A surgeon operating on a patient
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Only Some Cosmetic Surgeries Are Tax Deductible

Dan Clarendon - Author
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Feb. 22 2022, Published 5:12 a.m. ET

If you’re wondering whether cosmetic surgery, dental implants, LASIK, or other medical expenses are tax deductible, the IRS has a document for you. Publication 502 explains what medical and dental expenses you can claim as itemized deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040) of your 2021 tax return. For starters, you can only deduct the medical and dental expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income.

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The IRS defines medical expenses as “the costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, and for the purpose of affecting any part or function of the body.” But the agency also notes that these expenses “must be primarily to alleviate or prevent a physical or mental disability or illness” and don’t include expenses that are “merely beneficial” to one’s general health.

Is cosmetic surgery tax deductible?

In Publication 502, the IRS states that you generally can’t include cosmetic surgery in your medical expenses unless that cosmetic surgery is “necessary to improve a deformity arising from, or directly related to, a congenital abnormality, a personal injury resulting from an accident or trauma, or a disfiguring disease.” That means that esthetic changes such as facelifts, hair transplants, hair removal, and liposuction usually can't be included in your medical expenses.

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cosmetic surgery
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There are exceptions, though. For example, an individual who has a breast removed as part of cancer treatment and then receives a breast reconstruction can include the reconstruction in their medical expenses because “the surgery to reconstruct the breast corrects a deformity directly related to the disease.”

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Are dental implants tax deductible?

The section of Publication 502 related to dental treatment specifies that includible medical expenses are amounts a taxpayer pays to prevent dental disease (such as teach cleaning, sealant applications, or fluoride treatments), or to alleviate dental disease (such as X-rays, fillings, braces, and dentures).

That section of the publication doesn’t mention dental implants specifically, but a TurboTax employee said in a 2019 forum post that dental implants would be tax deductible if the implants “improved dental function as well as appearance.”

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Is LASIK surgery tax deductible?

LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) eye surgery represents an includible medical expense, according to the IRS. “You can include in medical expenses the amount you pay for eye surgery to treat defective vision, such as laser eye surgery or radial keratotomy,” the agency states in Publication 502.

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Additionally, The Balance points out that you can deduct expenses related to LASIK procedures, including the costs of your trip to and from the surgery, hospital food, and any lodging required by the operation.

And speaking of eye-related expenses, the IRS says in Publication 502 you can include amounts you pay for eye examinations, eyeglasses and contact lenses that are medically necessary, and the saline solution and enzyme cleaner you might use for your contacts. For more information, refer to Publication 502 or consult a tax professional.

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