What about the cost?
What about the cost?
Cosmetic surgery in South Africa is considerably cheaper than in the U.K. or U.S.A. This is, in part, due to the extremely weak local currency. South African doctors enjoy a very good reputation in most parts of the world, and plastic surgeons are no exception. An entire industry of “cosmetic surgery tourism” came about due to this fact, where companies offer “package deals” to tourists involving cosmetic surgery combined with a holiday.
Aside from the details of the procedures, most patients want to know what the various operations cost. Some will “shop around” for the best or lowest total cost for any given procedure. It is important, however, to establish certain details from the prospective surgeon, as no doubt, he / she will need to establish certain details about you, the patient.
A WORD OR 2 ON MEDICAL AID & MEDICAL INSURANCE
Medical aids do not cover any aspect of (purely) cosmetic plastic surgery. There are, however, some reconstructive procedures that may be covered by medical aids to varying extents. Examples include:
1. Some rhinoplasty procedures (functional surgery, sino-septal surgery, reconstructive, cleft)
2. Some breast reduction procedures (Discovery Health never covers these at all)
3. Prosthetic breast reconstruction for breast cancer, including contralateral breast surgery
In these situations, and where reasonable grounds exist for some medical aid cover, a motivation letter, usually accompanied by pictures will be emailed to your medical aid by my office, on your behalf, to try to obtain authorization to proceed with the surgery.
It is, however, very important that you note the following:
- Medical aid is your insurance, rather than mine. My contract is with you, the patient, and you, in turn, have a contract with your medical aid.
- I do not operate at “medical aid rates” / NRPL rates.
- My charges are in line with other local members of ISAPS, and will be higher than most medical aids will contribute. In other words, a co-payment is always required.
- My fee, and that of any assistant, is payable in full prior to any surgery.
- A full statement / receipt will then be issued to you, allowing you to claim whatever portion of the fee your medical aid will reimburse you.
- Even if a procedure is alleged to have 100% cover by your medical aid, this will only refer to the hospital costs, not my fee, nor that of my assistant, if used, nor my anaesthetist.
PATIENT DETAILS NEEDED
A very important concept to grasp is that most cosmetic procedures are tailored to the problem, and that most operations vary somewhat from person to person in both complexity and extent. For this reason, it is vitally important to see the patient (via emailed pictures) to establish whether or not they are a suitable candidate for the surgery, and what the extent of the surgery is likely to be.
An example may be tummy tuck surgery, which may vary from liposuction alone, to a mini-tuck to a full tummy tuck. These procedures have very different indications, vary in extent and complexity, and as a result, the costs vary significantly. Liposuction is another example – this may vary from a half hour procedure, to a 3 hour procedure – longer surgery, more cost involved. Hence the need for some basic information about the patient, as well as some pictures which can be emailed.
WHAT TO ASK THE SURGEON
Many variables affect the total cost of any given procedure. These include whether or not an anaesthetist is used, the type of anaesthesia (whether local or general), the type of facility (day clinic vs. major hospital), the need for overnight stay etc.
1. Type Of Anaesthetic
Most surgeries in my practice are done under deep intravenous sedation combined with local anaesthesia. The exceptions to this are nose jobs and big breast reductions. This is somewhat cheaper than a general anaesthetic, but the major advantage is that patients feel much better after the surgery (less nausea etc) and tend to recover faster. Most facilities charge per minute of time in the operating room, so the longer the surgery, the more you pay!
2. Board Certified Anaesthetist
For all but the most minor surgeries, I use a board certified anaesthetist. Naturally, this carries costs, but in my opinion, is money well spent. You are carefully monitored throughout the surgery to ensure your safety, comfort and rapid recovery. Many colleagues do their own sedation, and therefore can offer more competitive overall rates. When getting a quote, establish if the surgeon does his / her own sedation.
3. Surgeon Qualifications
Make sure the surgeon is a board certified plastic surgeon, and is registered as such with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) as well as being a member of the Association of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeons of South Africa – APRSSA, and ISAPS (International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery).
I am based at a newly built, modern, state-of-the-art, private hospital in the centre of Cape Town – the Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital on the Foreshore. We moved from the “old” buidling in December 2016. I do my reconstructive work at this hospital, including cleft lip & palate surgery, and breast reconstruction surgery. I also do the vast majority of my cosmetic surgery at the hospital, but the minor, local anaesthetic cases are operated within my new office procedure room – these include upper eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty), otoplasty (ear pinning) labiaplasty and minor liposuctions and fat grafting
COSTS FOR 2020
I have been in private practice since 1999 and believe that I offer good value, given my experience and the quality of the service that I provide. My fees are generally in line with those of other local members of ISAPS -The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. No doubt some procedures will be cheaper “elsewhere”, and perhaps others more expensive, and whilst cost is undoubtedly a factor in deciding whether or not to proceed with any given operation, it is vastly less important than having faith in the surgeon who is ultimately going to do the surgery! Since I only make use of a fully licensed facility, the total fee charged is dependent on the rate offered by the facility, and hence when the rate is increased , the total cost of any given procedure will increase accordingly. The same is true for implant manufacturer’s costs, anaesthetists’ costs etc.
To obtain a list of ballpark, total costs, and other generic cost information for the various procedures offered, please click here to send me an email.