: The size of the plastic surgery workforce has important effects on the financial environment of the specialty. Economic theory predicts that increasing the area supply of surgeons performing aesthetic surgery will result in lower fees for their services. This study tested that theory in the actual aesthetic surgery marketplace. The study examined the ratio of plastic surgeons to the general population of several states. It then traced the aesthetic surgery fees resulting from different densities of area plastic surgeons. This information was economically analyzed to project the fee effects of possible future changes in the number of practicing plastic surgeons.
For the states of New York, California, and Texas, there is a proportional decrease in fees as the density of plastic surgeons increases. For example, New York has 34 percent more plastic surgeons proportionally than Texas, and its fees are 30 percent lower in real dollars. Economic analysis can project the fee effects of changing the supply of surgeons performing aesthetic surgery. The analysis reveals that a 30 percent national increase in the supply of plastic surgeons would lower fees by approximately 32 percent. Similarly, if the number of plastic surgeons increases by 50 percent, fees will decrease by approximately 53 percent. However, these fee effects can be mitigated by expanding the demand for aesthetic surgery. In conclusion, the size of the plastic surgery workforce has profound effects on the fees paid for aesthetic surgery, and the magnitude of these effects can be understood, predicted, and optimized using the tools of economics. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 104: 559, 1999.)
(C)1999American Society of Plastic Surgeons