LJC’s resident financing expert Meredith talks to us about how being financially prepared takes all the awkwardness and guesswork out of the consultation to make dreams become real now. She lets us in on the surprisingly easy ways to pay for surgery, including zero interest plans and flexible options that are just like credit cards.
Visit our financing page to try our financing calculator and read more about LJC’s plastic surgery financing plans.
- See the LJC plastic surgery and medical spa pricing
- Join the LJC GlamFam to save on surgery, treatments, and skincare
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You’re listening to the La Jolla Cosmetic Podcast with the LJC Chief Community Officer Monique Ramsey.
Welcome everyone to another episode of the La Jolla Cosmetic Podcast, where dreams become real. Today, I’m so excited to interview Meredith, who is one of our patient care coordinators, and is really our specialist having to do with financing and the ins and outs of getting financing, what you need to do to be approved, how it all works. So welcome.
Yay. Thank you for having me. I’m so excited.
So Meredith, tell us about your role here and maybe what a typical day is like.
So a typical day for me is just taking that initial call for patients who are interested in plastic surgery and just really giving them as much support and information as possible. It really is my job and the other girls who were in my position to educate as much as possible. And a big question that a lot of people have, obviously, when it comes to plastic surgery is how much? How could I pay for this? Do I have options? What can you help me with?
So sort of a brand promise that we have, it really is trying to help you go from having it be a dream, whether it’s changing your shape, restoring yourself back to your pre-baby self with a mommy makeover, whether you’re thinking about, okay, it’s really time for a facelift, or even if it’s something like Ultherapy upstairs or CoolSculpting, there are financing options. So how much time do you spend with the patients on the phone or prospective patients talking about their dreams and helping that dream become a reality?
I would say on average, the very least amount of time I spend with someone on the phone is 20 minutes. And that’s just the initial phone call. That’s not if they come back with questions after their consult. I’ll talk to people as long as they want, I’m happy to. Because I know this is a big decision and obviously you want to feel comfortable and you want to feel like you made the right choice. So I’ve definitely talked to people for 40 minutes to an hour, just the initial phone call. I am so happy that I get to be in this role. I think I personally am the perfect person for it because, before I started working with La Jolla Cosmetic, I underwent plastic surgery myself and I was young. I was 24 and financing, obviously, was a big concern for me.
I was young. I was out of college. Obviously, you have a lot of debt coming out of college. And the thought of paying thousands of dollars was really daunting to me. And so what’s so wonderful is that we do offer options here. I was able to finance my surgery and through that and going through the process, I feel like I learned so much and can educate people on that. Because, I’m not going to lie, when I was 24 and I was hit with, “This is how much it costs to have the procedure done and for it to be done right with the surgeon you trust,” I was a little scared. I was like, “That number is really big to me.” And then when I was educated on, “Well, here are your options. We can break it down,” it became so realistic to me.
I was like, oh my goodness, this is something I had wanted for so long and had thought about. And for years, I was like, “I’m going to save, I’m going to save.” And for myself to find out I could have a payment plan, it made my dream a reality. So now when I get to articulate that to patients and share in the voice, and even when I see them in person and see their eyes light up, because I tell them, “Look, we offer up to 24 months, no interest.”
That’s amazing. I don’t think there’s any office around here that really does that long, but that’s two years that you really have to chip away at this number that when you get it on paper might look a little scary, but when you break it down like that, it’s like, “Oh my goodness! Incredible! No problem at all.”
And I think, we’re so trained in our brains, most of us, if we see a car that we love and it’s $38,995, we know we’re not plunking down that amount of money. And they’ll say, “Oh, it’s $229 a month.” Okay. But I think a lot of patients don’t realize that the same thing can happen here. And so, it really does let you not have to wait on that dream. I think some of the patients, rather than thinking, “Oh, it’ll take me two years to save for this,” you could enjoy it two years earlier, and two years more, and you’ll heal faster. It doesn’t matter what we’re talking about, you’ll heal quicker. And so it has multifaceted benefits. So part of that conversation that you have with them is talking about money and that probably, for a lot of people, is an uncomfortable topic. How do you help people understand the costs of surgery and to feel comfortable talking to you about a personal financial?
