When is a Body Lift Covered by Insurance?

I understand that most of the time, body lift surgery isn't covered by medical insurance, but in certain cases it is. What are the normal criteria for having a body lift paid for by insurance?

Doctor Answers (31)

Insurance coverage for Body Lift

+4

Generally speaking, insurance companies will not pay for a total body lift, but may pay for parts of it. Insurance companies will only pay for procedures they (not your doctors) have determined are "medically necessary", and often have strict criteria for each procedure to be covered. Each plan is different, but sometimes you can find requirements for coverage online depending on your carrier.

Also note that "total body lift" includes different things depending on the surgeon. A circumferential body lift typically addresses the excess skin on the front and back of the abdomen or trunk, and helps lift the lateral thigh and buttock regions in doing so. There are also procedures for medial thigh lifts and arm lifts.

Procedures that have a greater chance of being covered are panniculectomy (distinctly different from abdominoplasty) and abdominal hernia repair. If done at the same time as your body lift, sometimes these "medical" portions can be covered by insurance, with the remaining "cosmetic" costs covered by the patient.

In a standard ABDOMINOPLASTY, or tummy tuck, the overall result is a flatter and smoother abdominal contour, with removal of excess skin and lower abdominal tissue, tightening of the widened abdominal muscles, and repositioning of the belly button. This is considered a "cosmetic procedure" by all insurance companies and is not covered.

The PANNICULECTOMY is different, and only removes the overhanging "apron" of skin and tissue from below the belly button. In the strictest definition, nothing else is done and the two skin edges are closed together and the shape of the abdomen and skin is the same except that lower hanging apron is gone. Even this is not covered by insurance unless you can show them you have a medical reason to have it removed (for example repeat infections due to the overhanging skin, inability to walk because the weight of skin limits your knees, etc)

Despite all of the difficulties with insurance, the total body lift is a very gratifying procedure for both the patient and the surgeon. If cost is an issue, you can always look for board certified plastic surgeons who offer financing, or have the procedure done in more than one step. Choose a safe surgeon that you are comfortable with.

Good luck!


Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Insurance: The exception and not the rule

+3

Insurance companies are making their approval criteria for panniculectomies more and more stringent. Careful documentation and care from a primary cary physician are often required.  

10 years ago, almost all body contouring procedures after massive weight loss were covered by insurance. As the popularity of bariatric surgery increased, so did the requests for post-bariatric body contouring. Insurance companies took note of this and became more selective on their approval process. 

Recently, the only procedures covered by insurance are breast reduction and panniculectomy. Ironically, most patients that have undergone massive weight loss have deflated, sagging breasts, and need a lift, not a reduction. 

A panniculectomy is an "entry level" tummy-tuck. It is removal of the skin apron only. It is not considered cosmetic.

Criteria currently required (as of 2010) for insurance approval include:

  • Bariatric surgery 1 year ago or more
  • Weight loss of 100 pounds or more
  • Stable weight for a minimum of 6 months
  • Skin disorder: rash, ulcers, infections unrelieved by documented medical therapies
  • A minimum amount of breast tissue (for breast reductions) to be removed based on Body Surface Area
  • A certain amount of sagginess of the skin of the abdomen (below or at the level of the genitalia)

William A. Wallace, MD, FACS
Jacksonville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Each insurance is different in terms of qualifying for coverage

+2

Hello,

Thank you for the question.  A body lift is also referred to as a lower body lift or sometimes as a circumferential abdominoplasty.  It generally involves an incision around the waist and combines a tummy tuck in the front, thigh lift on the sides, and buttock lift in the back.  An insurance company may cover the front portion of the body lift if there are skin irritations that do not respond to conservative care, if there is excess skin that interferes with exercise, or other issues.  Each insurance company and individual is different so its often hard to know if a procedure will be covered.  You can always have your prospective plastic surgeon submit the procedure codes to your insurance company and see if they will cover it.

All the best,

Dr Remus Repta

Remus Repta, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 81 reviews

Body Lift and Insurance Coverage

+2

A body lift is generally not covered by insurance as it is deemed cosmetic surgery.  However, a panniculectomy (removal of an apron of excess skin hanging below the waist) may be covered if you have documentation of skin rashes, infections or other problems.  Usually, insurance companies require medical documentation of these problems persisting for at least six months.  You need to check with your insurance company to find out the details.  So although a body lift is not covered by insurance, a panniculectomy may be covered in very specific situations.  A body lift can be completed at the same time as a panniculectomy, but there will be additional cosmetic fees for the surgeon's time, Operating Room and anesthesia fees.  Hope this helps.

Dr. Basu

C. Bob Basu, MD, FACS
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 114 reviews

INSURANCE COVERAGE AND BODY LIFTS

+1
A body lift or belt lipectomy involves three procedures – a tummy tuck, a lateral thigh lift, and a buttock lift.  Unfortunately, insurance companies do not provide coverage for those particular procedures as they are considered cosmetic.  This even holds true for massive weight loss patients after bariatric or gastric bypass surgery.  While some insurance companies may provide coverage for weight loss surgery they rarely pay for the body contouring needed after surgery to remove the excess and sagging skin.  Be sure to research only board certified plastic surgeons and then schedule a consultation for a thorough exam to make sure you are a candidate for a body lift.

Be well and good luck!

@norrisplastic

Morgan E. Norris, MD, FACS
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Body lifts and health insurance

+1
A body lift, in the truest sense, is a cosmetic procedure and is typically not covered by medical insurance.  A panniculectomy, however, is (with some fighting).  Each insurance company has it's own requirements, and they are published on their website - look at these before scheduling a consultation to have the excess skin removed.

I have included a link to help differentiate between the two procedures.

Jason J. Hall, MD, FACS
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

When does insurance cover a body lift

+1

every insurance company is different, but usually they will cover a body lift if there are frequent rashes under the breast, if there are associated hernias. They usually try to find a way not to cover the procedures which is wrong, but you need to find a medical reason for it to be performed.

Rick Rosen, MD
Norwalk Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Ontario body lifts paid for by OHIP

+1
Body lifts are generally not covered by insurance.  Different jurisdictions will have different rules.  In Ontario, your surgeon may apply to the Ministry of Health to seek funding for a panniculectomy.  It may assist in covering a portion of the costs.  Often this will offset some surgical and anaesthetic fees as well as the facility fee.
Rodger Shortt, MD
Plastic Surgeon Oakville

Rodger Shortt, FRCSC
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

When is a Body Lift Covered by Insurance

+1

As a rule, insurance companies do not cover a Body Lift since it is considered cosmetic in nature.  However, a few carriers will cover a panniculectomy or excision of the redundant anterior inferior abdominal skin and fat. If there are documented problems with rashes or infections below the skin.

Paul Vitenas, Jr., MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 37 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.