Can You Claim Plastic Surgery On Your Taxes?

Can You Claim Plastic Surgery On Your Taxes?
Can You Claim Plastic Surgery On Your Taxes?

Did you get a little nip and tuck last year?

It may be tempting to claim these expenses on your taxes, but be wary. The IRS is pretty blunt on where they stand on this issue. According to the IRS, Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses, you generally cannot include medical expenses for cosmetic plastic surgery procedures such as face lifts, hair transplants, hair removal (electrolysis), and liposuction.

“But that’s not to say that it’s a lost cause,” says Vanessa Borges, Enrolled Agent with Tax Defense Network, LLC, a tax resolution company. "You have to consider why you're paying for plastic surgery. If your reasoning isn't supported by a contributing medical condition which requires such a procedure, the IRS generally will not permit the deduction for the expense."

You may not deduct medical expenses for cosmetic surgery; specifically, procedures undergone with the intention to merely enhance your appearance. “The exception to this guideline relates to expenses made for surgeries to improve your appearance following an injury, or to correct a deformity stemming from a disease or genetic abnormality,” Borges says.

Considering the field of plastic surgery, this may include breast reduction, breast reconstruction, or scar revision. But don’t even dream about getting your liposuction or tummy tuck deducted unless they were performed for medical reasons determined by your physician.

In this case, these would be considered medical expenses and they may be deducted only if they were performed during the tax year for which you are filing and can only be deducted once on your tax return. Make sure to double check your work, too. “You're required to subtract any reimbursable medical expenses from those which you plan to take deductions for,” Borges says.

Medical expenses are widely defined. They may include payments to physicians, surgeons, your dentist and even your psychiatrist or psychologist. Deductible medical expenses may also include prescription glasses or contact lenses, false teeth, wheelchairs, crutches and hearing aids.

That being said, perhaps there is an occasional exception to that seemingly hard and fast rule. This story that aired on ABC News referenced an exotic dancer who declared her breast implants as tax deductible and the tax board agreed, albeit thanks to very concrete specifications:

Did a little more digging, and as it turns out, the dancer’s breast implants were no ordinary implants. Because they were so enormous, (size 56N), they were perceived as a stage prop of sorts that improved her ability to earn income, and that she did not gain any personal benefit from them.

Of course, conditions like blepharoptosis, (a drooping of the eyelid), may be covered by insurance as the condition can have a negative impact on one’s ability to see. That would likely be classified as a medically necessary cosmetic procedure and any portion paid by the patient could likely be included as a tax deduction under medical expenses.

For a complete list of what medical expenses can be deducted go to the IRS Publication 502 Medical Expenses page

About the Author

Aly Walansky is a lifestyles writer with over a decade of experience covering beauty, health, and travel for various esteemed publications. Her blog, A Little Alytude (www.alytude.com) was launched in 2006 and continues to be a strong voice in the lifestyles arena. Based in the ever-trendy Park Slope area of Brooklyn, she divides her time between her shih tsu Lily, her soap opera addiction, and scouting out fun new martini bars.