Real Housewife Teresa Giudice went broke for her breast implants, but that doesn’t mean you have to!
Of course, we don’t actually think Teresa’s decision to have breast augmentation surgery was the only reason she had to file for bankruptcy, but there’s always something to be said for making smart purchases. If Teresa had been a better money manager, she may have been able to avoid selling her gorgeous 10,000 sq ft mansion that she just finished building!
Everyone knows that cosmetic surgery can be expensive, and while it’s not like building a mansion, you still have to plan for the cost. Keep reading to check out the “Do’s and Don’ts” of planning for breast augmentation, and find out how to get the most bang for your buck!
DO Visit with several plastic surgeons.
Choosing a surgeon is a lot like buying a car. You would never decide to buy a new Mercedes without shopping around a little, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do the same with your plastic surgeons. Surgeon fees are different in different areas of the country, and between individual surgeons in the same area. For example, if you live in St. Louis, you’ll likely pay about $6500 for your breast implants, but if you fly to NYC, you could expect to pay twice that amount. Will you get better results if you pay more for the surgery? It depends on who you are paying. Plastic surgeons have different areas of expertise, and unfortunately they are not all created equal. Plastic surgeons can subspecialize in things like hand surgery, burn surgery, and craniofacial surgery, and while these surgeons may be very accomplished in these subspecialties, that doesn’t mean that they are the best choice to give you breast implants. Before you rush off to find the most “experienced” surgeon, make sure that the experience is actually relevant to the procedure you’re asking for. Look for someone who specializes in “Aesthetic Plastic Surgery” and breast augmentation, and avoid the trap of paying too much for experience that doesn’t apply to the surgery you’re having.
DO Consider a “younger” surgeon.
Just because a plastic surgeon hasn’t been practicing for 30 years, doesn’t mean that he or she is “inexperienced”. Most fellowship-trained plastic surgeons have gone through 6-8 years of surgical training, and are all very skilled. The question to ask a younger surgeon is not “How experienced are you?”, but rather “What’s your specialty?” A younger surgeon who specializes in breast implants or aesthetic plastic surgery will often be more qualified to perform your surgery than a surgeon who has 30 years of experience in another subspecialty. Look for clues on the resumes of younger surgeons that suggest that they have special training in cosmetic operations; a fellowship in “Aesthetic Surgery” is a good one. Surgeons who have been in practice for less time tend to offer cheaper prices, so don’t count them out!
DO Choose a qualified plastic surgeon.
Figuring out who is “qualified” nowadays is a tough thing to do, so let us sum it up for you. Here’s what you need to look for if you are having cosmetic surgery:
- A “Real” Plastic Surgeon. I bet you didn’t know that a “cosmetic surgeon” is not necessarily a “plastic surgeon”? Well, it’s true. A “cosmetic surgeon” can be anyone! A family practice doctor can legally call themselves a cosmetic surgeon if they want to, and believe it or not, so can you! A real plastic surgeon must graduate from an accredited medical school, and complete a residency or fellowship in “plastic surgery” from a reputable institution. Residencies in “general surgery”, “dermatology”, and “obstetrics” are not the same thing, even if these doctors call themselves “cosmetic surgeons”. Take a look at your surgeon’s bio online. If you don’t see “plastic surgery” anywhere in their training, chances are that you aren’t dealing with a real plastic surgeon.
- An “Aesthetic” Plastic Surgeon: This is one way you can decide whether or not paying more for your surgery is worth it. An aesthetic plastic surgeon has additional training in all areas of cosmetic surgery above and beyond what the normal plastic surgeon has. Look for a fellowship in “Aesthetic Plastic Surgery” on your surgeon’s resume.
DO Know the total cost of the surgery.
There are usually 5 fees that make up the total cost of getting breast implants:
- Surgeon’s Fee: This is the fee for your surgeon’s time and skill, and can vary tremendously from surgeon to surgeon. The mistake that most breast implant shoppers make is thinking that this is the total cost of the operation… it’s not. Plan for a minimum of $3000, which is the national average. Be suspicious of surgeon’s fees that are much lower than this because it may be a sign that your surgeon isn’t a “real” plastic surgeon.
