No matter which you choose, Thermage or surgery, you can count on one thing: paying for the procedure out of your own pocket. As you can imagine, insurance typically won't cover these elective procedures. And also as you would expect, surgery usually costs more than Thermage.
Consider the typical facelift. Prices vary from one location and doctor to the next, but the national average for physician and surgeon fees for a facelift was $6,792 in 2007 [source: Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Research]. And that's not the final cost -- there may also be anesthesia costs, facility costs, medication, medical testing and other miscellaneous services that add to it.
The cost of Thermage is estimated to be between $2,500 and $4,500 [source: Singer]. Again, there can be quite a variation in price, depending on what body part the treatment is addressing and where your doctor practices. Thermage for the forehead should cost about $750 [source: Schuck]. But unlike surgery, Thermage shouldn't involve numerous additional fees.
Thermage seems like a bargain, relatively speaking. But even if your Thermage treatment brings you dramatic results, those results won't last more than a few years -- three to four, tops, and likely a lot less for cellulite treatment.
It's probably safe to say that a good facelift will generally last two or three times as long as Thermage. When pressed, many doctors estimate that a facelift will last seven to 10 years or more [source: Facelift Q & A]. So when you compare the cost of surgery to the number of Thermage treatments you might have during that same time span, you'll see the costs of the two are closer than they appear.
Obviously, there's a lot to consider when choosing between Thermage and traditional plastic surgery. It's not an easy decision, but an experienced doctor can help you weigh all the options and decide if Thermage is a good alternative for you.