The financial environment of aesthetic surgery: results of a survey of plastic surgeons

L M Krieger, W W Shaw
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 1999, 104 (7): 2305-11
To gather information about aesthetic surgery's current practice structures, competitive environment, patient price sensitivity, and marketing and practice development requirements, a two-page survey was developed and mailed to all 1180 members of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. A total of 632 surveys were returned (response rate of 54.5 percent). Most aesthetic plastic surgeons said they were in solo practice (63.3 percent). More than two-thirds described the marketplace as "very competitive," with 59 percent reporting 25 or more surgeons offering aesthetic surgery in their area. They estimated their patients' average income at $62,800. Nearly all plastic surgeons labeled their patients as "moderately price sensitive" (62.3 percent) or "very price sensitive" (30.6 percent). Similarly, 23.2 percent estimated that they had lost 20 or more patients within the last year for reasons of price. Practice development and marketing efforts represented an average of 7.3 percent of plastic surgeons' working time. Parameters associated with a high percentage of time devoted to these activities were solo practice, percentage of revenue from aesthetic surgery greater than 50 percent, a practice environment designation of moderately or very competitive, and ten or more area surgeons offering aesthetic surgery (p < 0.05). High patient income led to only slight decreases in price sensitivity and did not significantly reduce the amount of time spent on marketing and practice development. Although the rest of the healthcare industry has undergone a period of consolidation, aesthetic surgeons have been able to resist these changes. The results of this survey suggest that the fragmented nature of the aesthetic surgery industry is associated with additional burdens on plastic surgeons. As the aesthetic surgery market becomes more competitive, plastic surgeons may benefit from consolidation to reduce costs and maximize efficiency.

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