When it comes to non-reconstructive-based plastic surgery, patients bear the costs—from consultation and surgery to aftercare and follow-ups. With non-invasive procedures and “tweakments” rising in popularity, many wonder if they, too, can achieve the look for less.
Two individuals with a vested stake in this matter— Todd Watts, CEO and co-founder of patient financing company PatientFi, and Sean Kelishadi, MD, FACS, a board-certified plastic surgeon at Newport Beach, Calif.-based SSK Plastic Surgery and a PatientFi customer—sit down with Plastic Surgery Practice to discuss all things patient financing. After all, they explain, money talks—and greatly influences patient decisions.
Plastic Surgery Practice: To start, what were the most popular cosmetic procedures for your practice in 2022?
Sean Kelishadi: Post COVID-19, there was a surge of desire for cosmetic treatments and procedures, and we’ve continued to see this heightened interest with our patients. On the surgical side, the most common procedures we perform at our practice are breast augmentation, tummy tucks, and facelifts. On the non-surgical side, many patients are looking to add rejuvenation treatments, like Botox and fillers, along with radiofrequency skin tightening and microneedling procedures; others want to enhance their look with lip fillers.
PSP: When it comes to “tweakments”—i.e., non-surgical, minimally invasive treatments—who are the patients asking for these procedures and what is the average cost of some of these procedures?
Kelishadi: Non-surgical treatments like injectables or body contouring are more popular than ever. Women and men alike are placing more importance on their own image and self-confidence. When it comes to facial procedures, older patients are seeking treatments like microneedling with radiofrequency or energy based ablative procedures like lasers, which help restore and refresh their appearance so they can look as good on the outside as they feel inside.
For the average woman in her 50s, costs for full facial rejuvenation typically range from $2,400-8,500. For younger patients, it’s all about beautification and preventative treatments like lip filler and Botox. These treatments can cost anywhere from $700-$3,000, depending on the amount of product needed to achieve and maintain their best results.
We’ve also seen a lot of patients seeking body-contouring treatments to help remove fat and tone their muscles to improve their overall appearance. Cost can vary depending on the target area—although we do offer a 3-in-1 BlissMax package that uses laser lipolysis (to reduce fat), electrostimulation (to build muscle), and radiofrequency combined with pulsed elctromagnetic fields (for the ultimate skin tightening) at $900 for an area on the abdomen. This procedure requires several cycles that take place over two months to achieve optimal results, and packages start at around $6,500. Regardless of the procedure, our patients want to natural, restorative look that’s customized for their unique aesthetic needs.
PSP: Patients seeking cosmetic procedures, including tweakments, have to pay out of pocket. How are most patients financing these procedures?
Kelishadi: Our goal is always to deliver a personalized approach when designing a treatment plan for our patients. We aim to combine our patient’s desires with the most up-to-date treatment options to optimize their outcome and experience. This can become cost-intensive, so we offer PatientFi, which allows our patients to get what they want now and pay over time on a monthly plan.
PSP: Todd, you started PatientFi, a patient financing platform, in 2017. Why did you think there was a need for such a platform?
Todd Watts: Despite having patient financing options in the market for decades, affordability is still, by far, the No.1 reason why patients don’t move forward with an elective medical procedure. Meanwhile, research has shown that 40% of patients who didn’t move forward with plastic surgery would have said “yes” if they had known financing was an available way to pay. We asked ourselves, “How are so many prospective patients leaving their initial consult and never hear that they have an option to pay via a monthly payment plan? Even worse, how many patients never come for an initial consult because they assume they can’t afford it?”
We learned plastic surgery practices were only offering financing to those patients who asked for it and/or those who expressed their concern with the price. We set out to solve this problem.
PatientFi offers more than just patient financing to our plastic surgery practice partners. With PatientFi, plastic surgery practices can start seamlessly price quoting based on an affordable monthly payment versus the full upfront cost. What sounds more affordable: ‘The price for breast augmentation is $8,000, or the price is $199 per month’? Every plastic surgery practice wants to be busier, particularly during trying economic times. PatientFi has proven to help plastic surgeons dramatically increase their case conversion and sales by replacing the barrier of affordability with a simple, user-friendly payment plan.
