The cost of cosmetic surgery

Although cosmetic surgery has become more affordable over the years and is now perceived as a viable option for most people, it is still a heavy investment with most procedures costing thousands rather than hundreds of pounds.

Why do I get different quotes for the same cosmetic surgery procedure?

Sometimes patients attending my Leamington Spa cosmetic surgery clinic enquire why there is often a cost difference between Clinics and even between surgeons for the same procedure.

There are a number of reasons for this variation, many of which relate to the quality of care provided. The old adage that ‘you get what you pay for’ is relevant.

Naturally, different procedures cost more or less depending on their complexity, a facelift costing more than an upper eyelid reduction, for instance. However, even when it comes to considering a single procedure, there are a number of variables that come into play.

Some factors that can influence the cost of a cosmetic surgery procedure

The experience or reputation of the cosmetic surgeon – these can obviously count for a great deal and can justifiably attract something of a premium in terms of overall cost. Conversely, just because the cost of a procedure is set at a higher level does not necessarily mean that he or she is the ‘best’ surgeon for that particular procedure or best suited to you as an individual.

Determining exactly which procedure you require to fulfil your hopes and expectations may vary from surgeon to surgeon. Thus, ‘facelift’ and ‘tummy tuck’ are both catch-all terms, each of which actually includes a number of different techniques, the duration and complexity of which will affect the price.

  • Clinic/Practitioner location – London charges are typically higher than elsewhere in the UK, partly because costs (eg, of renting premises, etc) in the capital are higher anyway and partly because of the ‘Harley Street’ cachet. However, nowadays, just because surgeons are London-based does not mean they are the ‘best’ and there are manifold benefits to choosing a surgeon local to you, not least for ease of access for aftercare (see below)
  • Materials used – this obviously relates to implants and mainly pertains to the breast augmentation procedure. There are a number of leading breast implant manufacturers and many different types of implants, which may make a small difference to the overall cost.
  • Recovery and aftercare – this relates to how many days you may need to remain in hospital and what your aftercare package includes. It is essential to establish in your pre-operation consultations what aftercare you can expect from your Cosmetic Surgeon and Clinic. What will your personal surgeon’s availability be during the first 2 weeks (or even 24 hours) after surgery: will he or she be around or literally miles away in Europe, as is not uncommon for some of the large cosmetic group franchises? What happens if you have some sort of postoperative problem, especially if you have had surgery carried out geographically a long way away? Be very suspicious of a cheap package in this regard.

During consultations at my Warwickshire cosmetic surgery practice, I ensure that the patient is aware of the cost of any procedure (it often comes as a big surprise that the main component cost of any operation is that of the Hospital/Clinic and not the surgeon’s fee – a common misconception) and what that cost entails, before he or she makes the decision to go ahead with surgery. I believe very strongly that, although cost is an important factor in the decision, it should not be the overriding consideration.

Which is best for me: liposuction or a tummy tuck?

The appearance of the tummy or abdomen can be a great source of concern for many men and women. They may have lost a great deal of weight or seen a degree of skin laxity appear as they have got older, whilst women may have suffered the adverse effects of multiple pregnancies, with large babies or twins often to blame. Many patients visit my Leamington cosmetic surgery clinic enquiring whether they’d be best suited to a tummy tuck or to liposuction.

The difference between a tummy tuck and liposuction

Liposuction is aimed at removing excess areas of fat from the face and body, including the neck and chin, the tummy and flanks, and the arms, the hips and the thighs. Tiny incisions are made – usually in places where they will be well-hidden afterwards – and a cannula inserted that will gently suction out the fat cells. With liposuction, it is possible to achieve a degree of contouring.

A tummy tuck (known medically as an abdominoplasty) is a more or less extensive cosmetic surgical procedure that involves an incision of variable length across the abdomen, usually just above the pubic area. Through this access the abdominal wall muscles, often severely stretched by pregnancy, can be tightened up these if necessary. Loose skin is then removed to produce a more pleasing overall appearance.

The type of tummy tuck carried out varies according to each patient’s individual problem and needs. Mini-tummy tucks just tighten the lower tummy skin (ie below the belly button), possibly with some muscle tightening in that area. A simple abdominoplasty, using an incision extending across the lower tummy from one upper hip to the other, tightens the tissues all the way up to the rib cage and allows for full muscle tightening, whilst the incision can also be extended round onto the lower back if the looseness of the tissues requires that (extended abdominoplasty).

It is important to understand that, for the most part, the bewildering array of non-surgical, non-invasive or minimally invasive body contouring devices and interventions on the market only have a limited effect, often turning out to be very costly for little longer-term benefit, and anyone with this kind of problem is best advised to see a Consultant Plastic Surgeon for advice on the best and most appropriate treatment for their situation.

Are you best suited for a tummy tuck or liposuction?

Evaluating the physical state of the prospective patient is an essential part of any consultation at my Warwickshire cosmetic surgery clinic. Although liposuction is very effective at removing fat, it will not tighten significantly sagging skin, so, if you have more than very minimal skin laxity, it will not produce the results you desire. Similarly, liposuction will not have any impact on the underlying muscles so, again, a tummy tuck might be the preferred option if there is bulging or fullness because your abdominal muscles have weakened and separated.

Future plans are also discussed during a tummy tuck or liposuction consultation. Although a tummy tuck will not hinder a woman from becoming pregnant or undergoing childbirth, neither will it stop skin and muscles from becoming stretched; so women who have not yet had children should factor in the possibility of needing a repeat procedure in the future.

Often, though, it is not a case of either-or; liposuction and abdominoplasty can sometimes be combined safely in a single procedure and, skilfully done, this can be a very effective approach, producing gratifying results.