Yeah, for sure it’s definitely an uncomfortable conversation to have with people, but I think the best way to approach it is there’s so many options. And I remind people, even people who have all the savings in the world and have the means, eight times out of 10, choose the payment plan because, why not? There’s so many various things that go on, like in our outside lives, like even this past year, like when COVID hit. If someone had put down, let’s say, $23 grand for a mommy makeover and COVID hit and they were out that money. That could be really, really hard. With this payment plan, you’re able to do it in the little stipends and pay it as you go. And I think just telling people that everyone from every different background that comes into my office considers a payment plan, I think definitely puts them at ease.
And then, again, like I was saying, I just tell them my personal story. I had a minor surgery and it was still super daunting for me. And I made my dream a reality and it was the best decision I ever made. And every month when my payment comes, I don’t even say, “Oh gosh, here it comes.” I’m like, “Yes.” I had this awesome thing. It’s just a reminder of how happy I am and how great it was.
Yeah. You can look at things like a cost or you can look at them as a benefit. And like you were saying that the way to kind of turn it around and go, “Wow. I’ve made an investment in myself.” And that, sometimes, can be the hardest thing is giving yourself permission to invest in yourself. And so some people do that, whether it’s a gym or it’s yoga classes. This is another thing that you’re going to enjoy, and that confidence, you can’t put a price tag on that, honestly. And so much of what our patients, in the feedback we get in our reviews, they’re so happy and that they see themselves in a different way. Do you have any stories of the patients who after they had the surgery, how it changed their life?
Oh yeah. Yeah. Even just going past normal cosmetic things like a breast aug., I had a patient about a month ago who had a gynecomastia, and that’s a male breast reduction for people who don’t know the term off their head. I know I didn’t when I started. But he was a water polo player and he was getting teased a lot by kids and he quit the team because he felt like he couldn’t play anymore. And then he came in and his family financed his surgery and he had it done, and now he’s back on and he is happier than ever. So it goes so much further than just enhancing. Sometimes it’s fixing things that make us self-conscious and, obviously, we shouldn’t listen to people who get on us about our appearance, but it’s just little things like that that make this job so worthwhile and just make you realize how beneficial this industry is.
So one of the things that I was wondering is, I look at different plastic surgery websites, and a lot of them will just say, call for pricing. So if I’m a prospective patient, where can I find information about prices?
We put our information, our pricing right on their website. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is. Even when I’m looking for an apartment and the website says call for pricing. I feel like it could, potentially, deter people from the office because you want to feel like this company you’re about to trust with your body, with your health, with your wellbeing, is being honest. It’s being upfront. It’s being straightforward. So we proudly put our prices right on the website because we just want to be transparent. We just want people to know that we’re on their side and know what to expect when they’re calling us. I don’t think there’s anything worse than a bad surprise at the end.
Yeah. It doesn’t serve anybody. Yeah. We do have everything on the website and hiding it isn’t helpful. Being transparent is really important. And, I know some procedures are really hard to ballpark, I think. Or you might look and see the ballparks really big from the start point to the end point, you’re like, “Wow, where do I fall in that spectrum?” But it’s in those kinds of cases, could you give us an example of something that’s a little bit hard to ballpark until they see the doctor?
I would say probably the hardest procedure for me to ballpark is liposuction. And why that is, is because that’s the one that’s really determined on how much we remove, how many areas we target. So that’s why it’s so broad. But I explain that to people and usually I’ll ask, “Well, what areas are you interested in targeting?” And if they say, “Oh, just like underneath my neck,” I’m like, “Okay, well, I can tell you you’re definitely on the low end then.” But I explain that to everyone I talk to when I give them a range. I like to explain, even for breast surgery, if you’re doing an X plan, I’ll say like high-end $10,500 low end $8,500. And a lot of people are like, “Whoa, like how do you get that high?” And I explain to them, “Well, things can happen like a capsular contracture. That’s a little bit more work. We got to remove more scar tissue. It’s a longer surgery.” So that’s kind of how I explain these ranges to people and how they differ as I give them scenarios.
They get the ballpark prior to the consultation.
But then when they have the consultation, are you in there with the doctor or do you meet with the patient afterwards to go over the fee quote?