PSP: What types of procedures does PatientFi cover?
Watts: PatientFi covers any procedure (or part of a procedure) not covered by insurance. Importantly, this means patients can also finance the associated surgery center costs (e.g., OR, anesthesia) in addition to the surgeon fee and cost supplies. Patients can finance most, if not all, procedures in a plastic surgeon’s office from breast augmentations, mommy makeovers, liposuction to non-surgical procedures like injectables and body contouring.
PSP: Dr. Kelishadi, have you identified any trends among patients who finance cosmetic procedures?
Kelishadi: We often see patients opt for zero-interest options, which have shorter terms for lower-cost treatments—typically, $5,000 and under. For surgical treatments like breast augmentation, most patients choose longer terms, such as the 36-month, fixed-rate option.
PSP: Did you offer some type of patient financing or monthly payments in your practice prior to PatientFi?
Kelishadi: We previously offered medical credit cards as a financing option but have since found a better, easier to use solution with PatientFi.
PSP: How does PatientFi help differentiate a practice?
Watts: You know a busy PatientFi practice when you see one. A PatientFi practice markets their most popular procedures on an affordable monthly payment. They will market affordable monthly payments through social media, email campaigns, and waiting room TV screens. Book Now, Pay Later: Mommy Makeover for $249/month. Some of the heaviest users of PatientFi are plastic surgeons who are also the most expensive versus their competitors. PatientFi has allowed these esteemed surgeons to reach new demographics without having to reduce their price by a dollar.
PSP: What can providers expect when onboarding PatientFi?
Watts: Everything is easy with PatientFi—for starters, our platform experience is fully digital so there’s no need for practice staff to deal with the frustration of filing paper receipts. From the beginning, we built the platform with the day-to-day workflows of the practice staff in mind. So, practice staff can expect greater efficiency in their day-to-day interactions with the platform. I believe we offer practice staff the most user-friendly patient financing platform available.
And when staff or patients need support, they can reach an onshore team directly. All our practices receive a dedicated Provider Success Manager to deliver white-glove service and help practices get the most out of using PatientFi.
We also offer a waterfall approval solution through PatientFi and our second-look financing partner, Genesis Financial Partners. This means higher approvals and happier patients.
PSP: What is the patient experience with PatientFi?
Watts: Patients can apply in seconds and get approved instantly without a hard credit check. PatientFi aims to be fully transparent and fair—there’s no hidden fees or “gotchas” in the fine print and we do not charge compounding interest. We maintain a five-star Google rating so practices can trust that their patients are in good hands with PatientFi.
PSP: Have you identified any trends in how a tool like PatientFi can impact patient acquisition?
Watts: Today’s consumers expect to pay for things in affordable monthly payments. Entertainment, clothing, fitness, and more have all moved in this direction. It’s time healthcare followed suit.
We’ve seen great success in increasing case acceptance for providers by helping them market on monthly amounts. PatientFi practices that promoted breast augmentation on a monthly payment saw two-times growth in case volume compared to those that did not offer PatientFi.
Additionally, in a tightened economic climate, plastic surgery procedures aren’t recession-proof. It’s more important now than ever to have the best financing partner to make procedures more affordable—and embrace promoting monthly amounts, so your patients don’t abandon you for the nearby practice that is adopting more cost-conscious promotion and payment strategies.
PSP: How should plastic surgery practices incorporate a discussion about PatientFi into their patient consultations or their marketing?
Kelishadi: Bring financing to the forefront of the practice. Proactively promote and present monthly pricing when discussing the total cost of a procedure. We’ve seen substantial success advertising procedures like liposuction and breast augmentation on a monthly amount to show patients how affordable surgical treatments can be. For example, instead of advertising the starting cost of a breast augmentation at $7,500, we will promote it as $199/month.
PSP: Do you have any tips for plastic surgery practices incorporating PatientFi that can help them maximize its impact?
Kelishadi: PatientFi offers complimentary customized marketing to help practices promote their procedures on a monthly cost. Practices should take advantage of this offering to help drive new patient acquisition and proactively offer a monthly price during consultations to increase case acceptance. This helps empower patients to move forward in a way that makes sense for them financially—without uncomfortable conversations around cost.