Aug 09, 2012

Running the Numbers: How Much Does Breast Augmentation Really Cost?

Breast augmentation costs vary widely depending on the location of your surgery, the type of implants you choose, the extent of the procedure and your plastic surgeon's fees. Based on these factors, you may pay anywhere from $2,250 to $9,000 for the initial surgery and implants. As you tally up your costs, don't forget to consider the cost of revisions, implant replacement, diagnostic tests and follow-up care in the years ahead.

Comparing Regional Prices

The cost of breast augmentation—including the plastic surgeon's fee, breast implants, facility costs, anesthesia and routine follow-up care—differs from city to city. A comparative study of the costs of breast augmentation in the U.S. showed that the cheapest cities to have breast augmentation with saline implants are:

  1. Miami, Florida: $2,249
  2. Washington, DC: $3,500
  3. Austin, Texas: $4,000
  4. Chicago, Illinois: $4,000
  5. Las Vegas, Nevada: $4,000

All of these prices represent the lowest quotes, and actual quotes will vary from one patient to another. If you live a city where breast augmentation is more expensive (low quotes range from $5,000 to $5,700 in Dallas, Seattle and St. Louis, for example), you might cut your costs by going out of town to have your surgery. But if you don't have a plastic surgeon in your area who is willing to follow up with your care, you'll end up spending a lot of money traveling to your postoperative checkups.

Comparing the Cost of Implants

The type of implant you choose makes a big difference in the cost of breast augmentation. Saline implants are the least expensive, followed by conventional silicone, which can raise the cost of surgery by $1,000 or more. Cohesive gel implants, or "gummy bears," from Silimed were approved by the FDA in 2012 and are still the most expensive option, costing several hundred dollars more than traditional silicone. Plastic surgeons have the option to mark up the manufacturer's price at their discretion, so it pays to compare implant costs when you review your individual quotes.

Breast Implants and Health Insurance

Primary breast augmentation, or elective augmentation for cosmetic purposes, is not covered by health insurance. Surgical revision to correct the original surgery is usually not covered, either, unless the procedure is medically necessary to treat an infection or resolve pain. Some insurers will pay for the removal of an implant if the patient's health is at stake, but they won't pay to have a defective implant replaced. If you need any medical treatment as a result of breast augmentation, check with your insurance company about whether your costs will be covered.

The Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 requires health insurance companies to cover breast reconstruction after cancer if the insurer also covers mastectomies. The services covered and the extent of the coverage vary from one provider to another.

Breast Implant Warranties

Implant manufacturers in the United States offer free lifetime warranties on their products. The free warranty will typically cover the cost of replacing a defective implant and will cover a percentage of your surgical costs for up to 10 years after your surgery. The company will also cover a portion of your surgical fees, usually up to $1,200. When you're purchasing implants, check the terms of the free warranty to see whether the manufacturer will cover the cost of replacing the intact implant if one of your implants breaks.

An extended breast implant warranty is a small investment that could save you a lot of money in the future. Extended warranties offer benefits like free implant upgrades, additional financial assistance with surgical fees and replacement of both implants if one implant fails.

Weighing the Costs of Augmentation

There are a lot of ways to cut costs on breast augmentation, but in many cases, cutting costs also means cutting corners. An inflated price doesn't necessarily mean that the surgeon is more experienced or more skilled than the competition. On the other hand, you should never risk your health, your appearance or your emotional well-being just to save money.