Ask a doctor

Breast Reduction and Lift Insurance Coverage Requirements?

I am a healthy 28-year-old. I was a 34 DD before having kids. I am 5'3" and weigh 150 lbs. I have 10 more lbs to go before I meet with a surgeon. My breasts used to be firm, perky and although large, very nice. Now they are saggy, huge and limp.

I would like to get a breast lift and breast reduction. I have BCBS of NJ, but live in Las Vegas. I will be done nursing in March. They are now larger than a 36F. Whats the next step? I want to be a 34 large C. I am wearing pink in the photo.

Doctor Answers (19)

Insurance coverage for breast reduction.


Answer by George J. Beraka, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
80% of breast reduction questions on RealSelf are about insurance coverage. Here are some helpful points.

1) Insurance companies try very hard not to pay for breast reduction, even though they should. Even small breast reductions relieve many symptoms such as back pain and shoulder pain, and even some types of headaches.

2) Very big reductions (like from an F cup to a C cup) will usually be covered.

3) Many policies will pay for breast reduction if 500 grams (a little more than a pound) or more are removed from each breast.

4) Some policies take your height and weight into account. So that if you are tiny, smaller reductions will be covered. Find out the details of your policy.

5) DON'T get too much of a reduction just to satisfy the insurance company. You will be unhappy with tiny breasts.

6) Your surgeon needs to request pre-certification IN WRITING, and attach as much evidence as possible.

7) Evidence includes letters from your internist, orthopedic surgeon, and/or chiropractor stating that breast reduction will relieve your symptoms.

8) Some companies require that you try "alternative treatments" such as weight loss and physical therapy first.

9) Don't give up. If the first request is denied, demand an appeal.

10) If there is no insurance, and you cannot afford to pay a private surgeon, go to the plastic surgery clinic of a teaching hospital. There, residents do the surgery under supervision, and the cost is minimal. In New York City, we train residents and fellows at Lenox Hill Hospital, and they do good work.

Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Breast reduction by insurance or not


I can clearly understand that you want your reduction to be done under your insurance and you can certainly visit surgeons who can write letters to your insurance seeking preauthorization of coverage. But please also know that these are the only breasts you will ever have and many of the very best plastic surgeons no longer work with any insurance as the reimbursement for a breast reduction to the doctor can be as low as a few hundred dollars depending on the insurance. This doesn't even cover the doctor's cost of doing the surgery. So you might want to find the very best surgeon even if they don't take insurance and have them discuss this with you. Look at lots of photos and go to the best doctor regardless of insurance.

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

Breast Reduction Insurance Criteria

 Large breasts (macromastia) or breast hypertrophy can occur in a variety of conditions (family trait, post pregnancy, excessive adolescent growth). In general when the excessive breast size causes functional problems, insurance will generally pay for the operation if more than 400 – 500 grams are removed from each breast dependent on your individual insurance company requirements. These problems may include neck pain, back or shoulder pain, hygiene difficulty, and breast pain. Other problems which are less likely to be covered by insurance include skin irritation, skeletal deformity, breathing problems, psychological/emotional problems, and interference with normal daily activities. Pre-authorization by the insurance company is required prior to surgery, and the process takes approximately one month. Each insurance policy has different guidelines and exclusions.
This procedure is commonly covered by insurance through insurance criteria are becoming more and more restrictive. Although we do not accept insurance, our staff will assist you in obtaining pre-authorization so that you can attempt to be reimbursed for out of pocket expenses

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

You might also like...

Insurance Coverage & Breast Reduction Surgery


         Breast reduction surgery is often covered by insurance carriers, but breast lift is never covered by these companies. Some insurance companies actually exclude breast reduction as a contract exclusion. When insurance carriers cover breast reduction, they may have specific criteria that must be met. For instance, most insurance carriers require documentation of symptoms. Examples would include back pain, shoulder pain, breast pain and headaches to name a few. They may also require documentation of attempted non surgical management of symptoms. Examples might include physical therapy, support devices and anti-inflammatory drugs. Some insurance carriers require a minimal amount of breast tissue removal from each breast. This is often based on calculations, which utilize the patient’s weight and height.


         The process starts with a consultation. At that time, pictures are taken and a prior authorization letter is sent for approval. It typically takes about six weeks to obtain a response. If your insurance carrier’s criteria are met, you are ready to schedule surgery. Blue cross blue shields criteria varies from state to state, but in most states, it has a high approval rate. 

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 78 reviews

Breast reduction and lift

You will likely benefit greatly from a lift and reduction.  The insurance portion only applies to the reduction, but usually a lift is an important part of the procedure to obtain the best looking results.

David Stoker, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Insurance coverage?


