: The laws of microeconomics explain how prices affect consumer purchasing decisions and thus overall revenues and profits. These principles can easily be applied to the behavior aesthetic plastic surgery patients. The UCLA Division of Plastic Surgery resident aesthetics clinic recently offered a radical price change for its services. The effects of this change on demand for services and revenue were tracked. Economic analysis was applied to see if this price change resulted in the maximization of total revenues, or if additional price changes could further optimize them.
Economic analysis of pricing involves several steps. The first step is to assess demand. The number of procedures performed by a given practice at different price levels can be plotted to create a demand curve. From this curve, price sensitivities of consumers can be calculated (price elasticity of demand). This information can then be used to determine the pricing level that creates demand for the exact number of procedures that yield optimal revenues. In economic parlance, revenues are maximized by pricing services such that elasticity is equal to 1 (the point of unit elasticity).
At the UCLA resident clinic, average total fees per procedure were reduced by 40 percent. This resulted in a 250-percent increase in procedures performed for representative 4-month periods before and after the price change. Net revenues increased by 52 percent. Economic analysis showed that the price elasticity of demand before the price change was 6.2. After the price change it was 1. We conclude that the magnitude of the price change resulted in a fee schedule that yielded the highest possible revenues from the resident clinic. These results show that changes in price do affect total revenue and that the nature of these effects can be understood, predicted, and maximized using the tools of microeconomics. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 103: 695, 1999.)
(C)1999American Society of Plastic Surgeons