This is an interesting question. Many patients who come to see me at my London cosmetic surgery practice are surprised that I charge for consultations, and that my prices for surgery are high, compared to some of the larger cosmetic surgery chains.
Cosmetic surgery consultation fees
There are a few reasons why individual cosmetic surgeons like myself tend to charge more than the larger groups. Let’s start with consultations: if you have a consultation with one of the clinic chains, which is usually free of charge, it is likely to be with a salesperson, rather than a cosmetic surgeon.
When you have a consultation with a qualified cosmetic surgeon, they are charging you for their time and expertise. A surgeon like myself will perform a thorough medical examination before assessing your suitability for surgery and I charge a consultation fee on the basis that not all patients will go on to have the operation.
UK surgeons have to pay very high indemnity fees before they are allowed to perform cosmetic surgery – around £40,000 a year. This is in order to safeguard patients in the unlikely case of any complications arising following surgery.
Individual surgeons have to account for this when charging their surgical fees. Clinic chains, on the other hand, because they have a large number of surgeons on their books and a large number of patients walking through the doors are able to spread the costs more and so charge lower fees.
Other cosmetic surgery costs
When you have an operation, the surgeon’s time is not the only cost incurred – there’s the anaesthetist, who is there not just to ease your pain but also to monitor your wellbeing during the operation, and the theatre time, as well as any nursing staff.
Again, when you visit a large clinic chain, they tend to bulk book theatre space in advance at a lower cost, whereas individual surgeons will book the theatre space as and when they have a suitable patient.
Why pay more?
The key here is that when you use an individual cosmetic surgeon, your consultation is with that surgeon, so there is no pressure to go ahead and book the surgery as there would be with a salesperson. You also get to know your surgeon and can speak to him/her ahead of time about any concerns you may have.
With the larger cosmetic surgery chains you often don’t meet your surgeon until the day of the operation, which means you don’t know what his/her work looks like, and don’t have the same chance to form a rapport with him/her.