Why is there so much variation in the cost of Liposuction for the same area of the body?


I'm 5'5" and 115 lbs, fairly thin but have a small belly pooch and love handles.  I'd like to get these done with SmartLipo or something similar that requires only local anesthesia.  I'm looking around for a surgeon - I see that some charge as low as $750 per area (of the body) and some start at $4,000 for the first area plus more for additional areas.  What's the catch with the cheaper ones?  I looked up the surgeon offering the $750 promotion and he is board certified since the 1980's so I don't know why there's such a huge difference in price.  Can someone please explain this to me?


The list of factors that influence price is almost too long to list, but we should start by defining what is involved in the procedure.  There is little evidence that the use of lasers as with Smart Lipo enables the procedure to be done under local anesthesia if it couldn't be done that way to begin with.  The efforts that go into marketing can cost a lot of money and therefore influence price, and the cost of the laser has to be factored in.  Experience matters but doesn't guarantee success and the ability to charge high fees.  Some markets are more competitive than others.  Often times if the procedure is going to be done under local, then regulations requiring surgery to be done in accredited facilities may be bypassed and that also affects the cost, but remember that liposuction is surgery regardless and it should always be done by a surgeon in a properly licensed facility.

Richard A. Baxter, M.D.
Mountlake Terrace, WA


I sense your frustration, and will try to provide a reasonable explanation.  

Surgery and facility fees vary widely depending upon precisely what is being done, who is doing it and where it is being done.  You need to compare "apples to apples."

Even if done under local, in a certified office or ambulatory surgery center, the cost will be higher than if done at a non-certified facility simply because the overhead for a certified facility is more in order to meet the necessary rigorous requirements.  

There are many things that can be done safely under local anesthesia in a non-certified procedure room.  This will depend upon precisely what procedure is being done.  Sometimes a patient may need IV sedation whereas another would not.  ASPS and ASAPS mandate that IV sedation and general anesthesia be performed in a certified office facility or other certified operating room setting.  If not, then your surgeon is probably not certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Then the procedure and the equipment will impact the cost, as well as the individual surgeon's fee which may vary according to their credentials, experience and reputation. 

Be sure to seek a consultation with a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Fredrick A. Valauri, M.D. F.A.C.S., FACS
New York, NY


There are several different aspects of this question. First is SmartLipo under local anesthesia. Any liposuction can be done under local anesthesia.  There is no real advantage to laser liposuction over traditional, in spite of the hype.  Second is the experience doing Liposuction of the person who does the Liposuction.  This can vary greatly, but is the one thing that determines how much risk you take when having the Liposuction.  An experienced surgeon generally assures a better outcome.  The last aspect is the question of Board Certification. You need to ask "Which Board?"  There are two traps for the unknowing.  First, any physician can do Liposuction within state laws.  This means that he/she does not have to be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery which does certify its members to be competent to do Liposuction. (It is overseen by the American Board of Medical Specialties to assure certified physicians meet high standards).  Therefore, the person doing the Liposuction may, in fact, be board certified in Family Practice or Emergency Medicine and not be a surgeon at all.  In many states, physicians are not restricted to what "board" they can advertise.  To set up a "Board," all it takes is $5 to buy a license from the Attorney General's office.  There are many of these "Boards" out there with NO oversight of training to assure competence of the person certified.


Generally, the pricing of liposuction, or any other plastic surgery procedure is based on a plastic surgeons experience, expertise and ultimately results.  Having said that, the highest priced physician is no guarantee that you will get the best result. But, almost certainly the lowest price will not be the best result.


Liposuction is the most commonly performed surgical procedure each year in the United States. Here's a statistic that you may not have heard: the majority of physicians performing liposuction in the United States are not plastic surgeons; in fact, many do not have any formal surgical training whatsoever. It seems hard to believe, but many physicians performing liposuction have had no more training in liposuction than a 'weekend course'. One way to determine whether or not a physician has had appropriate training in a particular surgery is to confirm that they have hospital privileges for that procedure.

I fear that some practitioners view liposuction as a 'simple' surgery, since it does not involve making large incisions, and it requires little, if any, suturing. Nothing could be further from the truth. Liposuction, in my mind, is a very challenging operation that requires careful planning and preparation, and a great deal of care and finesse when it is actually performed. It requires a three-dimensional understanding of the layers of human anatomy, an understanding that is second nature to a surgeon alone. I think that it is often an inadequate understanding of anatomy (and, perhaps, of the body's response to surgery) which leads to the poor results in liposuction and body contouring that unfortunately are so often seen.

When selecting a surgeon, look at their education, experience and lots and lots of before and after photos. Once you feel comfortable with a few plastic surgeons schedule consultations with a few ASAPS members.


When other providers or entities enter the market place they can be disruptive by having an incredibly low price point. Liposuction is not a simple procedure. It takes planning, execution in the operating room and adherence to the use of compression garments by the patient after the surgery has been completed. Although there are a number of methods used you should find a Board Certifed Pladtic Surgeon for a consult and appropriate pricing. This price should include 3 costs. Board Certifed plastic Surgeons as part of their commitment to patient safety only operate in in accredited facilities such as Quad A, CMS or Medicare Certified, or Jaco Certified.

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