Paying for Plastic Surgery
Payment Methods for Cosmetic Surgery
Having cosmetic surgery is a significant investment, and one that can pay off in dividends both personally and professionally.
It’s estimated that over 15 million people undergo cosmetic procedures annually, spending over $12 billion. And it’s no wonder: when people find a way to restore, refine or enhance their appearance, it enables them to engage life more fully, with renewed confidence and zest.
Far from being a superficial pursuit, it often changes the way people feel about themselves and how they relate to the people around them. But unlike other major financial decisions like financing a vehicle, paying for higher education, or buying a home, paying for plastic surgery isn’t something that people often talk about openly.
In rare situations, like reconstructive surgery after an accident or illness, or for people who require surgery for health-related reasons (e.g. a breast reduction to address back pain), insurance companies will occasionally foot the bill. For everyone else, plastic surgery is considered elective surgery, and is therefore not covered by health insurance.
Here are six payment methods worth exploring:
- Medical credit cards: Medical or health credit cards only cover medical expenses and are often offered as the preferred financing option to cosmetic surgery patients. Since they are limited to medical expenses, they prevent the temptation to overspend on unrelated purchases, like new clothes and cosmetics, using your new line of credit. Many health care credit cards come with attractive zero percent promotions, and some can have reasonable interest rates and payment plans. CareCredit.com is one of the most popular options.
- Gifts: Countless patients receive gift certificates for procedures. Some also set up a special account where friends and family can contribute towards surgery. You can choose to disclose what the funds are for, or be vague (e.g. “It’s my birthday, but instead of gifts I’m saving up to treat myself to something really special”). Many times, a romantic partner or a loved one is happy to contribute towards the procedure that they know will enhance your sense of confidence and well-being. A lot of patients are also able to rally support from family and friends by simply explaining how they expect surgery will change their life both personally and professionally. Some even create elaborate social media campaigns to tell their story and solicit support.
- Home equity loans and lines of credit: For home owners, this is a relatively easy and affordable option. Loans are provided against the equity of your home, and interest is based on current mortgage rates; which, in our current economy are historically low.
- Regular credit cards: Many patients apply for a new low-APR credit card with a zero percent introductory period, and some will even get approved for a card that offers a rewards program or cash back options. This is a great option if you have good credit and you’re committed to making regular monthly payments so that the balance is paid off before, or shortly after, the introductory rate expires. The added bonus is this can help you build your credit and you might even earn enough bonus rewards to treat yourself to a new fashion or beauty products to enhance your post-surgical look.
- Cash savings: An ideal way to pay for surgery is simply to save monthly until you have enough to cover the cost. The biggest challenge with this strategy is how tempting it might be to spend the money on other things. Also, waiting for the surgery and corresponding physical pay-off can be challenging. However, for patients wanting to expedite the savings process, it’s not uncommon to take on a part-time job on nights or weekends; it reduces the time it takes to squirrel money away for surgery without affecting their regular take-home pay or monthly budget. Some even keep the job post-surgery for other discretionary self-care spending.
- Loans from family and friends: Borrowing from friends and family is increasingly common; and oftentimes, people you’re close to will lend you money at low interest or even no interest. Friend and family are usually more flexible with repayment terms and may even consider allowing you to work off the loan some other way. Can you housesit? Babysit? Provide companion care? Barter professional skills? Act as a personal assistant? Ultimately, you might find a win-win scenario in which you’re both better off. The important thing is to put the relationship first, and to put the terms of the loan in writing so that both parties’ interests are secure.
Regardless of how a patient decides to pay for plastic surgery, it’s important that they have fully weighed the value of what they’ll receive against the bottom line cost. If paying with savings is not an option, it goes without saying that it’s prudent to shop around for the best financing terms.
That said, shopping around for the “best deal” with regard to surgery is another story all together. When it comes to choosing your surgeon, remember that you’ll get what you pay for. Although even the best surgeons may offer special pricing at certain times of the year, beware of surgical practices that offer too-good-to-be-true deals; or those who claim to “specialize” in every conceivable procedure. The last thing you need is to find yourself budgeting for a second “revision” surgery because you discount-shopped on the first.
Seek out a board-certified surgeon who specializes in performing the specific procedure(s) that you’re interested in. Choose someone who understands your goals and has the proven experience to achieve great results. Educate yourself through credible professional websites like ASPS and ASAPS. Read reviews. Schedule a consultation. Then make an informed decision about how to proceed.