Since insurance does not cover breast augmentation, customers pay the surgeon themselves. Cosmetic plastic surgery is a for-profit industry.

Legally, any doctor may call himself a plastic surgeon. This means there is always the risk that a doctor who wants to make a little quick cash will give himself this title; thus it is vital that patients research and choose a board-certified plastic surgeon. Even more important than the for-profit/not-for-profit distinction is receiving surgery from a certified professional.

What Does It Mean For A Surgeon To Be Board-Certified?

Board-certified plastic surgeons have spent at least three of their six years of surgical training focused specifically on plastic surgery. Once they have completed their training, most plastic surgeons go on to work at private, for-profit clinics. They are highly trained specialists who perform non-lifesaving procedures and are paid directly by their customers.

Tough Times For Hospitals:

More and more not-for-profit hospitals have restructured to for-profit models in order to cut costs and stay in business. Consequently, a great wave of backlash has arisen, arguing that medical practitioners need to prioritize patient health over personal profit.

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For-profits spend less in areas like personnel, charity care, hired help and length of stay; while spending over 20 percent more on administration than their not-for-profit competitors. Meanwhile, the admistrators argue that a for-profit hospital that remains in business is better than a not-for-profit who has had to close its doors.

Good News For Cosmetic Surgery Patients:

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reported that in 2011, only eleven percent of cosmetic procedures were performed in a hospital, vs. 69 percent in an office. But for-profit clinics and hospitals are more likely to offer profitable services. This includes cosmetic surgeries like breast augmentation; the most common plastic surgery in America.

In conjunction with a 2007 study, determining, “Legislative regulations, decreasing reimbursements for office procedures, and malpractice premiums have transformed plastic surgery from an office-based specialty into a hospital-based one.”

While the ASPS study seems to refute this conclusion, the trend stands firm. As more hospitals morph into for-profits, more hospitals will offer profitable breast augmentation procedures; which will increase competition, in turn driving down prices across the industry.

A Not-For-Profit Option:

Patients have the option of getting breast implants at a university or teaching hospital. Search online for local university hospitals too see if any have a plastic surgery department, since plastic surgeons-in-training offer many of the same services as board-certified surgeons. Obviously there is a risk, but do some research into how frequently the specific hospital performs breast augmentations, and how satisfied the patients are. If it all lines up, it could mean a much less costly option.

If you would prefer your surgery to take place in a hospital rather than a clinic, but want a professional instead of a student, search for a top local plastic surgeon and his affiliated hospital. Top plastic surgeons generally have hospital privileges, giving them access to a full range of resources.

Beyond that, the only plastic surgery performed by not-for-profits takes place via organizations aimed at victims; including those suffering from severe burns, cancer and other tragedies.

The Bottom Line

Breast augmentation is a for-profit industry. All accredited medical facilities, whether hospitals or independent clinics, offer a wide range of medical devices that make them essentially equal when it comes to plastic surgery.