BitCoin, Cryptocurrencies Increasingly Popular Among Plastic Surgeons, Patients

by Surgical Times

Witnessing the recent rise of Bitcoin in the beauty sector, Dr. Babak Azizzadeh is jumping in. Beginning this month, the board-certified facial plastic surgeon and parotid tumor specialist accepts Bitcoin at both of his Beverly Hills practices. “It’s easier and safer than ever to accept,” and it and the blockchain are the next phase of technology, he says.

Azizzadeh has kept tabs on Bitcoin since 2010, when 10,000 of the coins were (now infamously) exchanged for two Papa John’s pizzas.

Valued at $428M in 2021, that sum will get you well more than an expert facelift.

Cosmetic cryptocurrency adoption

The adoption of cryptocurrency for cosmetic procedures dates back to November 2013, when Miami’s Vanity Cosmetic Surgery became the first cosmetic providers to accept it for plastic surgery procedures. Given its inherent risk and volatility, Vanity initially let patients finance 20% of their total procedure cost with Bitcoin, but just two months later due to its popularity, they removed all limitations and increased that threshold to 100%.

When first adopted by a plastic surgery practice, Bitcoin was going for $1,200. Today, one Bitcoin costs $43,000 and as the cryptocurrency has become increasingly popular, plastic surgeons and patients have adopted it in greater numbers, with increasingly more plastic surgeons adopting the versatile currency in 2020 and 2021.

In late April 2021, Toronto’s SixSurgery became Canada’s first cosmetic clinic to accept Bitcoin payments for procedures. In October, Georgia Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery became Atlanta state’s first to accept cryptocurrency payments. Other providers accepting Bitcoin and cryptocurrency payments for plastic surgery include Lotus in Connecticut and Gotham Plastic Surgery in New York (both practices adopted it in January 2018), LEA Plastic Surgery in Newport Beach, CA, and Aristocrat Plastic Surgery & MedAesthetics in New York.

75% of surveyed surgeons would accept Bitcoin

In a May 2021 video produced by the Plastic Surgery Channel, 10 out of 13 plastic surgeons questioned said they would consider accepting Bitcoin payments for plastic surgery, and many of those surveyed already were.

RealSelf talks crypto advantages

By midyear, RealSelf was also sharing the advantages of using cryptocurrencies to pay for cosmetic procedures, among them being:

  • Value Increase: Its dramatic increase in value over time may allow early adopters who invested years ago to afford procedures today that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.
  • Anonymity: Cryptocurrency payments are relatively (not entirely) untraceable.
  • Convenience: Transfers are near-instant.
  • Reduced Fees: The cost of transferring cryptocurrencies is typically less than the cost of credit card and other related fees. 

“Now is the time for my industry to accommodate patients who desire to use cryptocurrency for more and more of their day-to-day financial transactions and this is a direction that most businesses will need to move towards,” says Azizzadeh.

The dark side of cosmetic crypto • Vanity, 2013

For all the upsides and benefits to cosmetic cryptocurrency, a word of caution is in order.

More important than its early-adoption and popularity lessons, Vanity offers a glimpse of a potentially more sinister side to untraceable payments for plastic surgery.

Vanity of 2014 became Eres in 2016, which became Jolie in 2017, and despite the frequent name changes—for “marketing purposes”—some of the individuals closely connected with the practice that first adopted cryptocurrency for cosmetic procedures were involved in the deaths of multiple patients.

Cryptocurrency evidently had nothing to do with that practice and its trail of death, but it’s worth pointing out to potential patients interested in paying some already-questionable cosmetic practice in cryptocurrency that the funds may be a) entirely untraceable, and b) impossible to recover.

Surgical Times provides objective public interest reporting on the practice of plastic surgery and is not affiliated with or funded by any surgeon or practice.