If you've fantasized about making alterations to your appearance at one time or another, you're not alone. More than 11 million cosmetic procedures were performed in 2006, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, and the number is growing. Whether it's stubborn love handles and cumbersome glasses or thinning hair and deepening smile lines, most of us could name at least one physical feature we would like to change if we had the opportunity--and the finances--to do so.

More and more people, even those who are not celebrities, are turning to elective health-care procedures as solutions to what they view as physical imperfections (such as crooked teeth), inconveniences (such as relying on contacts or glasses), or medical conditions (such as infertility). In fact, Botox, liposuction, rhinoplasty, breast augmentation, dental implants, and infertility treatments are now among the most common procedures performed in the United States.

Benefits and Risks
A successful elective health-care procedure can positively impact your self-esteem and quality of life, which is why many people decide that the benefits outweigh the risks and costs of surgery.

Other than appearance-enhancing elective surgeries, elective procedures have improved the lives of millions in other ways. Here are some examples:

1. Surgically removing excess skin caused by dramatic weight loss can renew self-confidence.

2. Lasik surgery can restore vision for those who were dependent on contact lenses or glasses.

3. Breast reduction surgery can ease constant back pain.

4. Infertility treatments can allow a couple who had given up on conceiving to have a child.

Of course, as with most medical procedures, there are risks. Take the time before the procedure to research your specialist or surgeon. Make sure the surgeon is certified by American Board of Plastic Surgery and that the center where your procedure is performed is accredited. And finally, don't be afraid to talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have about the procedure.

Paying for Elective Health-Care Procedures
Because these procedures are usually considered not medically necessary, few insurance companies cover the expenses. People undergoing such surgeries are left to foot often hefty bills, and they may explore various options to help cover the expenses.

Prices range greatly, depending on the procedure. In response to the increasing popularity and demand, companies such as Capital One have started to offer financing options designed specifically to help ease the financial burden for elective procedures.

By offering low APRs and flexible payment options, Capital One makes it easier for individuals to undergo potentially life changing reconstructive or cosmetic surgery--without having to go into debt.