Yes, absolutely. So during COVID, it’s been a little different. We were just calling after. But now that we’re getting a little more in person, which is super exciting, I am on site. So anytime I have a consult, I’ll put their quote together right away and I’ll bring them into my office and basically go over the quote, explain what’s included in the quote, and then give them their payment options.
And then there’s a plastic surgery ballpark monthly fee calculator on the website. And, if you go into the pricing and financing section, you can put in, “Okay, let’s put in $8,500. What would that look like in terms of a monthly fee?” And so we have those little tools that you can use and even Meredith’s pretty little faces on that page. So you can get to see what she looks like. So is there a consultation fee at La Jolla Cosmetic?
Yeah. So the wonderful thing about us that I love is that we have complimentary consults. I think that’s so important. And I think why that’s so attractive and why we love to do that is because we don’t want patients to feel like they’re just another dollar sign walking in the door. I think there are a lot of plastic surgeons that I’ve even heard of charging… The other day, someone told me they were charged $700 for a consult and my jaw dropped because that just didn’t seem right to me. I think what we want to articulate to the patient is that we value you. We value your time. And we also want to show you how confident we are in our doctors and their skill that you can talk to them so that you feel as confident as we do.
And not putting up a barrier before they even get to know who we are.
It seems like to me, if I heard of a $700 consult fee, I would just be so put off like, well, “Okay, you’re valuing the doctor’s time, but you’re clearly not worried about me.” I remember when I went wedding cake tasting a hundred years ago, throughout the day, my mom and I drove all around San Diego and there was one that’s very famous. And so we went there and we said what we’re doing. “Well, we want to taste your cakes.” And they had a fee. They’re like, “Well, you can buy something here in our…”
“Well, can we meet the baker? Can we…”
“No. You would have to set up a consultation and we charge for that.”
And it was like, how rude. I don’t care how good this cake might be. But every single thing was this barrier put in front of us. It came off feeling really like they don’t even care whether I their customer or not. And so I think that transparency of having the pricing on the website, having you and the other patient coordinators who can really help the patient throughout the process and say, “Hey, let’s look at the financing,” or, “We take credit cards.” Maybe somebody wants miles or maybe they do a little bit of each. Everybody is different and, we don’t really care. We’re going to help you make that dream a reality.
Right. And I think the wonderful thing about our quotes is that it includes everything. When someone comes to me and they’re like, “Oh, is this just like the surgeon’s fee?” I’m like, “No, I’m giving you everything. I don’t want you to have any surprises because that’s not fun for anyone. It’s OR, anesthesia surgeons fee, post-op, pre-operative care, blood work, the works. So when I give you a number and I give you that quote at the very end, that is your number.
Let’s say they get their consultation, they get their quote. And then how long is that quote good for?
Yeah. The quote is good for 30 days. We say that just because we don’t want to give someone a quote and then have, let’s say, four months later, then come back and be like, “Yeah, I’m ready to book surgery.” At that point, we just want to see you again. So that’s why we say 30 days, because we really want it to be within the timeframe that we’ve met with you, make sure that you’re going to be in the shape that you are in when we operate. There’s various reasons why we do that. But again, we’re in your corner and we know that it’s a big decision. So we do want to give you adequate time to make sure you’re feeling comfortable.
And would you say that most people, after consultation, okay, that’s a lot of information to digest. Maybe you’ve talked about financing, so they go home, you stay in touch with them and help them throughout the process?
Yeah, absolutely. And I never want the patients that come through and basically feel like I’m at their door, like, “Hey, are you going to schedule?” I just want them to know that I’m on their side. So I’ll check in, just be like, “Hey. How was your daughter’s graduation? I was thinking of you.” And I think, for a lot of people, that just really resonates with them, that we do value family and we value comfortability. And we just want everyone to feel like they’re supported.
So, I wanted to get into the different financing. So maybe if you could explain all the different programs that are offered and then maybe what the differences are.
Absolutely. So CareCredit is amazing. I think that’s one of the most well-known. They’re wonderful. Similar to them, however, we have PatientFi. I would say they’re very similar, but I tend to lean more towards PatientFi because they were actually invented by physicians. And I think that’s so wonderful because they value the patient. They know hardships that can come about when it comes to financing. And so while they both offer up to 24 months, no interest like I was talking about before, PatientFi is wonderful because they care about the patient. CareCredit, if you miss a month, I think it jumps up to something like 29%, which is very scary. PatientFi, however, understands and basically, within reason, will give you a month off if that’s something that you require. Let’s say, you know, through COVID people lost their jobs. Like that’s understandable.
