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Soften your lines and wrinkles without blowing the budget

December 11, 2008 |

In an industry built on disposable income, many spas and doctors offices are feeling nips and tucks in their own bottom lines. In a recent survey conducted by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 62 percent of responding practitioners reported a drop in cosmetic procedures during the first half of the year. The same study found that 59 percent of women considering plastic surgery said the economy has affected their plans.

In response, many spas, including some of the most elite establishments, are now offering specials and discounts – even in circles where the word discount is seldom heard.

“People like to feel like they’re getting a good deal in these economic times,” says Robyn Gray, owner of Pure Spa and Salon near Mockingbird Station. Some savings are advertised. (Does your doctor have a Botox Thursday yet?) Others might require a bit of sleuthing. Here’s a list of trade secrets that can help you have your face and peel it, too. Become a frequent flyer. Spas want your loyalty and more of your business, so they’re adding incentives. At the Uptown and Plano locations of Spa Habitat, for example, discounts are offered for multiple treatments – one Swedish massage costs $85, but you can get four for $300 and save $40. Many businesses offer similar savings, even if they’re not advertised, so when you book your next appointment, ask if they offer a series discount.

Consider bundling. Taking a page from the phone company’s marketing handbook, spas regularly package services together for a cheaper total price. Linda Wan, managing director of the Rosewood Crescent Hotel, says that buying a massage, facial, manicure and pedicure together at the Spa at the Crescent saves about 15 to 20 percent over the price of getting each separately. Even doctors offer package deals. For instance, Preston Center’s Serena MedSpa recently advertised a discount on Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) FotoFacial when packaged with laser hair removal.

Schedule at off times. Think of it like going to the Bahamas during hurricane season. Book your reservation when fewer people want to go, and you may be able to get a deal. Everyone wants to schedule a massage on a Saturday and cosmetic surgery on a Friday, so try for a spot earlier in the week. Gray says Pure Spa just started offering weekday deals such as $10 off on a Tuesday massage or half price for a salt glow exfoliation on Wednesdays. Another example: the Spa at the Crescent offers a $20 discount for Monday through Wednesday appointments. You may also find better plastic surgery deals in the summer, when business slacks off because kids are home from school or patients are more likely to be on vacation.

Negotiate. Doctors and spa professionals don’t particularly enjoy feeling like they’re trying to sell you a car. Nonetheless, a lower offer doesn’t hurt, says Dr. Bill Johnson of Innovations MedSpa, which has locations in Dallas, Fort Worth and Grapevine. Especially if (see above) you try on an unpopular day. “I’m a lot more likely to give you a discount if you’re willing to schedule your procedure on a Monday or Tuesday,” he says. Also, if you’re really flexible, try for a last-minute booking. If a patient suddenly cancels, a spa might be willing to take a customer for a lesser fee rather than see the slot go completely empty. Not all physicians or spas are willing to negotiate, but you won’t know unless you ask. “We may say no,” Dr. Johnson says, “but we’re not insulted by it.”

Opt for temporary instead of permanent. “What I see is patients using more fillers and Botox in substitution for surgery,” says Dr. Rod Rohrich, chairman of plastic surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. “They’re downgrading what they would normally get.”

Narrow your target. Ask yourself: What do I really want here? Do I really need a full facelift just to get a more refreshed look around my worried-looking eyes? Tell your surgeon or dermatologist how much you can comfortably spend, and be specific about your goals, and the doctor or staff may offer alternative suggestions within your budget.

Remember the lesson of the flat-screen TV. The first sets on the market cost thousands of dollars and were a true status symbol. Now anyone can take home a 42-inch electronic wonder for around $1,000, and it’s probably a better television. Cosmetic enhancements have undergone the same revolution. If the technology isn’t new, chances are the price has dropped. Dr. Johnson of Innovations once priced six treatments of laser hair removal at $1,900 per leg. As a holiday special, the spa offers the same service around $500. If you’re willing to consider older technology for other procedures, which may take longer to get the results you’re after or require more treatments, you might also save some money.

Bring a buddy. Two can be pampered more cheaply than one. Join a friend at the Greenhouse Spa in Arlington, for example, and you each get a $1,000 discount for a seven-night package. One January special even offers a free stay for you, if you bring a friend. Some surgeons note the advantage of his-and-hers plastic surgery: “If two people, say, a husband and wife or siblings, have a procedure together, it will cost less than two separate surgeries,” writes surgeon Stuart Linder of Beverly Hills, on

Above all, think like a smart shopper. Call around to see whether the fees your spa or doctor’s office is charging seem in line with competitors. But remember, cheaper isn’t always better, and when it comes to surgery and other permanent changes, you don’t necessarily want to put yourself in the hands of a bargain-basement operator, cautions Elana Pruitt, editorial manager of, and “Because it’s your body, you can’t return it,” she says. “You don’t want to have any regrets.”


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