5 of the Most Expensive Plastic Surgeries

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Woman preparing for face lift

Plastic surgery remains popular for many reasons. Though more expensive and complex than some minimally invasive cosmetic procedures like Botox®, plastic surgery is a way to change your appearance in a more permanent way. In some cases, a life change, such as dramatic weight loss, prompts a decision to transform your body.

Americans spend billions of dollars on cosmetic procedures every year. And the volume of cosmetic surgery continues to go up every year. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), there was a 3% increase from 2016 to 2017. And there has been an increase of 41% since 2000. The most common plastic surgery—breast augmentation or enhancement—increased 3% over 2016. Plastic surgeons performed over 300,000 of these procedures in 2017.

Here is a look at the five of the most expensive plastic surgeries in 2017. The cost information is based on average doctor fees in a 2017 ASPS report. Keep in mind the total cost of cosmetic and plastic surgery varies across the country. Fees consist of hospital and laboratory charges, anesthesia, medication, and extra costs for body garments. Where you live can influence these fees. Surgeons, hospitals and laboratories can charge more or less based on number of factors, including geographic location. It might be a long-term investment, but many people achieve results they feel are worth it.

1. Lower Body Lift

The most expensive plastic surgery of 2019 was a lower body lift, or simply a body lift. It removes excess fat and sagging skin, minimizing cellulite. Doctors may recommend this procedure when liposuction isn’t enough. Liposuction removes excess, weight-loss-resistant fat from underneath the skin. It works well when skin has the elasticity to conform to a new shape. However, skin often loses elasticity due to sun damage, weight changes, or pregnancy. This is when a lower body lift can help.

Lower body lift surgery involves making several incisions to remove excess skin and fat. The goal is to reposition and tighten the stomach, waist, groin, thighs and buttocks tissues in one procedure. A common technique is to use a bikini-shaped pattern around the abdomen and hips. The average surgeon’s fee was $8,073 in 2019.

2. Facelift

More than 123,000 Americans had a facelift in 2019. This number is up by 2% over 2018. But it remains one of the more expensive cosmetic options. The average surgeon’s fee for a facelift was $7,467 in 2017.

A facelift can reduce sagging skin, deep creases, jowls, and a double chin. A plastic surgeon makes an incision by the hairline around the ear, repositions the skin, and removes excess skin. Sometimes people also choose to have another procedure in conjunction with a facelift, such as a brow lift or eyelid surgery. This can often produce a better overall effect.

3. Tummy Tuck 

If pregnancy or weight variations have left you unhappy with your midsection, abdominoplasty—commonly known as a tummy tuck—might be for you. During a tummy tuck, the surgeon lifts the skin to repair the abdominal muscles underneath it. Then, the surgeon can trim and remove excess skin. Sometimes, the surgeon will need to create a new opening for the bellybutton. The average surgeon’s fee for a tummy tuck was $6,092 in 2019.

If you are planning to lose weight, experts recommend waiting to have a tummy tuck. Significant weight changes can drastically affect the surgery results. The same is true for women who are not done having children. If a pregnancy could be in your future, put off a tummy tuck until afterwards. 

4. Breast Reduction 

Very large breasts can cause long-term health problems. Back, neck and shoulder pain are common complaints, as are skin rashes and irritation beneath the breasts. Sometimes heavy breasts keep women from participating in vigorous exercise, and others are self-conscious about their size. All of this can affect a woman’s quality of life. For these women, a breast reduction may be the answer. During breast reduction, the surgeon removes excess fat, tissue and skin to create a breast size that’s more proportional to your overall body size and shape.

The average surgeon’s fee for cosmetic breast reduction surgery was $5,475 in 2019. However, many health insurance companies will cover the cost when it is medically necessary. Each company will have their own policy with criteria for coverage. This may include trying other treatments first, such as weight loss or physical therapy. If you are considering this surgery, call your insurance company and find out about the coverage requirements.

5. Nose Reshaping

Nose reshaping—or rhinoplasty—can change the nose’s size, shape, or overall symmetry. This can include altering the length, width, profile, tip or nostrils. The goal is to create better facial harmony by improving the proportions of your nose. The surgery can also correct structural problems that affect breathing.

To reshape the nose, surgeons make incisions either inside the nose or into the strip of skin separating the nostrils. Then, they lift the skin away from the bones and cartilage. Depending on your needs, they will either remove bone or cartilage or add cartilage grafts. The average surgeon’s fee for nose reshaping was $5,409 in 2019. Like breast reduction, nose reshaping is sometimes medically necessary. If this is the case, many health insurance companies will cover the procedure. Call your insurance company to find out about coverage criteria and the preauthorization process.

Other Considerations

Before spending a lot of money on elective surgery, experts recommend consulting your doctor, a therapist, and your loved ones to make sure you have a specific goal in mind. Many surgeons caution it is important to be realistic about how much a cosmetic procedure may improve your self-image. The best candidates for cosmetic surgery are those who want the surgery for themselves and have realistic expectations for improvement.

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    1. 2019 Average Surgeon/Physician Fees. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. https://www.plasticsurgery.org/documents/News/Statistics/2019/cosmetic-procedures-average-cost-2019.pdf
    2. 2019 Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Statistics. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. https://www.plasticsurgery.org/documents/News/Statistics/2019/cosmetic-procedure-trends-2019.pdf
    3. 2019 Plastic Surgery Statistics. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. https://www.plasticsurgery.org/news/plastic-surgery-statistics 
    4. 2019 Top Five Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Procedures. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. https://www.plasticsurgery.org/documents/News/Statistics/2019/top-five-cosmetic-plastic-surgery-procedures-2019.pdf
    5. Body Lift. American Society of Plastic Surgeons.http://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/body-lift.html
    6. Breast Reduction. American Society of Plastic Surgeons.http://www.plasticsurgery.org/reconstructive-procedures/breast-reduction.html
    7. Facelift. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. http://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/facelift.html
    8. Rhinoplasty. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/rhinoplasty/cost
    9. Tummy Tuck. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. http://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/tummy-tuck.html
      Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
      Last Review Date: 2020 Aug 5
      View All Cosmetic Procedures Articles
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