Friday, June 14, 2024

What’s Behind the Rising Cost of Plastic Surgery?

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Two years into an unusually high rate of inflation for the United Sates, the cost of aesthetic treatments and procedures is starting to change. Surprisingly, though while the cost of surgery is up, noninvasive treatments are falling in price. What could be behind the shifting of prices?

First let’s start with the basics. What’s actually causing this level of inflation?

“Energy price inflation has been the key driver of the post-pandemic inflation flareup, spilling over into transportation and commodities most directly, and pulling everything else up with it,” chief economist at ZipRecruiter, Julia Pollak says in a post on X (formerly Twitter). 

When it costs more to move things, everything from equipment to personnel can become more expensive.

Economic Pressure Vs. High Competition

So why is the cost of some parts of aesthetic treatment falling and others rising?

Campbell, CA plastic surgeon R. Laurence Berkowitz, MD explains that the actual surgeon fee itself hasn’t really changed. It’s everything else. “Let me tell you, patients are shocked when they see the price of our surgery has not gone up,” Dr. Berkowitz says. “It was the cost of the operating room, anesthesia and all the supplies that have gone up. Nurses and anesthesiologists are very, very expensive now.”

On the other hand, many aspects of noninvasive treatments have only become more ubiquitous and easier to obtain, despite economic concerns. Plus, according to The Aesthetic Society, the trend of falling prices for many of these treatments, including Botox Cosmetic and laser hair removal, has been consistent since 2008.

Fresno, CA dermatologist Kathleen Behr, MD notes that a surge in skin treatments has seen patients shift towards cheaper treatments. “A lot of these procedures are a little bit less expensive than body contouring, like CoolSculpting or Emsculpt,” Dr. Behr explains. “Those are a little bit more expensive.”

According to Hutton Klein Dermatology, falling cost may also be a results of high competition, as so many more professionals can offer noninvasive treatments. “[Falling prices] also illustrates what could be considered a troubling trend in the cosmetic procedure and surgery industry—not that procedures are becoming more affordable, but that competition is heating up in the form of spas and other professionals who are trying to get into the cosmetic dermatology game.”

Dealing With the Rising Cost of Surgery

When it comes to the rise in surgical cost, it’s important to bear in mind exactly how much an invasive procedure really entails.

Prioritizing your safety means that more than one professional needs to be in the room, nurses need to monitor you while your surgeon works and there need to be contingencies in place in case things go wrong. If that all sounds expensive to maintain, it’s because it is.

“I explain to patients that our nurses are the best in the world,” Dr. Berkowitz explains. “And we do pay them well. And if they ask why they need to be there or why they need an anesthesiologist, I explain to them that we cannot cut corners.”

While the chances are slim, surgery can go wrong. And if it does, you want as many hands on deck as you can get, no matter the cost.

“I like the idea of two physicians in the room when you’re operating,” Dr. Berkowitz says. “The anesthesiologist is your lifeguard, right? I think that is cheap insurance to make sure that you are going to come out of that operating room as healthy as you went in. When I explain it like that, they go ‘Yeah, that makes sense!’”

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