Financing Cosmetic Surgery-The ABCs to Know Before You Start!

Many patients who are looking into having plastic surgery are also interested in the different ways they can finance the costs of their cosmetic procedures.  Over the last few years, the number of patients who have used some type of patient financing to help cover the expenses of their plastic surgery treatments has increased significantly but with new, tighter lending requirements, many patients are finding themselves frustrated in obtaining financing help.  There are some simple ideas that can make the entire process easier for you if you are considering plastic surgery and are looking into financing part of your surgery costs.

First, do you own financial homework:  Look into your credit record and learn your credit scores from the three credit report agencies.  These can be accessed through the internet and it is usually cheaper to go directly to each agency separately than to use one of the bundling companies that give you all three reports at one time but charge a fee to do so!  Things that may seem trivial to you on your credit report actually can affect your credit rating lessening the chance that you can obtain financing for your cosmetic surgical procedure.   Try to correct any and all errors on your credit report prior to applying for financing.  If there is problem to dispute on one of your credit reports, proceed with disputing the issue prior to seeking financing.  While the problem is in dispute, it will be removed off of your credit report and minimize any effect on your credit score.

Try to pay down or pay off your outstanding credit card balances.  Any unpaid balances can significantly affect your credit scores…so if you can decrease these or preferably eliminate these debts, your credit score will be higher increasing the chance you could obtain the financing you are seeking for your cosmetic surgery.

If you carry high credit limits on your credit cards and are not using this unused credit, ask the credit card company to lower your line of credit to what you really use and need.  The lending agencies look at any unused amount of credit as a potential source of debt and this can increase your credit risk.  Try to look at is this way:  Someone with a 500 point credit rating but with almost no line of credit may be a better credit risk than someone with a higher 600 credit rating who also carries a very large unused line of credit and could potentially quickly “borrow” lots of money increasing their large debt.  To the credit companies, this large unused line of credit represents possible future debt and thus increased credit risk.  Simply put, if you have a large line of credit and you don’t need it, it is probably better to lower your line a credit and decrease your potential credit risk.  This may make your request for financing more comfortable for the lending agency.

Similarly, if you have numerous credit cards that you almost never use-(and who doesn’t)-these are also viewed as a potential source of increase debt and thus increased credit risk.  If you aren’t using or needing these extra credit cards, the best thing to do is cancel them and take this extra unused line of credit off your reports.

Finance only what you are going to need to borrow.  The more you finance or the longer you finance it for increases your credit risk and can impact your ability to obtain the financing you desire for your cosmetic procedure.  It is very tempting to ask for more credit than you will really need but this can actually work against you in obtaining financing.  For example, let’s say that instead of putting $2000 down for a breast augmentation and then financing the rest you decide to finance the entire cosmetic procedure and use the $2000 for a new, big screen TV.  By doing so, you may actually decrease your chances of successfully obtaining financing since you are now asking for more “borrowed” money and thus, you increase your risk to the lender.  Usually the less you borrow, the less credit risk you are to the lender and the more likely you are to be able to obtain the financing you desire.  Similarly, the longer you desire to pay back the amount you borrow, the more credit risk you represent to the lender.  Also, the longer you take to repay your borrowed money, the more you-the borrower-will usually have to pay in finance and interest charges.

Once you have gotten your personal financial house in order, the next step is to determine how much you are going to need to finance which means finding out how much the cosmetic procedure you desire to have is going to cost.  While it is usually impossible to tell a potential patient over the phone exactly what the precise costs of a procedure will be without first seeing and examining the patient, most plastic surgery offices can provide an average costs and the range of costs for a given cosmetic procedure.  This information can also be gathered from a number of resources such at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons-(plasticsurgery.org) or the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery-(surgery.org)-websites.  By knowing what the potential costs for a cosmetic procedure are, you can then calculate the amount that you can pay down and the amount you may will need to finance.  Again, most plastic surgeons will have someone in their offices that can gladly assist you with this process.

While researching potential plastic surgeons for your cosmetic procedure, be sure to ask if they do or do not offer financing.  While many plastic surgeons do offer such services, not all do.  Again, this is a question that most plastic surgery office staff members can easily answer.  Be sure to ask what different types of financing their office offers as many plastic surgeons will often have multiple ways that patient financing can be secured.

Once you have found a plastic surgeon-board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, of course-and you haveperform crossword puzzles-this proven in studies performed at the Einstein Aging Study at Albert Einstein College in New York.  What is interesting in later studies is that there are all types of mental activities that can stimulate similar brain fitness growth including believe it or not, electronic and video games.  This has stimulated a whole area of research looking into at which types of games and programs work in which areas of the brain and how this information can be used to delay and maybe even prevent dementia as we age.  There are even companies that now market numerous computer programs for increasing your brain’s fitness.  One particular company-Posit Science-(I have no interest financial or otherwise in this company)-has performed a randomized, prospective trial in 437 people age 65 or older in which one group trained using a program called Brain Fitness and the other group trained a same amount of time using a placebo program of DVD’s and quizzes.  The study group-the one’s using the mental fitness program-showed a 10-year improvement in their memory but some other interesting findings were also noted such as their hearing clinically improved.  This technology is now being expanded for use in head trauma patients, children with attention deficit disorders, and more, so this is just the beginning.  I guess what this all means, is that not only can you consider improving your appearance to better match your youthful self, now you can exercise your brain to keep it as young as you feel.  Maybe it is time to go buy grandma-and you-a Wii!

Herluf Lund MD

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