5 Tips for Saving on Cosmetic Surgery

Photo (cc) by madelineyoki

After a recession-induced reduction, plastic surgery may be on the rise again – MSN reports that the number of cosmetic surgeries went up by 5 percent last year. If you’re thinking of cosmetic surgery, consider this: Most elective surgeries aren’t covered by your health insurance. So you’ll be paying for that facelift out of pocket.

And cosmetic surgeries don’t come cheap. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons conducted a study on the average cost for plastic surgery in 2010. Check out the cost of some of the most popular procedures…

  • Breast augmentation: $3,351
  • Buttock lift: $4,379
  • Facelift: $6,231
  • Hair transplant: $4,676
  • Tummy tuck: $5,130

The good news: You can find discounts on cosmetic procedures if you’re willing to do your homework. Doctor’s offices and some third-party companies offer discounts or special offers for minor cosmetic surgeries. And considering the cost of some of those procedures, every little bit helps.

1. Shop around

The cost of cosmetic surgery varies by area and by surgeon. In an interview with Fox Business, Jane Cooper (president and CEO of the advocacy group Patient Care) said that medical costs vary as much as 300 percent between different doctors. With such a huge difference, it pays to comparison shop.

Sites like HealthCare Blue Book let you search for the prices of different cosmetic procedures. You can also check the websites of local doctor’s offices and hospitals in your area, since many list the cost of procedures online.

2. Look for online discounts

Daily deal and coupon sites don’t just cover restaurants and retail stores. Some of these sites have coupons for minor cosmetic procedures as well. Sites like Groupon have the occasional coupon for lip-enhancement augmentation or Lasik eye surgery.

Before you buy a coupon through a deal site, make sure you qualify for the surgery. A free consultation with a surgeon will tell you if you qualify, and double-checking before you buy may save you some money. Most deal sites don’t offer refunds, so you could be out that money if you buy now and find out you don’t qualify later.

3. Ask the surgeon for deals

Private health care clinics have some freedom in their pricing structure and may be able to offer you a discount. Some clinics run different specials throughout the year. For example, the clinic where I got my teeth-whitening done sends me discount offers three or four times a year. Other clinics may be willing to discount the price if you can pay more upfront.

Since many clinics offer payment plans, they often wait months or even years for full payment. If you’re able to pay upfront, the clinic might offer you a discount.

4. Consider a health care credit card

Health care credit cards are lines of credit specifically for medical treatments and procedures offered by third-party companies. You get approved for a credit line, the company pays for your medical procedure upfront, and you pay the cost off in monthly installments.

While it may not net you a discount on your cosmetic surgery, these cards do give you an easier way to pay for a cosmetic surgery. But make sure you understand the terms of the credit line completely before you sign. Health care credit cards can be costly if you don’t get them paid off in time. Read Health Care Credit Cards: A Healthy Choice? before you decide.

5. Leave the country

While it may seem unnerving to have surgery performed by a foreign doctor, medical tourism is a booming business. Surgeries in countries like Mexico, Costa Rica and Thailand can cost less than half the price of comprable U.S. surgeries, even after airfare. And many places offer packages that include a week’s stay in a luxury resort while you recover. You learn more by visiting the Medical Tourism Association’s website. Their president is interviewed by Bloomberg News in the video below.

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