Cosmetic Surgery as a Christmas Gift

Some plastic surgeons have helped their bottom line by encouraging people to purchase gift cards for cosmetic surgery. As one plastic surgeon’s website says: "Gift cards can be used to give any plastic surgery service as a present."

Posted on | Arthur Perry, MD, FACS | Comments ()

Some plastic surgeons have helped their bottom line by encouraging people to purchase gift cards for cosmetic surgery.  As one plastic surgeon’s website says: "Gift cards can be used to give any plastic surgery service as a present."

At first glance, this may seem just fine to many of you. After all, many have received or given gift certificates to restaurants and stores. So why not a facelift as a gift? Let’s think carefully about this.

What if the gift recipient doesn’t want cosmetic surgery; this is particularly true if the gift certificate was for a particular procedure. What do they do with the gift certificate then? Is it returnable? Is there a penalty to return it? Is there an expiration date? 

What if the recipient isn’t a candidate for the surgery – for medical or psychological reasons? What then? Can they insist on the procedure because it was already paid for? 

What if the recipient is insulted? “Is there something wrong with me? He gave me a breast augmentation gift certificate but I think my breasts are just fine …”

And what happens if there is a poor outcome or a complication? Is there liability to the purchaser? That’s an interesting question for the attorneys out there. And what if the patient doesn’t have health insurance that pays for that complication? Who is responsible for the bills then? The gift giver or the patient?

It’s a little more complicated than it seems at first glance. What’s the answer? Most plastic surgeons draw the line at a consultation as the only reasonable plastic surgery gift. If the doctor and patient agree that a procedure is reasonable, then certainly the patient can have a third party pay for her. At that point, there are only financial and medicolegal, but not ethical, issues.

Blog written by Arthur Perry, MD, FACS
Dr. Perry has over 2 decades of experience as a clinical surgeon and has been named to the “Best Doctors in the NY Area” book...