- Sono Bello is a group of cosmetic procedure franchises with over 40 locations in the United States.
- Two laser-based procedures are mainly performed: TriSculpt body contouring and Lift facial rejuvenation.
- While Sono Bello’s aggressive sales tactics have drawn criticism, their competitive pricing appeals to a broad base of patients.
Shopping around for plastic surgery clinics? During your research, you’re likely to come across two types of service providers: privately-run practices and “chain” clinics.
Sono Bello is the largest cosmetic surgery group practice in the United States. Think of it as the Aspen Dental of the cosmetic surgery world. Though Sono Bello brands itself as the “No. 1 cosmetic surgery specialist,” there are some downsides to going this route for your next procedure.
Here’s what you need to know about Sono Bello’s treatments and online reviews.
So what is Sono Bello, exactly?
Founded in 2008 by emergency medicine physician Dr. Tom Garrison, Sono Bello is fast gaining steam in the cosmetic procedure industry. With over 40 franchises across the United States, the company currently employs over 100 board-certified plastic surgeons and facial plastic surgeons.
Dr. Garrison has also backed and founded various other medicine-related ventures, including a biotech company and a health and wellness app.
In short, Sono Bello isn’t a specific procedure or technology — it’s the name of a company that offers laser-assisted body contouring and various non-invasive cosmetic treatments.
What procedures does Sono Bello perform?
Sono Bello’s cosmetic procedures are designed to help patients address common problem areas on the face and body, without going under the knife. These procedures include laser-assisted liposuction and facial rejuvenation treatments.
Some of the treatments that Sono Bello offers are also available in non-affiliated clinics (Venus Freeze for cellulite and fat reduction, namely), but the company is mainly known for its two trademarked, exclusive body contouring and facial rejuvenation procedures — TriSculpt and Lift.
TriSculpt Micro Laser Lipo uses one or both of the following two methods:
- Power-assisted liposuction — Micro cannulas and suctioning devices are used to remove fat from larger areas.
- Micro-laser assisted liposuction — Generally used on smaller areas, like the upper arms and chin, while tightening the skin by stimulating collagen production.
The combination of these two methods is said to reduce pain and swelling, without the risks and recovery time associated with general anesthesia. According to Sono Bello, patients are completely healed within days.
Much like TriSculpt, Lift, Sono Bello’s facial rejuvenation procedure, is performed under local anesthesia using micro-lasers. This minimally invasive approach promises to address common signs of aging in the brows, neck area, jawline, and around the eyes.
Sono Bello’s website doesn’t offer any clinical studies or peer-reviewed research to substantiate their claims. However, laser liposuction and laser skin treatments are two widely adopted approaches that are marketed by numerous companies under different names.
Surgeons’ reviews: What do the experts think of Sono Bello?
Sono Bello’s success has earned the company criticism from many surgeons, who find fault with its aggressive marketing and potentially misleading, high pressure sales tactics. Some also question the effectiveness of Sono Bello’s treatments.
Studies indicate that lasers are in fact effective, and do provide benefits in terms of body contouring and skin tightening. However, as plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Frederick of Palm Beach Gardens, FL warns, “there has never been a good study proving that the laser tightens the skin more than any other method of liposuction.”
According to San Diego-based cosmetic surgeon Dr. Reza Tirgari, there’s also a good chance that you’ll receive less personalized service from a Sono Bello franchise. “Local places, unlike chains, will pay much more attention to detail and individual client needs. Local practices also tend to be more personal and give better customer service,” Dr. Tirgari says.
Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Leslie Stevens is of the same opinion.
“A board-certified plastic surgeon with a private practice has a name and reputation in the community,” says Dr. Stevens. “Traditionally, patients would be referred to this doctor based on a friend’s positive experience with the practice, staff and surgeon.”
This important connection between the surgeon and the patients is what’s lacking from Sono Bello’s approach, according to Dr. Stevens. “Patients don’t go there to see a specific doctor — it’s a business that markets for a group of surgeons.”
“I paid thousands for nothing”: Is Sono Bello worth it?
Sono Bello touts a “100 percent customizable” approach, and promises every patient one-on-one time with a surgeon to develop a personalized care plan. With that being said, many patients’ negative reviews of Sono Bello report that their initial contact was in fact with a salesperson, not an actual physician.
Other reviews are even less encouraging, with some patients claiming they paid large sums of money without ever seeing any benefits.
One of the things that makes Sono Bello desirable to first-time plastic surgery patients is that the procedures are marketed in an enticing, cut-rate manner. For instance, the company often runs specials for $500 off a procedure, and lures in impulse buyers with “pay later” financing plans.
If you’re set on trying out one of Sono Bello’s signature procedures, TriSculpt starts at $1,395 per treated area, while the cost of Sono Bello’s Lift begins at $2,995. As these are proprietary procedures, you’ll only be able to get them done at a Sono Bello clinic. And frankly, there’s nothing wrong with that — they’re the experts in those particular treatments, after all. That said, the best course of action is to always speak with several surgeons before choosing a specific procedure or practice.
The experts that we spoke with all agree that choosing a plastic surgeon you can trust requires some research, and that it’s something you should take seriously to ensure that you’re in the best of hands.
Choosing the right plastic surgery clinic
The first step to any cosmetic surgery research is to gather information about all the best board-certified plastic surgeons in your area. You can use the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery’s Plastic Surgeon Checklist to help you properly vet your surgeon during your free consultation. This checklist ensures that you don’t look over important facets before the day of surgery, such as whether or not your surgeon is board-certified and whether their facility is accredited.
Your safety and comfort are No. 1, but you should also consider other aspects, like the surgeon’s aesthetic vision and whether or not you feel comfortable communicating with him or her.
Be sure that you enter any cosmetic or surgical procedure knowing that you can trust your doctor, and that they are thoroughly and honestly answering any questions you might have.