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What Are the Requirements to Have Insurance Cover Blepharoplasty?

Excess upper eyelid skin runs in both sides of my family, and most have impaired vision by their late 50s. At 37, my upper eyelids hang over my lashes; the excess skin is about 1/2" when pinched with no apparent fat, just skin sagging over lashes. I'm used to it, but there is definitely an upper black line in my vision where the lids are pressing down, and I can "see" my lashes at all times.

What are the usual requirements to gain insurance approval with a good PPO? Is this even possible, or is it always considered cosmetic?

Doctor Answers (30)

Insurance coverage of blepharoplasty


Most insurance companies will cover blepharoplasty if 3 requirements are met.

1. Documented photo of eyelid droop or dermatochlasia (excess skin above the eyelid)

2. Documented clinical exam by a physician

3. Improvement in superior visual field test with tape compared to without. (Basically you have to see better to make it a non cosmetic case)

Insurance companies never cover the lower eyelid blepharoplasty

Los Angeles Oculoplastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

If vision is impaired by excess eyelid skin, then yes, procedure 15823


If the excess eyelid skin is pushing down your eyelids and your vision is impaired, then insurance may help cover the costs.

The definitive test required by the insurance companies is the visual field exam - taped and untaped. You'll look at some flashing lights and push a button when you see the light. Then you'll repeat the test after having your eyelids taped up. The computer records how many you saw and how many you missed. It also keeps track of false positives and negatives, so it doesn't help to cheat.

If the test shows that your vision in the upper fields have improved by have your eyelid skin removed from your field of view, then insurance will likely cover it. Unless it's medicare, they may also require preop photos and a letter of medical necessity submitted to them for prior authorization before surgery.

Of course, all of this depends on your insurance coverage. Contact your insurance company to make sure that its not excluded from your policy. The procedure code is 15823. If it is covered, you'll still be responsible for meeting your deductible and co-pays, based on your coverage.

Beverly Hills Oculoplastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

A "visual field test" confirms whether excess eyelid skin blocks vision


There is an objective test, typically done in an ophthalmologists' office that confirms whether eyelid skin is responsible for blocking vision. The test involves evaluating each eye seperately. You sit looking into a box with one eye covered. There are brief flashes of light and with each flash you are asked to push a button. If you can't see the flashes in the upper field of your vision, and the opthalmologist concurs that this is from excess skin , then the test may be considered positive.

If there is a functional blockage of vision, either from excesss eyled skin, and or significant descent of the brow and eyelid skin, which is confirmed by the visual filed test, then many insurance carries will consider surgical management as "medically necessary".

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

The Visual Field Test tells all


It would be very unusual at your age to have an insurable amount of visual field obstruction, but not impossible. The Visual Field Tests are simple tests that have to be done by an ophthalmologist, not by a plastic surgeon.

If you have an ophthalmologist, they can arrange for you to have it done and then you can see if you are insurable. Expect major resistance from your carrier, however, as they will likely be skeptical of your "medical necessity" for an upper blepharoplasty.

Fortunately, the costs of upper lid surgery are among the lowest of all facial cosmetic surgeries and the results are great!

Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Field Test


In most cases, insurance does not cover eyelid surgery. Removal of simple excess skin and fat from the upper and lower eyelids is considered "cosmetic" in most cases, where the goal is primarily improvement of appearance.

In select cases, where the upper eyelid skin hangs so far over the upper eyelid lash margin that this extra "hood" of skin actually blocks the peripheral vision, upper eyelid surgery should be a covered benefit of your insurance plan. In these cases, the upper eyelid surgery is performed for functional improvement, and therefore is "reconstructive" and not cosmetic in nature. It is important that your surgeon properly documents the medical necessity of the planned procedure with your insurance carrier before the procedure is done. Most commonly, this involves sending you to an optometrist or ophthalmologist to have computerized visual field testing, which documents the degree to which your hanging upper eyelids obscure the peripheral vision. The test is then repeated with your excess upper eyelid skin temporarily taped up in a higher (non-obstructing) position to show the improvement of your peripheral vision that should be expected following blepharoplasty for the upper eyelids.

Drooping of the brow and forehead may also contribute to the visual field obstruction, and your plastic surgeon should evaluate whether brow lift (in addition to, or in place of, upper blepharoplasty) is the proper treatment option for you.

Although most insurance carriers will make every effort to deny benefits even for legitimate functional surgery such as this, proper documentation and diagnostic studies will tip the balance in your favor, and your insurance carrier should cover at least a portion of the cost of the operation.

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon

Requirements to have insurance cover an upper blepharoplasty

 It is best to check with your insurance booklet that comes with her insurance policy which spells out covered benefits.
 For an insurance company to cover an upper blepharoplasty they're usually has to be a significant restriction of visual fields(25-30%) before they will consider it is a covered medical benefit for medical necessity.
 A visual field obstruction test( taped in and taped upper lids) along with photographs and chart notes from your surgeon are submitted to the insurance company for preauthorization prior to the surgery.
 For many examples of eyelid surgery, please see link below

Web reference:

Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 52 reviews

When Insurance Covers Eyelid Surgery


There are three basic conditions when insurance carriers will consider coverage for eyelid surgery:

1. A drooping of the eyelid which is caused by injury or merely a congenital condition.(eyelid ptosis)

2.A sagging of the lower lid (ectropian), which causes excessive tearing and eye irritation.

3.The most common condition when insurance considers coverage is when there is a significant drooping of the upper eyelid skin causing a partial obstruction in vision.

To get coverage for #3 the following steps must occur: 1. An examination by the physician 2. A visual fields test to ascertain the degree of visual obstruction 3. A letter seeking prior authorization for the removal of the excess skin, submitted by your surgeon.

Web reference:

Eau Claire Plastic Surgeon
3.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Insurance Coverage for Eyelid Surgery


Some patients seeking eyelid surgery actually have visual field impairment secondary to eyelid skin obstructing their vision. If actual visual disturbance is suspected, then it will be necessary to have the visual fields tested. The visual field is the area that one would expect a person with normal vision to see. If drooping eyelids actually obstruct the vision it is often in the upper outer portion of the normal field one commonly sees. In order to document this, it will be necessary to undergo an examination by an ophthalmologist or an optometrist to document the actual visual field impairment. Once this documentation is received by the plastic surgeon, a letter will be formulated and photographs taken. This preauthorization letter will include the recommendations for the procedure or procedures necessary to correct the visual field impairment. When properly documented, many insurance companies will pay for these procedures.

Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

When is blepharoplasty (eyelid lift) covered by insurance?


Whenever we deal with insurance companies, the answer is complicated. In short, it's best to check with your insurance company, or have your doctor's office check for you. But these are the general requirements:

Most insurance companies will cover blepharoplasty if all 3 requirements are met.

1. Documented photo of eyelid droop or dermatochlasia (excess skin above the eyelid)

2. Documented clinical exam by two physicians: plastic surgeon and ophthalmologist.

3. Improvement in superior visual field test with taped eyelids compared to untaped (this is done by the eye doctor).

(Basically you have to see better to make it a non cosmetic case)

Insurance companies never cover the lower eyelid blepharoplasty, but many patients choose to do this at the same time. This is done with a separate cosmetic fee.

Jacksonville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Medical insurance and blepharoplasty


Simple question. If you feel that your eyelid skin is truly impairing your health or medical well being, then you may be a true candidate for a blepharoplasty. If it is for cosmetic gain, it probably isn't covered. Raffy Karamanoukian Los Angeles

Web reference:

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 43 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.

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