Are complications from plastic surgery, like Chin Liposuction, still considered elective surgery costs?

If one develops an infection or serious complication from liposuction, could that result in high costs? Are those complications considered costs related to elective surgery, or will they fall under regular medical expenses? What is the infection rate for this procedure? What is the likelyhood of other complications?

Doctor Answers 6

Health insurance and cosmetic surgery

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Everyone's health insurance policy is different, however, in general, most health insurance plans do not cover any complications resulting from a cosmetic procedure. You have to read the fine print of your individual plan. However, there are very reasonable priced cosmetic insurance plans that can be purchased prior to your cosmetic procedure that cover complications resulting from the cosmetic procedure. Your plastic surgeon can give you information on these plans that are sold by a separate company. You can also ask your plastic surgeon if you are at increased risk of having a complication and thus worth the extra expense of obtaining the policy.
Best wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Chin Liposuction

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The answer is “YES” to higher costs, possibly, and an infection would be related to an elective procedure, but fortunately, complications are rare as are infections.

Vivek Bansal, MD
Danville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Chin Liposuction Complications Are Usually Minor

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While there may be instances where one's medical insurance will cover the costs of a complication from cosmetic surgery, one should undergo the procedure with the assumption that they would not. Fortunately, major complications that require hospitalization and in-hospital surgery are rare. Most commonly, they are more minor and are managed by out-of-hospital treatments and maybe even some minor outpatient revisional surgery later. In small areas of liposuction like that of chin, it would be hard to envision that any such major problems can occur. The most likely 'complications' are aesthetic including smoothness of the neck skin and an adequate reduction. 

Liposuction Chin San Diego

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Infection or another complication resulting from chin liposuction should be unusual when the procedure is performed for the proper indications in the well trained and highly skilled hands of a board certified plastic surgeon.  Should a complication develop, depending what it is, there are of course additional financial obligations incurred, but even more costly from a practical standpoint are the physical and psychological sequelae of unintended injury.  This is why it is SO IMPORTANT to choose the right surgeon.  Depending on the type of complication and your insurance, management may be a covered or a non-covered benefit.  Infection rate, and chance of other medical complications extremely low for chin liposuction.  Most common problems are cosmetic... Residual loose skin in the cervico-mental angle, and/or visible platysma bands exposed by the removal of fat.

Steve Laverson, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 50 reviews

These are very good questions.

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Generally, health insurance companies are moving in the direction of not covering medical illnesses that are a consequence of cosmetic surgery.  This practice is not uniform and much depends on how the treating physician or surgeon elects to code things.  For example, for many teachers, their districts will provide coverage or partial coverage for cosmetic surgery as part of a benefits package.  It is likely under this type of health insurance which is really a self-insured plan for a school district that is administered by a health insurance company, it is likely that complications would be covered.  The point is that you should know what is or is not covered by your health insurance.

You did not ask but might wonder, If it is a complication of a cosmetic surgery, shouldn't my surgeon pay for the cost?  The answer here is that cosmetic surgeons have not embraced this risk.  Your cosmetic surgery is elective.  Your are making the choice to have the procedure.  Your surgeon does have a responsibility to inform you of potential risks of surgery, alternatives, and the likelihood of success.  They have a responsibility to provide their best care according to standards that other surgeon in their situation provide.  The point is, things happen.  Do enough surgery, even with the utmost care and someone is likely to get an infection or have an unexpected reaction to an administered drug.  These are issues that are ultimately beyond the control of even the most careful surgeon.  For this reason, when you choose to have these surgeries you are also choosing to bear the risk of loss should something go amiss.

What is the risk of an infection following a chin liposuction?  Fortunately very low.  It is not likely that you will have such an issue.  However, if you did develop an infection, yes the cost of taking care of this may be the cost of antibiotics or in exceptional circumstances, you might even need hospitalization, iv antibiotics, further surgery.  While it could happen and probably has happened, I personally have not seen this worse case situation arise.  If it did, sure this could be extraordinarily expensive.

Kenneth D. Steinsapir, MD
Beverly Hills Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Are complications from plastic surgery, like chin liposuction, still considered elective surgery costs?

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Hello! Thank you for your question! Surgical procedures for aesthetic purposes, to improve appearance, are not covered by insurance. Typically, these as well as complications resulting from such procedures are the responsibility of the patient. Procedures that are meant to correct functional issues and those which cause health-related issues should be covered by your insurance as a medical necessity, with proper examination and documentation. Some insurance plans have exclusion criteria for certain procedures. Also, it is an obligation of the surgeon not to attempt to authorize purely cosmetic procedures through insurance.  It is best to clarify with your insurance - depending on your complication, it may not be covered.

Discuss your issues and complaints with a board-certified plastic surgeon to discuss these as well as to examine and assist you in deciding which procedure(s) will be the best for you. A discussion of the advantages and disadvantages will take place along with the risks and benefits. Insurance companies will vary on coverage and is always reasonable to discuss your issues with your surgeon and primary care. It would behoove you to get as much information as possible and even call your insurance yourself. Certainly, pay in advance prior to your surgical procedure and options such as financing are available if you qualify. Hope that this helps! Best wishes!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 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.