Facelifts have never been cheap, and they’re getting even more expensive. Although the average cost of a facelift is $8,005, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, plenty of plastic surgeons, especially social media–famous ones, charge six figures for the surgery. With wait lists that rival ones as long as those for the coveted Hermes Birkin bag, the $100,000-plus facelift is making its mark in aesthetics. But is it worth it?
We turned to the experts to make sense of rising rates. Because at the end of the day, there are a few ways a facelift can end up with a top dollar price tag—it comes down to how you cut it (with a scalpel, that is).
Pricier Isn’t Always Better
New York plastic surgeon Elie Levine, MD, says some of the most brilliant plastic surgeons charge a premium for their expertise. “I understand paying more for that, but there needs to be a differentiation between a tastefully high price and what’s absurd,” he says. Of course, surgeons don’t need a Beverly Hills or Park Avenue address to command high prices, either. Even cosmetic surgeons who pass themselves off as board-certified plastic surgeons are quoting patients severely inflated prices.
The reason for six-figure facelifts has as much—or more—to do with economics than medicine, says Palo Alto, CA, facial plastic surgeon David M. Lieberman, MD. “A limited number of well-known surgeons say ‘supply’ is low, relative to the demand for facelifts.” He adds that some doctors spend time doing work based on their developed techniques, which comes with hard costs and value implications.
However, the desire for facelifts remains strong. Scottsdale, AZ, facial plastic surgeon Kelly Bomer, MD, notes that post-pandemic patients are ready for surgery and other rejuvenation and beautification treatments simply because they can do them. But, she says, “if enough people are willing to pay more for a facelift, that drives the price up.”
Meanwhile, plenty of patients continue to fork over substantial money for facelifts. According to Palo Alto, CA, facial plastic surgeon Sachin S. Parikh, MD, “wealthy patients from overseas are looking for the American plastic surgery experience they see on Instagram—and they’re paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for it.”
What Else Factors into Price?
Dr. Parikh says social media status, skill and expertise can affect fees, anesthesia and operating room costs (usually built into the price) influence cost, too. Beyond the hard costs come the add-ons. Facelifts are often paired with procedures like fat grafting, chin implants, brow lifts, blepharoplasty, neck liposuction or lasers to create natural-looking results. These complimenting surgeries drive up the overall price of the facelift.
Surgeons must also account for the costs of running a practice, which continue to skyrocket. Dr. Bomer says there’s inflation on every front, “including medical supplies and staffing.” So some surgeons are upping their fees to compensate for that.
But that’s not all. There are pre and post-skin care and treatments to consider, like lasers, for example, to speed up healing. Some surgeons integrate these into the overall price, while others charge extra.
Lastly, don’t discount a surgeon’s location. Those who operate in major cities charge more because the cost of living is generally higher. “Those figures are factored into procedure costs to keep a practice profitable,” Dr. Lieberman shares.
Is The $100,000 Facelift Really Worth It?
Happy patients are likely to say that an expensive facelift is worth it. Of course, plenty of exorbitant surgeries result in excellent results, but Dr. Levine says some patients require ‘fixing’ even after a six-figure lift.
Even patients who can afford to pay top dollar don’t always do. “Some say it’s not a matter of affording the surgery but rather that they are not going to pay for it,” says Dr. Levine. “Yet, some patients aren’t satisfied unless they spend the highest premium. They think because it’s expensive, it is the best.”
Patients can spend a reasonable amount of money and get a good result they’ll be happy with. Dr. Levine’s facelifts don’t cost six figures but “are probably halfway there.” The cost for a (customized) facelift with Drs. Lieberman and Parikh start at $50,000. It comes down to the value the patient puts on it. What one patient is willing to pay differs from what another will invest. And that’s okay.