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Why is Breast Augmentation so expensive in the United States?

Q:

I know of so many women traveling abroad to have plastic surgery because it is too expensive in the United States.  These women are very happy with their results.  I'm definitely considering breast augmentation and wondering if I should go abroad to have it done.

A:

In a word---Safety!

The implants cost about 3 times as much partly because of FDA regulations and restrictions. It was not that long ago when we had the PIP implant crisis overseas where implants were taken out of the patients because of safety, and these implants were not FDA approved. They were not shown to be safe for the public here in the USA, so they were not used here.

We also have regulations and restrictions on the operating rooms that we have here that make it much more costly. Things like having a defibrillator in the Operating Room we take for granted here in our country, but you can save costs by not having them where there are no restrictions. There are at least 100 things that we simply have to have that are not so everywhere.

These things can even cloud judgment of the surgeon. Most plastic surgeons in this country put the implants under the muscle, where as many times outside the country they are put in under the breast tissue, even though we know that putting them on top of the muscle has a significantly higher risk of capsular contractures (a complication of breast augmentation surgery), and it may make it harder for a mammogram to find a breast cancer as well as giving the patient not as good aesthetic results generally.

Lastly, when you have a complication in another country, it is hard to find a plastic surgeon that wants to take on the problems of another surgeon because the result is always suboptimal. So frequently you have to travel back to the initial surgeon for a revision.

It just costs more here in this country because of regulations and laws that are put in place to protect the public. I would advise you to go see an ASAPS member for a consult, that way you know that you are getting a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who does a lot of aesthetic surgery.

Good luck on your search, and I hope even though this answer just scratched the surface, it gave you something to think about. Cost should not be the only consideration when you are dealing with your health and life. Do you really want to take the lowest bid when you are talking about your safety?

Dan C. Mills, II, MD

A:

There is one basic difference in the costs between having a breast augmentation by a plastic Surgeon here and someone cheap overseas, and that is SAFETY. That, however, also goes for having breast implants in this country. Plastic Surgeons here have to work in certified facilities that take every precaution to make sure your surgery is done as safely as possible. We also use nothing but the safest implants. Many non-plastic surgeons here do surgery in non-certified facilities, putting your life at risk, and use non-approved implants imported illegally because they are cheaper. A few years ago there was a huge problem with implants overseas and some here that had been imported. Many women had great expenses correcting the problem, and some never got a reasonable result. Good and safe plastic surgery overseas is about the same price as here plus the travel. The old adage is true, you get what you pay for. Do you really want to take a chance with your life?

R.T. Buchanan, MD

A:

Brenda,

Thank you for your question. In my experience I hear many more heartaches than happy results from patients who have surgery overseas.

Costs are greater here as others have described. Safety is the most important factor. You should have surgery near your home so you can access your surgeon if you have a problem. Medical and surgical standards are just not the same in many foreign countries. Shopping price is not a good idea when it comes to your health.

 

 

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