How to Finance Plastic Surgery

Plastic Surgeries done in USA, 2015 (Source).

We all want to look our best. And a little help from plastic surgery can go a long way in boosting your confidence and self-esteem. But cosmetic surgery is expensive, and your insurance won’t cover an elective procedure. So how can you finance your plastic surgery?

Here is what you need to know about how to pay for plastic surgery, even with bad credit.

How much does plastic surgery cost?

Cosmetic surgery gets more popular every year. In 2018, more than 17.7 million procedures were done in the U.S. alone. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that Americans spent more than $16 billion on cosmetic operations in 2018. These are the average prices for the most popular surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures:

Average Cost of Top 5 surgical cosmetic procedures in 2018
  • Breast Augmentation – $3,515
  • Liposuction – $3,279
  • Nose Reshaping – $5,146
  • Tummy Tuck – $6,083
  • Buttock Augmentation – $4,708
Average Cost of Top 5 non-surgical procedures
  • Botulinum Toxin (includes Botox, Dysport, Xeomin) – $420
  • Hyaluronic Acid (Juvederm Ultra, Voluma, Perlane) – $651
  • Hair Removal (laser or pulsed light) – $457
  • Chemical Peel – $545
  • Microdermabrasion – $149

Source: American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

While the non-surgical options may seem affordable, these cost estimates can be deceptive. That’s because many of these procedures require multiple sessions to achieve results.

Does insurance ever cover plastic surgery?

Not all plastic surgery requires out-of-pocket payment. If a cosmetic procedure is medically justified, your insurance may cover it. But generally speaking, if you’re undergoing a surgery or procedure for the sole purpose of improving your appearance or self-esteem, insurance won’t cover it.

However, surgery related to other health conditions and procedures that improve physical function may be covered. Some patients with breathing issues can get health insurance to pay for nose surgery. And patients who suffer back pain as a result of their breast size may get their insurance to sign off on a breast reduction procedure. Before you pay out of pocket, check with your health insurance company to find out if they’ll cover your procedure. There’s no harm in trying!

How can you finance plastic surgery?

If your surgery is elective, you’ll have to pay for it out-of-pocket. And because plastic surgery is expensive, you’ll want to keep financing costs to a minimum. Fortunately, you have several options.

1. Use a credit card

Depending on your credit score, a new or existing credit card could be your best financing option. Many cards offer a 0% introductory annual percentage rate (APR), as well as valuable rewards points that you can use for vacations or cashback.

If you don’t know your credit score, that should be your first step. You can check it for free here. If you can qualify for a 0% APR balance transfer card, financing with a credit card is your best bet. Just make sure that you’re able to pay it off during the introductory period. After the grace period ends, your APR will skyrocket.

Looking for a credit card with a 0% APR introductory period? The Citi Simplicity credit card has no annual fee and offers an introductory 0% APR for the first 18 months. If you pay off your balance within that time, you won’t have to pay any interest.

2. Use a medical credit card

Medical credit cards are another great option for financing your plastic surgery.

Many medical credit cards offer an introductory 0% APR that lasts six to twelve months. However, if your balance isn’t paid in full during that period, some cards apply interest retroactively. Be sure to read the fine print and, if in doubt, pay your debt within the introductory period.

Care Credit is a popular medical credit card that accepts applicants with less-than-stellar credit. However, they do apply retroactive interest. If you go this route, just be sure to pay off your debt within the grace period.

3. Get a personal loan

A personal loan is another great option. You can take out a loan from your local bank or credit union, or explore the online marketplace to find competitive rates among online lenders.

Personal loans typically have fixed interest rates which vary depending on your credit score. This means that your interest rate won’t fluctuate throughout the life of your loan, making it a reliable option.

One of the major benefits of personal loans is that they allow you to chip away at your medical debt in a series of regular payments. However, you’ll only qualify for attractive rates and terms if you have good credit. If you have bad credit, the money you pay in interest and fees could significantly increase your overall medical expenses.

Looking for a personal loan for an elective procedure? Consider LightStream, an online lender that offers competitive interest rates and few additional fees.

Or shop around with other personal lenders:

4. Borrow from your 401(k)

It’s not usually a good idea to withdraw money from your 401(k) early. If you do, you have to pay a 10% penalty, and the IRS considers your withdrawal to be taxable income. However, qualifying hardships (including some medical expenses) give you early access to your 401(k). For example, if you are getting cosmetic surgery to correct a disfigurement due to disease, an accident, or a genetic abnormality, you may be able to tap into your 401(k) without a penalty.

But this option comes with risks. If you’re unable to repay the money you borrowed, it is still treated as an early withdrawal. As a result, you’d still have to pay tax on it, as well as the 10% penalty.

5. Take out a home equity loan

If you own your home and have accumulated equity, you can take out a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit (HELOC). Because these loans are secured by the equity in your home, they offer lower interest rates than you could find with a personal loan. However, this option comes with risk. Because home equity loans and HELOCs use your home as collateral, you risk losing your home if you fail to pay your debt on time.

Compare HELOCs to find the right option:

Can you finance plastic surgery with bad credit?

Even if you have bad credit, there is still hope. Some doctors will work with you to set up a payment plan that’s within your budget. You should ask about this before exploring other options.

However, most medical professionals require payment up front. As such, you’ll likely need to find a credit card or personal loan that meets your needs.

If your credit score is 580 or higher, you can apply for a personal loan through Avant. If approved, you’ll receive funds within just a few business days. There is a loan origination fee, but no prepayment fee.

If your credit score is over 640 and you want to apply for a credit card, check out the Chase Freedom Unlimited SM. This cashback rewards card offers a 0% APR for the first 15 months. After the introductory period, the APR will increase to the standard rate which varies depending on your credit. There is no annual fee with the card, but there is a 3% balance transfer fee.

And even if you think you won’t qualify for a personal loan, you might be surprised. The online lending marketplace has grown exponentially in the past decade, and lenders’ requirements are more lenient than ever before. To find out what you qualify for, check out SuperMoney’s personal loan engine. Just answer a few questions and in minutes, you’ll receive offers from online lenders. And fortunately, prequalifying for loans won’t hurt your credit score.

Getting started

Looking to finance elective plastic surgery? You’ve got options.

First, ask your doctor if they’re willing to set up a payment plan. If they need payment up front, compare personal loans and check out credit card offerings. If you have your own home, consider a HELOC or a home equity loan. Compare the rates and terms of each potential financing method to find the right one for your situation.