The consultation is a vital first step in any plastic surgery journey – perhaps the most vital. The Internet has helped in incredible ways to provide a wealth of procedure information to would-be patients, as well as endless patient stories. Even armed with this knowledge, patients will ultimately decide on the right procedure after a consultation.
The consultation is where patient knowledge and ideas for procedures meets the experience of board certified surgeons. Everyone has their own unique anatomy; what procedure works for one may not work so well for another, even if the goals are the same. To decide which procedures will be right for a patient’s unique situation, a physical examination and conversations is required via a consultation.
And while some surgeons don’t charge for this service, Dr. Brian Brzowski of Utah makes the case for why consultation fees are necessary and what it is, exactly, patients receive from the investment.
Why Consultation Fees are Necessary
A point of contention among some patients and even other plastic surgeons is the consultation fee. Why do some surgeons charge for a consultation and some do not? “Honestly, I do not understand the surgeons who don’t,” says Dr. Brzowski.
Anytime that you get something, whether it is a product or a service, there is a charge. This is what makes the world turn. It is economically impractical for any company or individual to provide something of significant value for free.
This is as true of your local ice cream vendor as it is for your plastic surgeon. “In order to provide a quality service for patients when they come in to be seen and devote a reasonable amount of time for them to spend with the surgeon and the staff, it really demands a fee,” shares Brzowski.
What Are You Getting for Your Money?
As with any other doctor’s visit, your plastic surgery consultation is a chance for you to express your wishes, desires and concerns. It is an opportunity for you to “interview” the surgeon and vice versa. During the consultation, a plastic surgeon will:
- perform a physical exam or assessment of your anatomy
- take a full medical history
- discuss your goals/wants/desires
- devise the appropriate treatment plan to achieve your goal
- answer any questions and/or concerns
Some patients don’t understand why they should pay for a consultation if they aren’t certain that they are going to have the procedure and/or use that surgeon. In another light, it’s the same as with your internist, pediatrician or gynecologist: there is a cost for their expertise. Your doctor may tell you to do X, Y or Z to improve a health condition, but that doesn’t mean that you are going to follow his or her advice.
In a consultation, the plastic surgeon shares his or her thoughts as to the best treatment plan to improve your individual issue. While you may or may not decide to move forward with the procedure, you have still received a plan and received advice from an expert with decades of experience.
Bottom line, a plastic surgeon is no different than any other physician. You are paying for his or her professional opinion and advice. It is then up to you whether you decide to follow said advice.
All Professionals Charge a Fee for Service
It isn’t only physicians who charge a fee for service. Nearly any professional service, such as an attorney or accountant, have some feed involved. Time and expertise is valuable! Surgeons, especially plastic surgeons, “have exceeded those individuals professional training, so I think it’s just a very natural expectation for that valuable service to have a cost attached,” explains Brzowski.
Plastic surgeons go through a tremendous amount of training; Dr. Brzowski himself has been in practice for almost 20 years, following service in the Air Force as a surgeon. As he explains, “that collective knowledge and experience doesn’t come easy.” This makes it of extreme value to the patient. In his opinion, it’s hard to put a price tag on that expertise, but there must be some sort of monetary exchange.
What Does the Fee Say About the Surgeon?
In general, most of the plastic surgeons who don’t charge a consultation fee do so because they are afraid of losing business. Sometimes it may be an indication that they are looking for new patients. Perhaps they are just starting out and need to grow their practice in any way possible.
Plastic surgeons who do charge a consultation fee, on the other hand, typically already have a very busy practice. In this regard, the fee can actually be an indication that this plastic surgeon is established. He or she is experienced and already runs a thriving practice.
Consultation fees are going to vary from surgeon to surgeon and region to region. Some are quite modest, around $50, while others charge a much higher fee. However, most of the plastic surgeons who charge a fee will apply this fee towards the cost of your surgery or procedure if you decide to move forward. So, in the end, the fee doesn’t wind up costing you anything extra! It only guarantees time spent with a true expert who wants to help you achieve your goals.