What's the best way to pay for plastic surgery? It depends.
This article is designed to help you choose the best cosmetic surgery loans - or to find alternative ways to pay for cosmetic procedures.
Average U.S. Cost of Cosmetic Procedures
How much do cosmetic procedures cost in the U.S.? It depends on your location.
Real estate and labor charges affect the doctors' cost of doing business, while the amount of competition impacts what doctors can charge. So fees are highly regional.
That said, the average cost nationwide can give you a baseline.
If you live in a high-cost area, expect to pay more. If labor costs and rents are lower, you may be able to pay less. Understand that medical insurance does not cover most cosmetic procedures.
Here is a list of popular procedures and their average cost, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS):
- Breast augmentation: $3,719
- Liposuction: $3,200
- Nose reshaping: $5,046
- Tummy tuck: $5,798
- Buttock augmentation: $4,356
- Botox®: $385
- Hyaluronic acid fillers: $644
- Chemical peel (1.3 million procedures): $673
- Microdermabrasion (775,014 procedures): $138
- Laser treatments (Intense Pulsed Light): $433
Note that these charges don't include anesthesia, operating room facilities or other related expenses.
Popular Ways to Pay for Plastic Surgery
Cosmetic surgery is big business in the U.S., and most procedures aren't cheap. You could put off your procedure and save up for it. But that isn't always feasible or even desirable. If you want to put your best face forward at your 20th high school reunion, putting off your surgery may mean waiting for your 25th.
There may be other considerations - often, procedures have higher success rates or better results if you're younger when you undertake them.
You may have several options when paying for plastic surgery:
- Credit cards
- 401(k) loans
- Plastic surgery loans from your doctor
- Personal loans
- Home equity
Each of these alternatives has its pros and cons.
Personal Loan for Cosmetic Surgery: Save $1,000 or More
There are ways to spend less on plastic surgery. You can shop for a lower-cost provider. Just make sure, says the ASPS, that your doctor is board-certified. There is no law against "regular" doctors or surgeons performing cosmetic procedures. And then make sure the board-certified practitioner has a good reputation.
How will you know? Check sites like RealSelf.com. They publish doctor reviews and ratings. You can access these for free (you have to register) and you can also compare the cost among other local providers.
Communicate with the doctor before committing. Ask if you can have a local anesthetic, for instance, instead of more costly general anesthesia. Some surgeons may be willing to perform less-invasive procedures with topical anesthesia.
How to save on plastic surgery
One of the easiest ways to pay less for plastic surgery is to finance it as cheaply as you can. The table below depicts several different ways of financing a $10,000 surgery with a monthly payment of $500. The personal loan for cosmetic surgery is often the best and cheapest method of financing your procedure.
Note that there is also a lower minimum payment for each financing option. The lower payment is easier to make each month, but it extends your repayment and increases your cost. That may be a factor if the monthly payment is your primary consideration.
To keep interest costs down, of course, pay off your loan as soon as possible.
The option that works best for you might be the one with the lowest cost overall. But it could be the one with the lowest monthly payment or the one that doesn't require home equity or qualifying for a new loan. Every solution is individual.
Non-surgical enhancements usually cost less. Another advantage is that there is little or no down-time involved. However, most non-surgical options lose their effect after six months to two years. That is perfectly okay as long as you are aware. It would be a mistake, however, to finance a short-term improvement over a period that exceeds the benefit of the procedure. You don't want to be still paying for yesterday's Botox when you need another round.
Most personal finance experts don't believe that you should finance short-term items with long-term loans. If your facial filler only lasts six months, make sure you'll pay it off within that time period. Or, put off your next round of injections until you zero out your debt so it doesn't pile up.
Plastic Surgery Financing: Personal Loans vs. Credit Cards
Personal loans and credit cards have several features in common. They are both unsecured loans and both deliver money quickly - in hours or days.
So what advantage does a personal loan have over a credit card?
Personal loan rates are lower
The biggest advantage of personal loans may be that the cost is potentially lower. Whatever your personal loan interest rate, it's probably going to be less than that of a credit card. As of this writing, the average personal loan interest rate is just under 11%, while the average credit card rate is about 17%. That is because credit cards, with their open-ended terms, are riskier to their issuers. Personal loans, on the other hand, come with terms of one to five years and their rates are usually fixed. They are safer for lenders and borrowers alike.
Personal loan interest rates today range between 6% and 36% for mainstream products. The interest rate you're offered depends on your credit rating, loan amount and term.
Personal loans don't affect your FICO score
Another advantage of personal loans for cosmetic surgery is that they don't affect your FICO score like increasing your credit card balances does. It may even make sense to take a larger personal loan and use it to clear your credit card balances as well as improve your appearance.
When are credit cards better than personal loans for cosmetic surgery?
A credit card could be a better choice if you can get an introductory period with zero percent and pay off your balance during that time - or if your credit rating has dropped and your personal loan cost would be higher than that of a credit card.
What about rewards cards?
They usually have higher interest rates. But you might be able to acquire rewards (check your card agreement - not all spending qualifies for goodies) by using the card for your procedure and paying it off right away with a personal loan.
Loans From Your Doctor
Some doctors offer plastic surgery loans or payment plans for cosmetic procedures. They can range from interest-free to very expensive. Don't just accept your doctor's offer without getting some quotes from other sources. That way, you can know that you are minimizing the cost of what may be an expensive undertaking.
If your doctor offers you a payment plan with zero interest, ask what your procedure would cost without the payment plan. The difference between the two would be the true cost of the "free" financing. Nothing wrong with there being a cost, as long as you know what it is and are okay with the figure. You might get better or cheaper terms by financing elsewhere.
Medical Credit Cards
If a traditional credit card and a personal loan had a baby, it might be a medical credit card. Like credit cards and personal loans, medical credit cards are unsecured. Like personal loans, they have preset terms up to 60 months.
Some medical credit cards allow you to reuse them for additional procedures once you repay the loan for the first one.
Medical credit cards may have another attractive feature: a low- to no-interest introductory period. However, be careful. One national lender offers an interest-free period that assesses no interest charge - but only if you repay the entire balance before the promotional period ends. If you fail to repay your entire bill before that period expires, the lender retroactively charges your account 27% interest on the original balance from Day One. Be extremely careful when choosing that sort of financing.
Home Equity Loans for Cosmetic Procedures
Home equity loans are mortgages backed by your residence. Because that limits the lender's risk, home equity loan interest rates are significantly lower than those of unsecured loans. If you already have a home equity line of credit (HELOC) in place, and there's available credit to cover your procedure, the HELOC is likely the optimal choice.
However, setting up a home equity loan just for your procedure could add a lot more to your costs than you'd save with a lower interest rate. And if you find yourself unable to make the payments, you are putting your home at risk for foreclosure. In general, home equity financing is best for larger amounts.
401(k) Loans for Plastic Surgery
Borrowing against your 401(k) has some advantages and also some serious drawbacks. The biggest plus by far is that you're borrowing from yourself, so the interest rate is less important. And your credit rating doesn't matter.
But you can't contribute to your retirement account as long as you owe a balance against it and, if you take years to repay your loan, your tax-deferred retirement savings could take a major hit.
Even worse, if you lose your job for any reason, the unpaid loan balance becomes taxable at your ordinary tax rate. And unless you're old enough to withdraw your funds without penalty, the government adds 10% of that unpaid balance to your tax bill. So if you have a $10,000 balance and a 25% tax bracket, it could cost you $3,500 in taxes if you can't repay your balance in time.
There are many ways to pay for plastic surgery, and a personal loan is not the only option. But, after checking your alternatives, it may well be your best option.