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In hard times, a cosmetic hard sell

New York Times, November 6, 2008

In light of drastic consumer cutbacks on spending, some dermatologists, facial surgeons, and plastic surgeons are promoting the kinds of markdowns, coupons, or two-fers you might expect to find in supermarket circulars—complete with restrictions like "offer not good with any other promotion." The Web sites of some surgeons list promotions like $500 off a single operation or $1,000 off a combination of body or facial surgeries. Consumers pay cash up front for cosmetic procedures and, because the treatments are medically unnecessary, they are typically not covered by insurance, which explains why doctors' marketing efforts can resemble a department store white sale.