The Truth Behind The LASIK “Lifetime Guarantee”
While a “lifetime guarantee” for LASIK certainly sounds attractive, the truth behind LASIK is LASIK is a surgical procedure and NO surgical procedure can be guaranteed. The main problems associated with a ‘lifetime guarantee” are:
- It’s good for the lifetime of the center, not of the patient
- There are numerous restrictions and exclusions to the lifetime guarantee that are not disclosed to the patient
- High prescriptions are normally excluded from the lifetime guarantee
If you are researching LASIK eye surgery, you may be attracted to a LASIK center offering a “lifetime guarantee”. You may think, “Great, this place is going to take care of my vision for the rest of my life! If my eyes ever change, I can get another procedure for FREE!” You may even go to that center for a LASIK evaluation, and be told “we will take care of your eyes forever, that’s the great thing about having LASIK here.” But, let the buyer beware!
The good news about the LASIK “lifetime guarantee” is that it is a great marketing gimmick for the LASIK center. It sounds good, and it is comforting to think that if you ever need to have LASIK done again, you won’t have to pay for it.
The bad news about the LASIK “lifetime guarantee” is that it isn’t a guarantee at all. There are numerous restrictions and exclusions that come with the guarantee, MOST OF WHICH ARE NOT CLEARLY DISCLOSED TO THE PATIENT. If you ask to see the “fine print”, you will see the “lifetime guarantee” contains DOZENS OF EXCLUSIONS (A COPY OF THE EXCLUSIONS FROM ONE CENTER IS ENCLOSED). And keep in mind, no surgeon should offer any kind of guarantee with ANY surgical procedure – this just isn’t something that is done in the medical field! It should be a RED FLAG for any doctor offering a “lifetime guarantee”.
First and foremost, the “lifetime guarantee” isn’t good for the lifetime of the patient. It’s only good for the lifetime of the center. Many LASIK centers offering a “lifetime guarantee” go out of business after several years, leaving the patient with high and dry.
Secondly, many centers offering “lifetime guarantees” have many exclusions that aren’t explained to the patients. For example, if you have a high degree of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, you are often excluded from the “lifetime guarantee”. Even if you fall into their parameters, your post-operative vision has to be 20/40 or worse to qualify for a free enhancement (whereas the industry standard is to do an enhancement if the patient is seeing 20/25 or 20/30, and the patient feels their vision needs to be further improved.)
Yet another truth behind LASIK, in the “lifetime guarantee” is that you are required to go back to the center or one of their affiliated doctors for a charged exam (meaning you pay for it) every year. These exams typically cost between $100-150 a year and if you miss even one annual exam, your “lifetime guarantee” becomes null and void. And by the way, you need to keep documented receipts of these exams as proof that you actually had the exam every year.
The bottom line? The “lifetime guarantee” typically isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. Many patients who had their initial procedure with a center offering a “lifetime guarantee” end up going to another surgeon for their enhancement and pay full price for this second procedure. The best assurance for those of you looking for a “lifetime guarantee” is to choose a LASIK specialist who’s practice is limited to LASIK only, who has a proven track record, who has personally performed tens of thousands of LASIK procedures. FOR THE REAL TRUTH BEHIND LASIK, ASK THE DOCTOR TO SHOW YOU THEIR DOCUMENTED RESULTS SO YOU CAN SEE WHAT PERCENTAGE OF THEIR PATIENTS SEE 20/20 OR BETTER.