Whether it’s being performed for medical or for cosmetic reasons, plastic surgery can do incredible things, from eliminating physical discomfort to helping increase self-confidence and positive body image. Just one problem—it can also be very expensive, and your medical insurance often won’t cover it. Years ago, the cost of plastic surgery was enough to make it prohibitive to virtually all but those who could afford it out of pocket. Now, however there are many financing options available to those who wish to pursue tummy tucks, face lifts, liposuction, and various other procedures; where they were once the privilege of only the very wealthy, today they are accessible even to those that used to think of them as being far beyond their financial reach.
When it comes to financing, there are two main options: arranging an installment plan directly with your surgeon’s practice, or applying for credit from a private finance company, like CareCredit or SurgeryLoans.com.
CareCredit functions like a credit card, with a couple of important differences: 1) It can only be used to pay for healthcare services (including cosmetic procedures), and 2) CareCredit offers 6, 12, 18, and 24-month plans that do not charge any interest if the minimum monthly payments are met and the balance is paid in full by the end of a predetermined time period. This makes it possible to break your payments into manageable, interest-free monthly sums, and to avoid the interest rates you would be subjected to if you were using a regular credit card. Not all plastic surgeons partner with CareCredit, but many do—they have 125,000 participating healthcare practices nationwide.
SurgeryLoans.com is geared specifically toward people who need help financing a cosmetic or other elective surgery. They offer loans ranging from $1,000 to $25,000 with a varying APR on plans of up to 60 months, and have both installment plans and revolving payment plans available.
Keep in mind that not all cosmetic procedures require financing, even if you can’t afford them on your own; some may be covered under your health insurance plan, especially if they also address health issues or are reconstructive, as after an injury or due to a physical deformity.
Even if your health insurance doesn’t cover your procedure, you may be able to minimize the cost of your surgery. One way to potentially save a significant amount on your procedure (depending on the practice) is to be flexible with when you have it done. Many doctors have an “on-call” list—essentially the equivalent of a standby ticket at an airport, this means that if someone cancels their procedure last-minute, you’re next in line to take their place. Doctors would rather offer a deal than leave their operating rooms empty, so if you can keep your schedule open enough to accommodate a spur-of-the-moment procedure, you will benefit from the accompanying price reduction.
While it is understandable to want to save as much money as possible on your cosmetic procedure, it is never a good idea to choose a plastic surgeon based on price alone. Often the reason that a surgeon has higher rates is that they are board certified and more experienced, skilled, and likely to give you the results you want at a lower risk of complications. This doesn’t mean it’s necessary to choose the most expensive plastic surgeon available—just that it’s ill-advised to choose the least expensive one. Not only can inexperienced “discount” doctors put you at physical risk, the mistakes they can make may mean you’ll need corrective surgeries in the future; if this is true you’ll wind up spending as much, if not more, than if you had gone to a more qualified doctor to begin with. In the end, you can actually save money by going to a slightly more costly—but more able—plastic surgeon.
Plastic surgery may not be cheap, but for the many people who are dissatisfied or uncomfortable with their body, it is well worth the cost. If you think that a cosmetic procedure will improve your quality of life, don’t let the price be a barrier. Do the research, discuss your options with your surgeon, and design a financial plan that makes sense for you.