- Implant Fee: No matter how good your surgeon is, he can’t do the operation without the implants. Your surgeon’s office will order them for you, but you will be paying for them. This cost doesn’t vary much because the price is set by the implant manufacturers like Natrelle. Plan for $1000-$1400 for saline implants, and $2000-2500 for silicone.
- Anesthesia Fee: Although some surgeons offer “awake” surgery without real anesthesia, it’s not the best idea. Your anesthesiologist does more than put you to sleep. He makes sure you don’t feel any pain, monitors you during the procedure, and is trained to take care of you if something unexpected happens. Anesthesiologists have just as much “skill” as your surgeon does, and it’s always worth paying for. Lots of women try to save money by choosing a surgeon who does awake surgery, but they are often sorry they did. Check out this article written by one of our readers after her awake surgery experience. Plan for $1500-2000.
- Facility Fee: This is the cost of using the operating room and the equipment necessary to perform the procedure. This fee doesn’t vary much, but you should know that it exists. Plan for $1000-$1500.
- “Other” Fee: Some surgeons will want you to purchase special bras and garments after surgery, and may want you to use special bandages or medications to care for your incisions. Plan on spending $200-$400 on this “other” stuff, and make sure to ask your surgeon about it.
DON’T Sign up with the first surgeon you see.
Shop around a little and look for the best price without compromising the quality of your surgeon and the likelihood of a great result. Don’t pay higher fees just because the surgeon says he’s got the most experience. Find out whether or not that experience is relevant to breast augmentation surgery first, and then decide if his fees are worth it. Likewise, don’t look for the cheapest price on the market. Remember the old saying “you get what you pay for”? It’s usually true, so don’t bargain shop. Weeding out the qualified surgeons who are charging too much is a better strategy than searching for the lowest price.
DON’T Buy now, and figure out how to pay later.
Even if you’ve been dreaming about your new D cups for years, don’t rush into the deal. Think about Teresa :) She and her husband rushed into all kinds of crazy expenses without planning for them, and look where they are now! Figure out exactly how much it’s going to cost you, and make sure you know how you are going to pay for it. If you’re only answer is “I’ll just put it on my credit card”, you’re probably not ready to have surgery.
DON’T Ignore the chance of complications.
If you choose a plastic surgeon, you’re chance of having a complication is very low. However, bad things can happen to anyone, and sometimes they do. Because breast augmentation is considered an “elective” operation, some of the treatments you may need if you do have a complication may not be covered under your insurance plan. Make sure you discuss all possible complications with your surgeon, and make sure that the additional expense won’t put you out on the street if it becomes necessary. Plan for the possibility of having to spend $1500-2500.
DON’T Have the procedure if you can’t afford it.
This seems like it should be common knowledge, but every day there is another story in the newspaper about someone who traveled to Mexico to have cheap surgery. Sometimes it works out fine, but most of the time it doesn’t. In the cases where it doesn’t, hospital bills can be the least of your worries. Open wounds, awful infections, and even death, are very real possibilities when you try to “get something for nothing”. If you can’t afford it, don’t do it!
Saving money on cosmetic surgery isn’t about finding the cheapest price. It’s about finding a surgeon that offers the best compromise between what he charges and what he’s offering. A surgeon who charges next to nothing, but has next to nothing on his resume, is not necessarily the best value. Be smart, be safe, and we guarantee that you’ll be happy!
Nicholas Vendemia, M.D. Plastic Surgeon, New York City MAS / Manhattan Aesthetic Surgery www.ManhattanAestheticSurgery.com
Photo Credit: UsWeekly
NOTICE: None of the celebrities or individuals discussed here have ever received treatment, surgery, medical advice, or evaluations from any author, physician, surgeon, or representative of this blog. All images and photos in this article represent models only. No actual patients or clients are shown.