Plastic Surgery Loans: Should You Use a Personal Loan to Pay for Cosmetic Surgery?

Plastic surgery, like many medical procedures performed today, isn’t cheap. In fact, many plastic surgery procedures cost thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, most people don’t have thousands of dollars in the bank to spend on a procedure, so some people turn to loans to pay for plastic surgery. Consider these things before deciding whether taking out a loan to pay for a plastic surgery procedure is a smart move.

Should You Use a Loan to Pay for Plastic Surgery?

Before taking out a loan, review your health insurance because some policies cover certain procedures. For example, your health insurance may cover a large portion of the bill if you're having reconstructive plastic surgery to correct trauma or a developmental defect. If that’s the case, you may only need a small loan to cover the difference between the procedure’s cost and what insurance pays. On the other hand, you may need a much larger loan if you plan on undergoing a plastic surgery procedure for purely cosmetic reasons.

In most cases, people looking to get cosmetic plastic surgery should do their best to avoid taking out a loan to pay for the procedure. This includes procedures like breast augmentations, face lifts, cosmetic rhinoplasty, and mommy makeovers. Cosmetic plastic surgery is considered elective, so you can save in advance for a procedure and avoid the loan. On the other hand, if plastic surgery is necessary to help a person live a more normal life by fixing a defect or correcting trauma, using a loan may be worth the interest costs you’ll incur over the life of the loan. This includes procedures like breast reconstruction, cleft lip or cleft palate surgery, hand surgery, and skin cancer removal.

In some cases, it may make sense to take out a loan if the benefits of the surgery will end up saving you money in the future. However, you have to have a very strong case that shows the future savings would outweigh the interest you’ll pay in addition to the cost of the surgery before making the argument to take out a loan for cosmetic surgery. For instance, some may argue the cost of LASIK eye surgery could be offset by eliminating the cost of contacts or glasses. Run the numbers for your specific situation to see if it's worthwhile.

Where to Get Plastic Surgery Loans

One of the most common ways to pay for plastic surgery is to take out an installment loan. Typically, you’ll find unsecured personal loans are widely available and can be used to pay for a plastic surgery procedure. These loans can be found at local banks and credit unions as well as online and peer-to-peer lenders. Loans generally have terms of one to seven years and have interest rates that reach as high as 36%—although someone with excellent credit can expect to find a personal loan with a rate between 10.3% and 12.5%.

Another less common option for a plastic surgery loan is a specific medical procedure loan. These loans are essentially personal loans except that you can only use the money from the loan to pay for a medical procedure rather than anything you desire like with a regular personal loan. Rates on these loans are about the same as a typical personal loan.

For instance, LightStream currently offers some medical personal loans with rates lower than personal loans for consolidating credit card debt, but only for loans with particular terms and loan amounts. On the other hand, Upstart offers medical personal loans but its rates are the same as regular personal loans. Upstart determines individual rates based on education, credentials, work experience and credit history, but not the use of the loan.

Alternative Financing Options for Cosmetic Surgery

As with any financial situation, you should always explore your options to make sure you’re picking the most financially advantageous option possible. There are plenty of ways to pay for plastic surgery other than using a personal loan.

Save and pay cash: Save a certain amount from each paycheck for the procedure you earn until you have enough money in a savings account to pay in full. You may have to wait a couple years to get the procedure done, but saving will give you plenty of time to make sure you’re making the right decision about the procedure. You may even be able to get a cash discount.

Payment plans through the provider: Many providers offer financing for their procedures through a payment plan. While providers may manage the payment plans in-house, many providers work with financing companies to offer these payment plans. Some payment plans do not charge interest, but it depends on the plan. Additionally, payments on these plans may be reported to the credit bureaus.

Medical credit cards: This option offers a short period with no interest, anywhere from six months to two years. Unfortunately, many of these offers will end up charging you retroactive interest from the beginning of the loan if you don’t pay off the balance in full before the promotional 0% APR offer ends. Instead of choosing a medical credit card, consider choosing a regular credit card with a promotional 0% APR on purchases—it may offer better terms.

Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA): Generally speaking, most HSAs and FSAs will only cover medically necessary procedures. So while you probably won’t be able to use your HSA to finance breast augmentation, it may be an option if you’re getting reconstructive plastic surgery. Check with your provider to see what’s covered. Even if the procedure itself isn’t covered, your HSA or FSA may cover prescriptions related to the procedure, such as pain medications or antibiotics.

Home equity line of credit: Secured debt often offers lower interest rates than unsecured debt. For that reason, many people turn to the equity in their home whenever they need money for an expensive purchase. While a lower interest rate could technically save you money, the repayment periods on many home equity lines of credit could actually result in paying more interest over the life of the loan. Additionally, the lender could foreclose on your house if you default, which makes this option risky.

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