We just want you to get back on your feet and so does PatientFi. That’s why I’m so grateful that we’ve been able to work with them. I think it’s helped so many people. And on top of that, I think what’s really scary for people is having your credit run. I know even when I go to buy a car and they’re like, “Okay, we’re going to run your credit.” I’m like, “Okay, go ahead.”
But the great thing about them is they’ll actually do a soft treat of your credit. So they’ll let you know how much they can pre-approve you for before even plugging that number in. And you just give them some information, like, do you rent or do you own your home? How much is your monthly income? And based on that, they’re able to give you a number. So I think that’s really reassuring to people because, before even wanting to jump into a consult, some people just want to know if they can afford it. And if they can’t afford it, they don’t want to take the hit on their credit.
Of course. So they can kind of get an idea without jumping into that next step.
So I know you work with a lot of different financing companies. Do you help steer the patient to, maybe if they say, “Well, my credit’s not great,” do they use one company or is it different plans? Do they have to have perfect credit to be able to even be approved? Or is there a range?
What we value most is making dreams become a reality. I think that’s really apparent with how we approach all of our patients. And if someone comes to me and they’re like, “Hey, Meredith. I don’t have great credit. I don’t know if I could even get approved.” We have options. We work with a company called Alphaeon. They’re a little more lenient towards people with credits who are in the fair to good range. And they have similar options as PatientFi and CareCredit where I think they’ll do up to 18 months, no interest. Further than that, if people are just like, “Meredith, I’m tough. My credit’s not great.” I’m like, “No worries. I got you.”
We do HFD, which is wonderful. You basically put down 50%. So you do have to save, but it’s an option for people who are like, I’m not going to have my credit where I need to anytime soon, but I have saved five grand. We’re like, “Wonderful. If you put down 50%, we’ll set up a payment plan for you through this company, where after surgery, which is wonderful, you start to make your monthly payments, but, of course, we just need that 50% commitment to know it’s going to be a reality.
That’s really good. Do people need to get financing lined up before they have the consultation?
No, not necessarily. If it’s something you just want to feel absolutely comfortable with before even thinking of, I totally get that. Some people just want to make sure that they’re even a candidate. If they’re going to get the results they want. So no need. This is what I do. So I would say five times out of 10, people come in and they’re like, “I’m not sure how I’m going to pay yet.” I’m like, “No problem. All we want to do is make sure you’re feeling happy and supported and that you found the surgeon for you. Once you found the surgeon, great. We’ll talk about finances.”
Something that, maybe, people don’t know, Alle is the new, brilliant distinctions. They’ve renamed it. And where people, let’s say you have Botox, you’re going to earn Alle points that translate to money off on any other Allergan product or treatment. So some people know, “Okay, Botox,” but it’s also JUVEDERM collection of fillers, and SkinMedica, and Latisse, and CoolSculpting, and Kybella. And even downstairs in our surgery center, it’s also with Natrelle breast implants. So they can get points and sometimes Natrelle has different rebates. Of course, those change all the time. But with the Natrelle breast implants, that’s also an Allergan product. So you earn points towards… So, you might have a breast aug and then you can go upstairs to the med spa and have a little filler or have a diamond glow treatment.
Yes, it’s a win-win. Alle is such a great program. I’ve actually been working with them for a long time. They’re wonderful. It doesn’t cost anything to sign up. They’re just like, “Hey, thanks for shopping. Here’s a little something something.” That’s why they’re so great. And every time you have a treatment, if you just tell your office, “Hey, I’ve got an account,” you’re basically earning money and you can build it up. And then eventually dedicate a lot of money towards some procedures, which is awesome. And it even goes down to the breast implants. And I think a lot of people don’t realize that Botox and JUVEDERM, that company does make implants. I don’t think they realize how broad their spectrum is. So if you’re going every couple of months to get some work done, eventually, you’re going to be able to even put that towards the breast aug you’ve been dreaming of, which is so awesome. It’s just another example of a company wanting you to succeed and feel like your best self.
And they work with PatientFi too. I just saw an ad the other day. They have a special partnership. Do you know much about that yet? Or is that kind of new?
