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Is a gift card for cosmetic surgery a good idea?

Arthur W. Perry, MD
Plastic Surgery
At first glance, gift cards for cosmetic surgery 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.
Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgery
I do not believe cosmetic surgery gift cards are a good idea. Giving a gift card for a procedure that the patient doesn't need or desire can lead to catastrophic results. Instead, give a gift card for your favorite restaraunt or department store.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.