Every insurance plan has their own unique criteria on whether they will cover a breast reduction.  More and more, we are seeing plans where a breast reduction is not a covered benefit.  If it is a covered benefit, some insurance plans set a minimum required amount of tissue to be remove in order to met their threshold for coverage.  Some set the amount in relation to your BMI (height and weight).  Others require extensive medical records documenting neck pain, back pain, and history of rashes.   The other alternative is to opt for a breast reduction as a self-pay option.   Start by visiting with a board certified plastic surgeon to learn more about your options.
Best wishes,

Dr. Basu
Houston, TX

C. Bob Basu, MD, FACS
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 123 reviews

Insurance coverage


Breast reduction may be covered by insurance if you meet certain critera, specified by your insurance coverage.  Often times, insurance company will need documentation of back pain, shoulder pain, photos, your height and weight, size of your breasts and proposed weight of breast tissue that would be removed.  If you do not meet the criteria set by your insurance coverage, you will need to undergo breast reduction by self-pay.  Your self-pay breast reduction cost will differ depending on your surgeon's fee, facility fee, and anesthesia fee.  There is a geographic difference as well.  It will vary from $8000-$10,000.  Please visit with board-certified plastic surgeons to discuss the overall cost as well as potential risks, alternatives, and benefits.  Good luck to you.

Sugene Kim, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Insurance and breast reduction


Reductions can be done as early as 15 with parental consent, a proper medical clearance and breast growth that has stopped. Insurance coverage is a hit or miss depending on the carrier.  Usually having symptoms related to breast size is necessary for insurance coverage. Getting it covered though is very difficult. Insurance companies wont tell anyone how much tissue needs to be removed to qualify for coverage. Then if the surgeon is 1gram off they deny coverage after the fact. Insurance companies make money by denying coverage. For that reason most plastic surgeon will likely ask for payment up front.  Breast reductions are the most gratifying operations because years of neck, back and shoulder pain are gone within days.  The final size result depends on your starting size. If you start larger then you will likely end larger. It is not possible to choose a size with any real accuracy. The main reason is that the procedure removes breast tissue but leaves enough tissue to preserve the blood supply to the nipple and areola. Thus more tissue needs to be left behind to ensure nipple viability. The nipple and areola is constantly being accessed during the operation. See a board certified plastic surgeon for specifics on your treatment.

Raj S. Ambay, MD
Tampa Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Breast reduction insurance coverage

The best way to obtain insurance coverage for breast reduction surgery involves some “hoops” to jump through. The more documentation you have (for example, from your primary care doctor, physical therapist, chiropractor etc.) the better when it comes to obtaining insurance “authorization” for the procedure.
This documentation and letter/pictures from your plastic surgeon will help you obtain authorization. Make sure you're saying a well-trained/experienced board-certified plastic surgeon. Good luck!

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 753 reviews

Breast Reduction Timing after Breastfeeding and Insurance Coverage


Since you are young, the first question for you to consider prior to undergoing any breast reduction surgery is whether or not you plan to have any more children, and if the answer is yes, do you wish to breastfeed? I recommend to all my young female patients to finish having their children and finish breastfeeding since, as you have experienced, your breasts will grow, change size, change shape, then "deflate" (something we call "involutional hypoplasia") over time. Also, if you wish to maximize your ability to breastfeed in the future, then you should not undergo breast reduction surgery until you've completed having children.

Once you have decided that it is time for you to undergo a breast reduction, you should try to reach your goal weight first so that your breast volume is stable. Insurance companies will typically cover breast reduction surgery if the claim has evidence that the patient suffers significant disability and pain from the size of her breasts (such as chronic neck, back, shoulder pains, headaches) or other problems such as chronic rashes beneath the breasts, 'bra-strap' grooving deformity of the shoulders and impedence of one's ability to exercise appropriately due to the large size of her breasts. It is important to document that treatments to try and alleviate the problems have been tried and failed- such as chiropractic treatments, physical therapy, weight-loss without a reduction in the size of the breasts, dermatologic treatments for skin-rashes, etc. Finally, most insurance companies are now requesting photographs of patients' breasts along with the paperwork claim, as well as some sort of documentation that the surgeon plans to resect at least about 500 grams of tissue from each breast.

Understand that lifting of the breast (breastlift) is an inherent portion of a breast reduction procedure, and that the breasts become both reduced and lifted at the same time. A breastlift is deemed cosmetic if no significant amount of breast tissue is resected. Be sure that your surgeon sends any resected breast tissue to pathology for final examination. If you are 40 years old or older, it is imperative to get a mammogram prior to any breast reduction surgery.

Suzanne M. Quardt, MD
Palm Springs Plastic Surgeon
3.5 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.