20 Mar The Real Cost of LASIK
The Cost of LASIK in Loveland and Fort Collins Colorado includes the preoperative visits, the LASIK surgical procedure, the postoperative care, and touchups if needed for a given period of time. Most laser eye centers in Fort Collins Colorado bundle these into one total price for you.
The quality of the equipment used, the amount of time you spend with your surgeon, and postoperative care period all affect the cost of LASIK. In this post, I will review all of these variables that affect the pricing in Fort Collins Colorado so you will know the criteria you should use to make sure you receive high quality eye surgery and at a fair price.
There is a specific amount of money required to cover surgery expenses if you choose a LASIK center in Fort Collins Colorado that provides a high quality preoperative exam and testing, high quality LASIK equipment, and a high quality post operative experience.
Quality vs. Discount LASIK Centers
LASIK costs will be determined by the type of LASIK center in Fort Collins Colorado you choose. There are two basic types of LASIK centers: 1. Discount centers and 2. Quality centers.
The price is about the same at most discount centers and it is about the same at most quality centers.
This is because it costs the discounters a certain amount to provide this service the way they do it and the quality centers have a different cost structure for the way they provide LASIK eye surgery.
Cost of LASIK Based on Quality in Fort Collins Colorado
The discount centers charge some amount less than the quality centers in the Fort Collins Colorado area. In describing them this way I am not implying that the discounters don’t have quality or the quality centers don’t have a fair price.
I have used these terms because the discounters in Fort Collins Colorado focus on minimizing prices but have to cut some corners to achieve those price reductions, while the quality oriented centers have a specific focus on providing the highest quality, the best outcomes, and the best safety possible for your vision, which costs a bit more. You will need to decide which approach makes the most sense for you.
The Cost of LASIK for Quality Preoperative Testing
The preoperative exam contributes a great deal to the success of your procedure. There are differences in the quality of the preoperative testing equipment. All of these centers use a topographer to determine if LASIK would be safe for your eyes. Many use a machine like the “Atlas” that only measure the front surface of your cornea to decide if it is strong enough for LASIK. We use a machine called the Pentacam that measures both the front and the back surface of your cornea. Signs of weakness often start on the back surface of the cornea so I consider this part of the exam an essential part of a good preoperative exam.
Most quality LASIK centers near Fort Collins Colorado give you a chance to meet with the surgeon prior to the day of your surgery to examine your eyes, review all of the safety data, and to answer all of your questions. I invite you to consider this an important part of a quality experience.
The Cost for Bladeless LASIK
There are two ways to create your LASIK flap, the razor, or the laser. Discount centers use the razor. It costs less to use so it lowers the cost of LASIK to a discount price. The razor uses an oscillating razor blade on a gear track that rolls across your cornea to cut your flap. The machine that holds the razor is called a microkeratome.
Originally all LASIK flaps where made with the microkeratome. The first microkeratome I used was called the ACS sharpener. Later we purchased a hansatome which is still used by most discounters even today. Finally, we purchased an Amadeus microkeratome which had certain safety and quality advantages over the hasatome. Our Amadeus now sits in a metal case I call “the museum.”
One of the great advances in LASIK came when engineers developed a femtosecond laser to create the flap rather than the razor. This made it possible to have LASIK without the blade. The bladeless flaps have a number of distinct advantages over the razor.
The flap thicknesses are more reliable. This allows your surgeon to use a thinner flap, which leaves your cornea stronger. The edge of the flaps made with a microkeratome are taper down to a point. This makes them vulernable to trauma. The bladeless laser flaps have a tongue and grove pattern to their edge that makes it less vulnerable to trauma.
The microkeratome flaps are thicker in the periphery and thinner in the center. It is believed that this would weaken the cornea where some patients are more vulnerable ectasia (progressive weakening). The bladeless laser flaps are the same thickness all the way across.
I stopped using the microkeratome when we purchased the Intralase 60 hz laser. As the technology improved we replaced that laser with the Intralase IFS. This laser allows me to use smaller energies to achieve a smoother bed to the flap. This contributes to better optical quality for your surgery outcomes. In addition, this later generation laser is the one that provides the tongue and groove stronger edges I mentioned earlier.
When you visit a laser center to inquire about your eyes, it is important that you find out if they will be using the laser or the razor. Probably you will have decided that you want a laser made, bladeless flap for your LASIK rather than the razor.
The bottom line is that the laser cost more to use so it adds some to eye surgery expenses in Loveland and Fort Collins Colorado. I feel it adds even more value than it adds cost and it is a good investment in your future.
LASIK Costs for Higher Quality Lasers in Fort Collins Colorado
The excimer laser used to treat your eyes affects costs. Most discount LASIK centers in Fort Collins Colorado use the NIDEK laser. It costs less to use than the VISX or the Allegretto. The VISX and the Allegretto lasers have a royalty fee that your surgeon has to pay every time he/she uses the laser. This adds to LASIK expenses in Fort Collins Colorado. Even though they cost more to use, the results have been so impressive, that most surgeons prefer these lasers.
The VISX machine has two different modes, traditional, or custom. The custom costs more to use but delivers a much better quality treatment pattern. Some offices choose to use the traditional mode to cut LASIK costs, but at the expense of quality.
We have both a VISX star 4 and an Allegretto 400 hz laser at our center. I prefer the Allegretto for LASIK and the VISX for PRK. This allows me to use the laser platform that will be best for each individual patient.
When I combine the quality and safety of the Intralase IFS to make your flap and precision of the Allegretto 400, the quality is spectacular.
LASIK Costs with Bait and Switch
Unfortunately, I have to go there. Most eye centers have one price for LASIK. Others, usually the discounters, choose to offer a very low “teaser” cost of LASIK to get you in the door. Once they have you there they reveal the fine print that the low price is only for those will low nearsightedness and no astigmatism, meaning not you. The actual price for you is usually much higher.
This approach strikes me as the wrong way to start a good doctor patient relationship and seems to fail the proverbial sniff test, but that will be a decision you will have to make.
I know a doctor that previously ran a chain that openly practiced this approach and he confided in me the actual average price that most paid in such centers. It was surprising that most were paying close to the quality price without receiving all that the quality-oriented centers provide. Alas!
Some of these locations are willing to increase the price even further by adding on some of the quality amenities. Using the ideal technology for your particular eye does add some to LASIK prices, but if the LASIK is priced fairly, you are receiving a great value for what you receive.
The Cost of LASIK for the Art and Care
If you believe that LASIK is a commodity where all laser eye surgery and eye surgeons are the same and the only difference is price then you will probably choose a discounter. They are there for those that feel that way. The surgeons have done tens of thousands of cases in an assembly line fashion with the razor, but not so many of the bladeless, high quality approach that you will probably desire.
If you feel like me, that LASIK is a art where individual attention and skill matter, where technology is evolving and LASIK is improving over time, then you will want to choose the LASIK eye center in your area which demonstrates the highest commitment to quality.
The Bottom Line Cost of LASIK
I recommend you focus getting a good value rather than just the money cost of LASIK. Consider the quality you desire and then find that quality at a fair price.
At the Eye Laser Center of Northern Colorado, we are striving to be the best laser center in America. If you visit with us in Fort Collins Colorado, I believe you will sense this commitment to quality in the preoperative evaluations, the best of class equipment, the caring and experienced surgeons, amazing staff, and the individual and kind way you are treated.
The cost of LASIK in Loveland and Fort Collins Colorado needs to be at a fair price, but even more important, at a good value. If we can help you, please schedule a time at our center to see the difference that quality and individual care could make for you.