So it’s new. It’s super exciting from what PatientFi has been telling me. Basically, you’re already qualified for that 24 months, no interest. There are different tiers for qualifying for up to that month. And regardless of the number that comes out, as long as you’re using the Natrelle implants, you are going to have that 24 months, no interest, which is super exciting. I think there’ll probably be some more on that in the future, but they’re just now introducing it.
And they’re great implants. I mean, we-
The whole Allergan portfolio, I have to say, because I’ve been dipping my toe into all of the different things.
I am like an Allergan connoisseur, I feel like. Everything I have, Allergan, Botox, JUVEDERM. I’m like implants-
SkinMedica. Yeah. And now the DiamondGlow. So that’s one of our newest, most amazing facials. And it’s more than a facial. It’s really a treatment. But I was in there the other day, I was picking up some SkinMedica because I ran out and I had a $40 off in my Alle account.She’s like, “Do you want to use the $40 towards…? I’m like, “Of course.” So anyway, that’s something else that I think patients don’t realize that you and our other patient coordinators, we’re going to help you, not just through your surgical process, but also, we can help you with some of the other things as well.
Oh yeah. It helps me if I’m getting your money down, like obviously all I want to do is make this easy for you. So we’re going to work as hard as we can to get it to a place where you need it to be.
Exactly. And then also, so I think we’re in our 12th year, I’ve got to really count, of the GLAMfam. And the GLAMfam is our patient VIP loyalty and savings program. And this does cost to join. Then we have a gland fam episode that you can listen to about what the benefits, and it has a big savings of 50% off if you go listen to it. But the GLAMfam is where you’re entitled to, because you’re a member, you’re entitled to better pricing on everything we do. And so if you could explain a little bit about the GLAMfam.
Yeah, absolutely. And correct me if I’m wrong, but if you have surgery with us at LJC, you’re automatically signed up for that. So unless you’re just going to the med spa and you’re like, “Hey, like I come here a lot. Maybe I should join this program.” But if you’re already down in the surgery center and you have a procedure with us, we sign you up, basically, as a thank you for trusting us.
Yeah. My boyfriend just had a procedure here done, and I was like, “Oh, just so you know, you have a free facial and 20 units of Botox. And he goes, “What? Best day ever.”
And the GLAMfam membership for a year.
Yeah, exactly. So it’s just a way, like you say, of thanking our patients. And if you didn’t start on the surgical side and say, you came up to the med spa and you were thinking about CoolSculpting. When you join the GLAMfam, then you’re going to get automatically 15, sometimes 20%, depending on if it’s a package, off of the list price. So usually that membership will pay for itself in either one visit or two visits. And certainly within the year and you save on everything and including some of the surgeon’s fees as well. So say you started in the med spa, but then you’re going downstairs to see one of the doctors for lipo. Because you’re a GLAMfam member, you’re going to save.
So that’s pretty fun. How do we get in touch if I’m a patient? What’s the best way to get in touch with you, Meredith?
We want to make it as easy as possible for our patients. We want to make sure that we feel accessible to them. So there’s various ways. You could just old fashioned give us a call and the front desk will transfer you over to one of us. Or we’ve got a texting service. If you go on our website, sometimes, you’re on the move. You don’t have a lot of time and you just want to shoot us a text. That way we know we have to reach out to you, or we can communicate with you that way. We also have an email option. You can basically just sign up on our website. Hey, I want more information about, let’s say, a facelift. This is the doctor I prefer, a little bit about me, and that comes through to our emails. And then we’re basically able to see this rundown of the patient and reach out to you.
Awesome. And so our website is LJCSC.com. Or you can even go to GLAMfam.com, which is easy, and it goes to the same place. And you can poke around. You can see before and after pictures. You can see all the patient reviews. We have thousands of reviews and they come in every single day and they automatically get posted to our website because I think that’s, as you’re doing your homework, it’s getting the money part, but it’s also, just seeing which doctor might I want to choose and you can read about them. And you can see before and afters of the procedure you’re thinking of. You can look at the financing page and use the financing calculator. There’s all kinds of great tools on there. And then the last thing would be, so I’m kind of interested to know, since our brand promises making dreams become real, in your life, just looking at you, where did you have a dream that you turned into reality?
