One of the more popular questions we receive when a new patient inquires about getting Botox for the first time is, “How much does Botox Cost?” After reading this blog, you will know everything there is to know about how Botox is priced and become an educated consumer.
Where do medical practices buy Botox?
All legitimate medical practices buy their Botox from the manufacturer, Allergan. Allergan’s US headquarters is based in Irvine, CA, and is the only legal distributor of Botox in the United States. There has been a rash of “illegal importation” from importers all over the world recently. While these entities claim to offer “real” Botox at lower prices, there is no quality control or government oversight on these entities, and there could be anything in the vials that are purchased. Illegal importation is an unacceptable practice in our view, as patient safety should be first and foremost.
Understanding Botox Treatments from the Medical Providers POV
An integral part of your understanding of Botox pricing is understanding how a trained medical provider approaches a Botox Treatment. An experienced Botox provider will speak with you about your concerns and then assess the areas you want to be treated. They are internally processing some complex things like muscle strength, skin quality, existing asymmetry, and a host of other factors. This is where choosing an experienced medical provider pays off as they have treated 1000’s of other patients with different variables, and that experience informs their decisions when treating you. They will then choose the appropriate dosing for each area of concern. In the case of Botox, dosing is in the form of “units” (more explanation below). Too many units will produce an undesirable result, and the same can be said about receiving a Botox treatment with too few units. Again, this is where choosing an experienced Botox injector pays off.
Now that you understand how a Botox injector approaches your treatment. Let’s turn our attention to the language you will encounter when asking about pricing. Specifically, there are two words that you need to become very familiar with if you are considering Botox. These words are “unit” and “area.” The reason these words are so important is that these are the two types of pricing structures you will encounter as you speak with different medical practices.
Botox Pricing by the “Unit”
Every legitimate medical practice purchases its Botox vials from the manufacturer, Allergan. There are two different sizes of vials of Botox that you can buy from Allergan, and they are 50 unit vials or 100 unit vials. When a medical practice purchases these vials, they store them in a secure, refrigerated area until it is time to use them for their patients. When you are receiving your treatment, your medical provider will access your area of concern and determine the number of units to be placed into very specific areas on your face. This is why you should choose your medical provider wisely as they should have the expertise to understand how many units need to go in these specific regions of the face.
As mentioned above, an experienced injector will develop a treatment plan for you based on their experience and then inject the appropriate amount of “units” into the areas to be treated.
An Example of “Unit” Pricing for Botox
Let’s assume you wanted to treat the area between your eyebrows because you don’t like the creases that are developing in that area. The medical practice you have chosen charges $13 per unit and injects 30 units to treat that area. Your cost as the consumer would be $325 (30 units x $13 = $325).
This is how “unit” pricing works.
Botox Pricing by the “Area”
When discussing Botox pricing by “area,” you need to understand what an “area” means to grasp this type of pricing fully. In area pricing, there are typically three distinct areas that are being referred to when you hear this term.
1) Glabella – The space between your eyebrows
2) Frontalis – forehead
3) Lateral Canthal Lines – Crows feet
When you hear “area” pricing, you are paying a fixed dollar amount for each area that you want to be treated.
An Example of “Area” Pricing for Botox
Let’s assume a medical practice charges $300 per area, and you only want the space between your eyebrows treated (glabella). Your cost as the consumer would be $300. This charge would be regardless of how many units are being used to treat that area.
Which Botox Pricing Model is Better?
Well, this is where you have come to the right place. We are going to shoot you straight even if that means ruffling a few feathers! We firmly believe that “unit” pricing is the fairest and most equitable way of pricing Botox. How can we state that with such confidence? Well, let’s review the facts.
We all buy Botox by units, and we all inject Botox by units. It only makes sense to charge by units?
Here is the problem with charging by “area.” Nobody is the same! Every individual should be receiving customized dosing based on their needs and not a cookie-cutter approach. That means if you need fewer units than the average person, then you should receive those units and only pay for those units.
Here’s an Example to Explain
Let’s say you go to a practice that charges $300 per area. You receive your treatment, which is deemed to be 20 units for the “area” between your eyebrows (glabella). You have just paid $15/unit! Conversely, if your friend comes into the same practice and needs 30 units for the same area to get the same result, then they just paid $10/unit. This doesn’t seem correct to us. Again, if the practice chose to charge by units, then you would have paid less than your friend for those units, which is the way it should be.
Now that you know how Botox is priced, you should be aware that all practices pay the same price for a 50/100 unit vial of Botox. While every person wants a good deal for their dollar, you need to understand how different practices arrive at their price. A host of factors usually determines the “markup” on the units, but mainly, this markup is governed by the expertise of the injector you are going to see. If you are going to see an injector that has years of experience and vast amounts of happy patients, then you can expect to pay a little more per unit. Conversely, if you see prices that are extremely low, you should ask yourself if this is an experienced injector, or are they using something other than authentic Botox (See importation above).
Botox Cost Conclusion
We hope that this has helped educate and provide context for this common question regarding Botox. All medical practices pay the exact same for their Botox. An internal decision at each practice is made as to which pricing model they are going to use, Units or Areas. After that, another internal decision is made in regard to how much they are going to markup their treatments. We here at Pittman Plastic Surgery think that unit pricing is the correct way to price our treatments and our Botox expertise is unsurpassed as we have Dr. Chelsea Venditto and Charlotte Sims, BSN, MSN providing our treatments. Dr. Venditto is a fellowship-trained plastic surgeon, and Charlotte is CANS (Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist) certified provider, which is the highest mark of distinction in the field for Nurse Injectors nationally.
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