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Nearly 20 percent of American women are considering plastic surgery to improve their looks according to a recent survey commissioned by the online community RealSelf.com. The largest barrier to pursuing invasive cosmetic enhancements is the cost. This is because most of the procedures are not deemed medically necessary by insurance companies.

While some countries, such as Brazil, now provide a face lift or tummy tuck under their national health care program, as a rule it is typically patients who are responsible for all the costs associated with going under the plastic surgeon’s knife. However, there are a few surgeries which have a high probability of being approved as eligible for full or partial insurance coverage. Would you be willing to have any of these procedures if you could have them done for free?

 

Breast Reconstruction

This is an umbrella term which covers procedures related to mammoplasty (breast reduction), mammoplexy (breast lift), and augmentation (breast enlargement). Breasts that are too large can leave women with back pain. Hanging breasts can create raw areas due to friction that are susceptible to rashes and yeast infections. Breast deformities can cause one breast to be much smaller than the other, to the point where clothes can not be fitted properly. Additionally, women who had mastectomies due to breast cancer are now usually covered for surgeries to restore the appearance of their breasts. All these things are considered for potential coverage by health insurance providers.

 

Rhinoplasty (Nose Job)

A nose job is one of the most common plastic surgeries on insurance company payment lists. The main diagnosis that results in an approval is a “deviated septum”. This is an anomaly in plane of the flesh that separates your nostrils. When this barrier isn’t straight it can cause problems with breathing, sleep apnea, and sinus infections. Repairing the defect usually makes your nose appear more symmetrical, and therefore more attractive. When reviewing your request to approve your surgery, the insurance company may need to see scans of your nasal cavity, sleep studies, and medical documentation of ongoing problems.

 

Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)

The rise in global rates of obesity has now resulted in increased weight loss surgery. After many years of insurance company denials, bariatric procedures are routinely approved for patients with a BMI over 40. What many people do not think about is that excess skin will not disappear along with the weight. After significant changes in body size, hanging folds of skin can rub against each other and cause irritation, skin infections, and impaired range of motion.  Patients who ask for a tummy tuck on the insurance company dime must prove that they will see a significant reduction in physical complaints, and often need to show that several pounds of skin will be removed.

 

Blepharoplasty (Eye Lift)

As we age, the skin around our eyes loses elasticity and begins to sag, leaving us looking tired even when we’ve gotten a full 8 hours of beauty sleep. In some cases, the drooping lids hang low enough to interfere with vision. While this condition normally presents at birth, it can develop later in life. Injuries can also cause nerve damage that leaves a lid obscuring part of the eye. This procedure is normally covered only for the top eyelid and not the bottom one. So, getting rid of the bags under your eyes would still be out of your pocket. Your surgeon would need to submit documentation that the affected eye is making it hard to drive, read, or perform other vision-related daily activities.

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