Related to plastic surgery or-
Any dream, honestly, as cheesy as this sounds, this job is a dream. I know it could have been anything, but growing up, my mom was a doctor, brother went to medical school. I knew I wanted to be in healthcare. I went to school, I was pre-med. And I was like, I can’t be in a job that I don’t feel like is not directly benefiting the community. And I was like, I know I want to be in health care. I know I want to make people feel good about themselves. And that, to me, would make me feel whole. So I got so lucky. I moved to California. I knew I wanted to be in healthcare. I found this job and through it all, it has been such a dream. All of the surgeons are so kind and so happy to educate and literally take time out of their day to get me to where I needed to be.
And, it’s been a dream because every day I get to see patients say, “Thank you so much. I’m so happy. I can’t believe I waited this long.” That’s a big one I hear. That’s a big one for me too, before I got my surgery, I can’t believe I waited this long. But it makes me so happy. And I know that’s so cheesy to say, but I mean, everything about this has been a dream come true. And, it was made a reality because I got to fall into this role of helping people with the tricky thing is that that is financials and sometimes hard to talk about and being able to make that something that’s affordable and doable for a lot of people who probably thought like, “oh, I’ll never be able to do this,” is the best reward of all.
Oh, I love that. I love that so much. And I love the fact that I wasn’t expecting you to name the job as making a dream become real for yourself. But, I think that is true. It’s like, how do you do something that makes your heart feel good?
Yeah. I leave work feeling good every single day. I made a difference. Growing up, I feel like there’s this weird preconceived notion of like, “Oh, like plastic surgery,” but it’s so true. It changes people’s lives. It gives them new confidence. As weird as it sounds, I’m a better person after my procedure. You know what I mean? I glow differently and I think it’s so fun to be able to give that experience I had personally. What more could I ask for?
Yeah. Oh, that’s wonderful. And I think patients love talking to other people who’ve had the procedure, whether it’s another patient, and that’s something that you guys also do, which is we can talk as staff. And we’re happy to talk about our procedures with patients and give them the insider tips on how to make recovery go smoother, that kind of thing. But you know, they also sometimes want to talk to another real patient. And so I know that you guys can connect them. We have some people who are happy to share their experience. And so, that’s another part, which is, again, kind of demystifying the process.
I actually did it last week. I had a patient who is in her fifties that was like, “Meredith, my entire life I have been thinking about a breast aug. I have been too scared. Am I too old?” I was like, “Absolutely not. No such thing.” But I was able to connect her with a patient of Dr. Salazar’s recently. And she was having the same procedure and wanting to see Dr. Salazar as well, who had it recently and had a great experience. And I find that when we’re giving such expert care and such good support to our patients, they’re more than happy to talk to a prospective patient and really just be like, “This was my experience.” They’re almost more than willing because they felt so great throughout it and made such a difference in their life. They just want to share that happiness with another person.
Yeah. That’s wonderful. Well, thank you for your time today. This is really educational, really fun. And like you say, sometimes it’s hard to talk about finances or you might feel self-conscious about, “Where do I fit in in this whole process?” and to know that there’s somebody on the other side who’s going to walk you through it. You’ve got a buddy. And that sounds silly. Like back when we were at the YMCA at summer camp, you have the buddy system. But it really is. Because this is something that you may have never done before. And we have patients who’ve never had any kind of procedure before, even at the dentist.
And we’re real people too. That’s the thing. I think people probably come in and they’re like, “Oh gosh, is this person who’s going to give me the quote, like be judgmental if they realize I can’t afford it. But I think it’s so important to realize that we’re probably in similar situations as well. Like we understand and we want to support you. And that’s why we take on these roles is because we want to make you feel like you’re one of us. You’re one of the family.
One of the fam.
And yeah. And you know, we’re here to help.
Yeah. All right. Well thank you, Meredith. And everybody, be sure to look at the show notes. We’ve got links to things we talked about. How to contact us, how to call. You can text. You can email. And then we also have a little prize for you. If you subscribe or follow our podcast, then you show us that you have done that and we’ll give you $25 off of a purchase of $50 or more. So that makes it kind of fun. We just appreciate you and we appreciate you listening. So we’ll sign off and talk to you again soon. Thanks.
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