Plastic surgery financing: Worth it for a lift?

Woman talking with doctor about plastic surgery financingImage: Woman talking with doctor about plastic surgery financing

In a Nutshell

If you want plastic surgery but aren’t sure how you’ll pay for it, you might be considering financing. But before you go under the knife, be sure you understand what the different financing options may really cost you.
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You can borrow money for many purposes: A mortgage for a home, student loans for college, even a loan to finance your wedding. But what about plastic surgery?

Plastic surgery is expensive, and more people are undergoing cosmetic procedures. In 2019, Americans spent more than $8 billion on surgical and nonsurgical cosmetic procedures, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

And with many procedures, like liposuction, tummy tucks and face-lifts, costing thousands of dollars, it’s not surprising that people are looking for ways to finance plastic surgery.

But what if you need or want a cosmetic procedure and can’t afford to pay cash? If your health insurance doesn’t help cover all or any of the costs, there are a number of options to look into for plastic surgery financing.

You’ll want to consider these carefully, since they can make expensive surgery even more costly. Let’s take a look at some options for plastic surgery financing.

Options for plastic surgery financing

If you don’t have the cash on hand to pay for your plastic surgery, there are a few ways you can try to finance it.

Medical credit card

In addition to traditional credit cards, your surgeon may accept medical credit cards, like CareCredit or Alpheon Credit. As with a traditional card, you would use the medical credit card to pay your bills from cosmetic surgery and then make monthly payments to the credit card company.

Medical credit cards are different from traditional credit cards though, because you can only use them to pay for medical procedures, or other healthcare needs, and only within a specified network of healthcare providers that accept the card.

But like traditional credit cards, medical credit cards can come with high interest rates — though they may include a promotional deferred-interest offer when you first sign up. That means paying no interest on a purchase for a set period of time before the interest kicks in. And if you can pay that balance off before the deferment period is up, you won’t pay any interest on the purchase.

But watch out: Surgery can become even more expensive if you don’t pay off that balance before the deferment period is up. That’s because unless you pay the entire balance for the purchase by that end date, you’ll typically be responsible for paying all the interest that built up from the date you made the purchase (instead of just interest on what’s left of the balance). And that can really add up.

Personal loan

Another option to pay for your cosmetic surgery is a personal loan from a bank, credit union or online lender. Personal loans are available for a variety of purposes, including plastic surgery and other medical expenses, though it depends on the lender.

If you take out a personal loan to finance plastic surgery, you’ll borrow a specific amount of money and make payments in monthly installments over a certain loan term.

Many personal loans are unsecured, meaning there’s no collateral required for the loan. When applying for a loan, a lender will usually review your credit, along with other financial information, as a way to help determine your ability to repay the loan. Take note that a credit review will involve the lender pulling your credit reports, which involves a hard credit inquiry and could negatively affect your credit scores.

Medical loan

You may also be able to apply for a loan with a medical lender that your surgeon works with. These loans are typically personal loans that are used only for medical procedures. And like other personal loans, they can also be unsecured.

When you apply for a medical loan, the lender will review your personal financial details, like your credit history, to help determine whether it’ll approve you for the loan. You may be able to apply online, and in some cases, you can get a lending decision within minutes.

Ask your plastic surgeon if they work with a finance company to provide payment options for their clients.

Can I afford plastic surgery?

Before you apply for plastic surgery financing, it’s important to ask yourself whether you’re able to afford it.

Here are some things you should consider.

Your credit

Your odds of being approved for a medical credit card or a loan — and at a competitive interest rate — could depend on the strength of your credit history. To get an idea of where your credit stands, check your credit reports and scores before you apply for plastic surgery financing. You’ll want to ensure there are no errors on your credit reports, and if there are, you’ll want to dispute them before applying for plastic surgery financing.

You can check your Equifax and TransUnion credit reports for free on Credit Karma.

APRs and fees

When you borrow money, you’ll likely have to pay interest on the amount you’ve been lent. Depending on the terms of your financing, your annual percentage rate, or APR, can add significantly to the overall cost of what you’re financing.

If you’re considering a medical credit card, make sure you know how long any interest-deferment period is and what the APR is once that period is up. Some medical credit cards have APRs nearing 30%, which can add significantly to the total cost.

Learn more: What is a credit card APR?

If you want to apply for a loan, it’s important to know the loan’s APR, as well as any additional fees the lender may charge. Ask about origination fees or prepayment penalties. Along with the interest, these fees can add to the cost of an already expensive procedure.

Your budget

While it may feel like a relief to qualify for a credit card or loan to finance your plastic surgery, you’ll need to figure out if can you afford the monthly repayment. Calculate what your monthly payment will be to ensure it fits into your budget.

For example, the average cost for silicone breast implants is about $4,000. If you use a credit card with a 12-month interest-free offer and want to pay it off before the deferment period is up, you’ll need to make payments of at least $333 each month. If you don’t pay it off before the deferment period ends, you may have to pay interest on the entire $4,000, which makes the breast augmentation more expensive.

So before you take on debt for plastic surgery financing, make sure that you’ll be able to swing the monthly payments.

Bottom line

Remember that financing almost always comes with a cost, and those costs can make an expensive procedure even more expensive. Before you jump into financing your procedure, apply for prequalification when available so that you can better understand what loan options and interest rates might be available to you.

About the author: Erica Gellerman is a personal finance writer with an MBA in marketing and strategy from Duke University. She’s also the founder of The Worth Project: a weekly money newsletter you actual… Read more.