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Your choice of words matters when choosing how to finance upcoming cosmetic surgery.

Insurance does not cover any procedure that reshapes healthy tissue to enhance appearance. However, many operations fall into a gray area, which means your out-of-pocket costs could be much lower – if you know the questions to ask.

Then, taking out loans as a first step gives you the flexibility to choose the surgeon with the best skills and training – rather than one who offers “in-house payment plans.”

Finally, possible surgical complications can lead to bad credit that hurt your scores for seven years. Protect yourself with supplemental insurance.

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Cosmetic Surgery Financing

Financing programs can make cosmetic surgery more affordable when health insurance does not cover the process – which is often the case for procedures performed to improve appearance (see below).

When paying 100% out-of-pocket, you have two critical choices to make.

  1. Should I line up financing before choosing a surgeon?
  2. Should I protect my borrowing credentials from complications?


Personal loans are the preferred option to finance many cosmetic surgeries because the lender deposits funds into your checking account. Having a stash of money in your bank allows you the freedom to choose the physician with the right training, education, experience, and demonstrated practice history.

It’s easy to get a personal loan. (Affiliate Link) If approved, you can fund up to $10,000 towards the cost of many of these standard procedures that enhance size, shape, and contour.

Fat ReductionFat Transfer
LiposuctionBrazilian Butt Lift (BBL)
Cool SculptingAir Sculpt
Sono BelloFacial Fat Grafting
KybellaBreast Augmentation
Lipoma RemovalHand Rejuvenation
Face & NeckBody Lifts
Chin ImplantsMommy Makeover
Lip EnhancementTummy Tuck
RhinoplastyDiastasis Recti
DermatologyHair Loss
DermabrasionHair Transplant
Dermal FillersHair Implants
Tattoo RemovalPlatelet-rich plasma (PRP)

Payment Plans

Restricting your choice of cosmetic surgeons to those that offer in-house payment plans emphasizes the wrong criteria. Would you limit your selection of banks to those that perform liposuction, tummy tucks, and Brazilian butt lifts?

Of course, that would be silly.

Nevertheless, many providers partner with outside companies to offer what appear to be in-house payment plans. In reality, the center is outsourcing the function to a third party that provides them with cash upfront.

  • Medical credit cards are revolving contracts with flexible monthly payments
  • Patient financing offers installment contracts with fixed monthly payments

Consider applying for these programs BEFORE selecting your surgery center so as not to limit your choice of provider. Look up Care Credit, United Medical Credit, Prosper Healthcare, Capital One, and others.

Or, just go with a personal loan that has zero affiliation requirements.

Bad Credit

Financing cosmetic surgery when you have a bad credit history will prove challenging regardless of whether you attempt to take out a loan, medical credit card, or monthly payment plan backed by a third-party patient finance company.

People with FICO or Vantage scores below 550 need to bolster their borrowing profile with positive elements or turn to specialty lenders.

  • A low debt-to-income ratio can overcome a derogatory record by showing the ability to afford the projected monthly payment
  • Cosigners agree to take responsibility if you encounter difficulty making monthly payments in the future
  • No credit check lenders use alternative sources of financial data that could include positive information from rental properties and utilities

One final note for all borrowers: financing cosmetic surgery often leads to bad credit history. Complications do happen, and FMLA legal protections are sparse. Both cause many patients to default later on.

Be prepared.


Your primary health insurance is also unlikely to cover any complications associated with cosmetic surgery. Many policies specifically exclude coverage for problems resulting from elective procedures that are not medically necessary.

Get ready to pay out-of-pocket should any of these medical problems arise.[1]

  • Hematoma: a pocket of blood
  • Seroma: a pool of serum under the skin
  • Uncontrolled blood loss
  • Postoperative infections
  • Nerve damage
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Perforation of organs
  • Scarring
  • Problems with anesthesia

Some of these medical complications can be quite severe and beyond the capacity of many people to self-fund. Defaulting on your monthly payments is often inevitable, which hurts your credit score for seven years.

Therefore, consider purchasing supplemental insurance that covers cosmetic surgery side effects. Of course, you need to enroll in the supplemental plan before going under the knife – and pay a single lump-sum premium.


In general, The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) does not cover most cosmetic surgeries unless it requires a hospital stay or issues develop, such as those noted above. The procedures usually do not fit the definition of a severe health condition.[2] Plus, FMLA does not cover half of the population who work for small businesses.

Bad credit in the future is a possible consequence of the lack of FMLA legal protections. The combination of lost income and extra expenses can also lead to default.

  1. You might lose your job while absent from work during your recovery phase
  2. Health insurance premiums increase when employer contributions stop

Insurance That Covers Cosmetic Surgery

It is unlikely that you will find any public or private health insurance that will cover cosmetic surgery that is not medically necessary. Procedures that enhance appearance by improving aesthetic appeal, symmetry, and proportion through the reshaping of healthy tissue are not treating an injury, disease, or symptoms.

However, do not confuse these distinctions with plastic surgery, which reconstructs facial and body defects due to birth disorders, trauma, burns, and disease.[3] Health insurance frequently pays for these procedures.

Covered Procedures

Many “cosmetic surgeries” fall into a gray area where health insurance might cover the procedure if convinced of the need. Work with the practice manager to develop a letter of medical necessity for any of these borderline procedures.

  • Body contouring after significant weight loss could alleviate necrotizing flesh
    • Tummy tuck
    • Breast lift
    • Lower body lift
    • Skin removal
  • Defects present at birth are not healthy tissue
  • Abnormalities can cause pain, infection, or difficulty breathing
  • Procedures related to cancer prevention or reconstruction
    • Precancerous and malignant moles & cysts
    • Dermabrasion after MOHS
    • Breast reconstruction


Cosmetic surgery expenses are not tax-deductible for the same reason that your health insurance will not cover the procedure: because it is not medically necessary. IRS rules limit deductions for “the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or payments for treatments affecting any structure or function of the body.”[4]

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) are also off the table because your expenses are not tax-deductible.  Therefore, you cannot use your FSA as an interest-free loan from your employer. The FSA claims administrator will probably reject your submission.

[1] Healthline: Elective Surgery Complications

[2] US Department of Labor FMLA


[4] IRS Tax Topic 502