How to Convince Insurance Company to Cover Tummy Tuck?

I went to see about a tummy tuck and the doctor said I was a good candidate to have it done. As soon as she heard of my insurance, she said no they do not cover that. With me having hip pain, back pain, unable to do many exercises from excess skin, how does a doctor let my insurance company know it is not just cosmetic. She did not even try to help me get my insurance company to do the surgery. I would like some help in this area.

Doctor Answers 31

Tummy Tucks and Insurance

Tummy Tucks are typically not covered by insurance. I would suggest that you contact your Human Resources Department to advise you on your benefits. Best wishes!

Columbus Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Insurance Coverage for Tummy Tucks and Panniculectomies

Thank you for your question and for including a photograph for reference.  

In general, insurance companies do not cover tummy tucks or abdominoplasty procedures.  Insurance companies will, however, consider medical coverage for a panniculectomy, or the removal of the excess skin envelope that can hang over the pubic region.  With that said, each insurance company has their own specific set of criteria that must be met in order to determine that the proposed procedure falls within specific guidelines for the procedure to be deemed medically necessary.  

In my practice, my surgical coordinator works closely with the patient and patient's insurance company to file a claim or appeal for medical necessity.  This is sometimes a short and easy process but more often this is a lengthy process that can take several months and sometimes requires several appeals to complete.  Photographs depicting the hanging skin envelope, documentation of medical necessity from primary care physicians and dermatologists, notation as to whether or not the patient has suffered skin infections or rashes as a result of the overhanging skin, documentation of significant weight loss, and sometimes letters from physical therapists attesting to the patients limitations as a result of this excess skin, etc.. will all help to strengthen a patients case for medical necessity.  I hope you find this helpful.

Stephen T. Greenberg, MD
Woodbury Plastic Surgeon
3.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Insurance coverage for tummy tuck

Insurance companies do not cover tummy tucks, they are cosmetic. They do cover panniculectomy(removal of overhanging skin) when the patient meets the criteria. Each insurance company has their own criteria so you should talk to them first. They will also cover hernia repair but not the tightening of the muscles or repair of diastasis recti. Many plastic surgeons feel it is a waste of time and money for them to check with the insurance company but as the person who is covered by the insurance company you certainly should check.

John P. Stratis, MD
Harrisburg Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Tummy tuck insurance coverage

I have never seen a Tummy Tuck or Abdominoplasty procedure being covered by insurance as it's considered cosmetic.  A panniculectomy, which is a very different kind of procedure that addresses excess hanging lower abdominal skin may be covered as a medically necessary procedure with adequate documentation of the size of the pannus, and rash or recurrent infections within the folds.

Lohith Bose, MD
Valparaiso General Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

There is no convincing. Sorry!

Hi Tech58, Many people are under the false assumption insurance companies will pay for them to have plastic surgery. Many, many moons ago, this would occasionally happened, yes, but healthcare in our country has changed dramatically in the last decade and with the current state of affairs in our government regarding healthcare coverage, I can assure you, no provider is paying for cosmetic procedures. There are patients that have suffered horrific injuries causing life changing scarring and immobility that have to fight for even partial reimbursement for procedures that restore their quality of life. The benefits paid by insurance companies for reconstructive plastic surgery vary greatly from carrier to carrier and plan to plan. If you are hoping that your health insurance will pay for your cosmetic surgery, we recommend checking with them ahead of setting up your consultation. It's not your surgeon's role to help you get your insurance company to do anything. That is between you and them!

William Aiello, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

Insurance and Tummy Tucks

Insurance will not cover a tummy tuck as this is deemed cosmetic in nature. They do occasionally cover a panniculectomy which is defined as removing the hanging skin below the belly button that can rub and get in the way of exercise. A panniculectomy is different from a tummy tuck in that there is not internal muscle or fascia tightening and there is no contouring or shaping of the upper part of abdomen above the belly button. There is specific criteria that needs to be met in order for your insurance company to approve a panniculectomy and unfortunately, this differs from one insurance company to another. Consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon is recommended to see what options are available to you. Hope that helps!

-Dr. Angelos

Tyler Angelos, MD
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Insurance tummy tuck

Hi Tech58,

Thank you for your question and attached photo.  Without evaluating you in person, I can't tell you if your excess skin removal would be covered by insurance.  Certainly a formal tummy tuck is not covered by insurance, but removal of excess skin, referred to as a panniculectomy, is covered in certain circumstances.  I would recommend you see a plastic surgeon who takes your insurance to discuss your eligibility.

Hope that helps.


Dr. B

David Boudreault, MD
Palo Alto Physician
4.9 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Insurance for a tummy tuck

Thanks for your question.

Unfortunately, insurance doesn't cover a tummy tuck. Insurance will cover a "panniculectomy" which strictly involves removing the "apron" of skin that overhangs the lower abdomen. A panniculectomy doesn't involve tightening of the abdominal muscles or moving or improving the belly button, which is done in a tummy tuck. 

Best wishes,

Dr. Blagg

Austin, TX

Ross Blagg, MD
Austin Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Insurance coverage for tummy tuck

Tummy Tucks are rarely covered by insurance. Check with your insurance company for surgeons who are in its network and your benefits to better understand what criteria you would need to meet for insurance coverage.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Tummy-tuck and insurance coverage

Hello and thank-you for your question and photo.

A tummy-tuck (abdominoplasty) is considered a cosmetic procedure which is generally not covered by health insurance. This procedure removes excess skin and fat, lifts the pubic area, tightens the muscles, and reshapes the umbilicus (belly button). If you have had a large weight loss and have excess skin which hangs past your pubic area (pannus), health insurance may pay for a portion of the procedure to remove it (panniculectomy). This may lessen some of the cost of the abdominoplasty, but is frequently difficult to have approved by insurance carriers. I would recommend a consultation with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. I wish you the best of luck,

Andrew Lyos MD, FACS.

Andrew T. Lyos, MD, FACS
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 59 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.