Allen 1 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 Allen 2 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 surgeons. 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 Allen 3 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. Allen 4 Graph 1 Quality Curve1 Curve2 Group 1 Group 2 Price 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 Allen 5 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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