Funding a Fresh Look

By Elana Pruitt © 2006-2009 Editor

There was probably a time when the thought of spending your money on cosmetic surgery seemed a bit silly, and an expense you would rather avoid. But now it seems safe to say that paying to look good is more acceptable and commonplace than ever! So you’re definitely not alone when it comes to finding the best way to pay for a pricey procedure. Among the 11 million patients who received some sort of aesthetic surgical enhancement in 2004, each one had to deal with the matter of cost.

Whichever route you decide to go, you should feel satisfied with your payment plan and understand where additional fees come from. “Before you sign up for cosmetic surgery, you need to be comfortable with all the costs,” notes Beverly Hills cosmetic surgeon Robert Kotler, M.D. in his recent handbook, "The Essential Cosmetic Surgery Companion.” He writes matter-of-factly that there should be “No guesswork, no surprises, no ‘add-ons.’ As you consult and collect fee quotations, be sure you know exactly what services are – and are not – included, and how you pay for these services.”

Where Your Money is Going

Talking to a medical professional about the procedure you’re considering will benefit your experience. Yes, there are additional costs than just the procedure itself. Here is a basic overview of where your money is going

Initial Consultation: Some doctors offer complimentary initial consultation visits, whereas others charge a fee for their time spent with you. Double-check that before you schedule an appointment with a surgeon. According to Dr. Kotler’s handbook, “A 5-Minute Call Can Save You 2 Hours and $200.”

Procedure: Cosmetic surgery is typically not covered by health insurance because it is elective. Yet, some procedures that are usually considered cosmetic, such as rhinoplasty, may also fall into the category of reconstructive surgery. Depending on your condition, you may qualify for coverage.

Hospital fees: The costs that may contribute to your total surgical facility charges include operating room fees, lab fees, medical tests, anesthesia fees, prescriptions, and surgical garments. Some of these areas depend on whether it’s an outpatient or inpatient procedure.

Surgeon’s fee: Besides the sweat, tears, (and joy of course) that may derive from your plastic surgery experience, a doctor also survives his own set of challenges. Therefore factors like time, effort, expertise, and if they are in high demand, will impact the surgeon’s fee.

"Yes, there are additional costs than just the procedure itself"

Location: Is your doctor based out of a major metropolitan city like New York City, Beverly Hills, or Miami? Or a smaller town where plastic surgery is not as common? The geographic location cost may not be something you initially think about when you consider getting a procedure, but it will weigh in on your overall fees.

Post-operative care: Many patients prefer professional, 24-hour care at an aftercare facility following their surgery. Your doctor may even suggest or refer you to a specific spot for a relaxing few days in recovery. This is an additional fee that may be costly; but if you do not have a friend or family member available to take care of your every need after surgery, then this may be an option to look into.

Finding the right plastic surgeon is vital to your understanding of all that plastic surgery entails. Therefore, he or she should be able to provide you with the information you need and address all of your concerns during "the initial consultation.

Taking Care of the Cost

The time is here – you know what you want and you’re practically on the edge of your seat with anticipation. So don’t let stress and anxiety get you down when it comes to paying for the cosmetic surgery procedure you desire. Just work within your means and be honest with yourself about which way you can or cannot afford to go.

For one anonymous 22-year-old patient from Upland, Calif., financing cosmetic surgery was easier than she thought it would be. After deciding that breast augmentation was exactly what she wanted, she began researching her options. As a college student looking for the most affordable route to go, she focused on getting a cosmetic loan after learning that Capital One offered financing perfectly matched to her needs. She said that she applied for it online and was almost instantly approved for a Cosmetic C loan. Paying for half of it upfront, her monthly payments are $130 a month for three years; she preferred to pay a higher amount for a considerably short period of time in order to pay off her surgery faster. “It was nice and convenient because Capital One wrote the check and sent it to the doctor,” she says. “So it was pretty simple!”

"Cosmetic surgery is typically not covered by health insurance because it is elective"

But cosmetic loans may not be for everyone – nor encouraged by many medical professionals. At the office of Dr. James Voloshin of Newport Surgery Institute, the majority of his patients pay for their procedure upfront or through a credit card. Office manager Suzanne Tavenner says that a lot of physicians “aren’t big” on the idea of cosmetic loans, due to additional fees that they have ended up dealing with, such as interest rate charges of about 3 to 15 percent. Similar to saving time and money by learning if a doctor charges for the initial consultation visit beforehand; knowing whether he or she accepts cosmetic loans may benefit your experience as well.

“I try to make sure that patients know what they’re getting into,” she says, adding that it seems like those paying upfront for cosmetic surgery end up being happier in the long run, considering that they are free from monthly payment obligations. Yet these days, the total cost can be overwhelming.

But others may view cosmetic loans as a benefit to the doctor’s practice: “They can actually focus on the patient, instead of getting bogged down with the financial aspect of plastic surgery,” says Pam Girardo, a spokesperson for Capital One.

“Cosmetic loans help consumers get what they need if they can’t afford [to pay] out-of-the-pocket or if a procedure is not covered by insurance,” she says. “It’s basically like a car loan. You pay a monthly amount and agree to terms.”

For the enhancement you want, finding a way to pay for a procedure is just part of the deal. Cost is an essential part of plastic surgery. Therefore you must know where your money is going, and especially how to finance your procedure (getting a loan through your personal bank is also an option).

To help you calculate a budge plan and gather information about cosmetic loans, search through online resources like and for a push in the right direction.