surgery. Many Ear, Nose, and Throat

Surgeons, or Otolaryngologists, have extended their practice to include cosmetic surgery.

These surgeons, usually identified by the letters F.A.C.S., are initially certified by the

American College of Surgeons to perform surgical procedures on patients for conditions

involving the ear, nose, or throat. Using this knowledge of surgery on the facial area,

these surgeons obtain certification from the A.B.P.S to perform cosmetic plastic surgery.

The alternative type of surgeon is a doctor who has trained specifically for cosmetic

surgery. These surgeons, also certified by the A.B.P.S., have trained specifically for the
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field of cosmetic surgery. Qualified surgeons from this field, who only specialize in

plastic surgery of the face and body, are invited into the American Society of Aesthetic

Plastic Surgery. The members of the A.S.A.P. must meet requirements based on

experience, education, and professional reputation and are considered to be high quality


       I would like to compare these two types of surgeons to determine what is more

important to consumers: Price or Quality. I believe consumers are highly selective when

choosing a plastic surgeon because plastic surgery is a very serious procedure and the

results can be permanent or even life threatening. If this is true, then surgeons with the

higher credentials should be able to charge higher fees for performing a cosmetic

procedure than surgeons with lesser credentials. This is assuming consumers value results

and safety more than price. Alternately, if consumers believe that price is more important

than quality, then surgeons with higher credentials will charge prices equal to those with

lower credentials.

       To test this hypothesis, I first gathered a list of surgeons that practice in Dallas.

Next, I researched each surgeon’s background from their individual websites. I then

divided the surgeons into two groups based on their credentials. Surgeons with A.S.A.P.

membership are Group 1 and surgeons with F.A.C.S. credentials are Group 2. I chose

Group 1 to represent surgeons with higher credentials and Group 2 to represent surgeons

with lesser credentials. Finally, I called each surgeon’s office to find the exact fee that

the surgeon charges for a lower facelift. The reason I chose this type of procedure is

because it is commonly performed by surgeons in both groups. Also, each surgeon

usually charge all patients the same fee for this procedure due to the similarity of the
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technique used in each procedure. The data collected are shown in Chart 1. The

individual doctor fees are listed anonymously in the charts.

        Chart 1.

                 Group 1                       Group 2
Certifications   ABPS, ASPS, ASAPS             ABPS, FACS
                 1          $7,200.00          1                $7,000.00
Fees             2          $8,500.00          2                $6,000.00
                 3          $9,000.00          3                $6,500.00
                 4          $8,000.00          4                $6,000.00
                 5          $8,500.00          5                $6,500.00
                 6          $8,650.00          6                $4,300.00
                 7          $7,500.00          7                $5,000.00
                 8          $6,000.00          8                $6,850.00
                 Average $7,918.75             Average         $6,018.75

        The average fee charged by surgeons in Group 1 is higher than the average fee

charged by Group 2. The surgeons in Group 1 are able to charge higher fees because

consumers are willing to pay the higher fees. Therefore, some consumers place more

value on the quality of the surgeons than the price of the surgery. Those consumers who

choose from Group2 are probably willing to chance quality for a lower price. Consumers

choose surgeons based on their preference for either price or quality. Graph 1 illustrates

this using hypothetical indifference curves. Consumers with Curve1 will choose a doctor

from Group 1. Consumers with Curve2 will choose a doctor from Group 2.
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       Graph 1



                        Group 1

                                    Group 2


Curve1 is flatter because consumers a with this indifference curve are willing to pay

higher prices to get more quality. Consumers with the indifference curve Curve2 expect

quality to increase before paying higher prices. Chart1 shows that some consumers are

willing to pay higher fees for surgeons with certain credentials because they believe the

results will be better than with surgeons without these credentials. Chart1 also shows that

other consumers are willing to spend less for surgeons without certain credentials because

they believe the results will be the same.

       The purpose of this project was to compare how consumers respond to surgeons

that have extended their practice to include plastic surgery and those who have practiced

solely in cosmetic surgery. And because cosmetic surgery results are so subjective, I tried

to use credential a guage of quality. I do not mean to insinuate that Otolaryngologists are

poor plastic surgeons. After all, maybe consumers do not chose plastic surgeons based

solely on either price or quality. Cosmetic surgery varies by procedure and whether the
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results are good or bad is highly subjective to the patient. Some patients may be

extremely critical and condemn a surgeon while others give praise. During my research, I

came across several chat rooms that are set up for previous patients to give advice to

those considering cosmetic surgery. These chat rooms had ratings of doctors based on

previous experiences. I decided not to use this information because it was based on

individual opinions by patients and not by objective reviews from the doctors peers. The

A.B.P.S., A.C.S., A.S.A.P.S., and A.S.P.S. are all credible organizations who only allow

qualified surgeons to be members.

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