Insurance Coverage for Body Lifts for Non-cosmetic Purpose?

Are Body lifts covered by insurance if sagging skin causes back pain, or you have skin tears due to sitting on the folds of skin, etc.?

Doctor Answers 14

Insurance Coverage for Body Lift Surgery

It's not unusual for massive weight loss patients to develop significant amounts of redundant truncal skin. A variety of surgical options are currently available to address these problems. These include both panniculectomy and body lift procedures. The choice of procedure is dependent upon the patient's anatomic findings and aesthetic goals.

It would be extremely unusual for an insurance carrier to cover the cost of a body lift procedure. Most insurance carriers would view this procedure as cosmetic in nature.

In contrast, abdominal panniculectomy may occasionally be covered by insurance companies if hanging skin is associated with functional problems. Under these circumstances, back pain, rashes and severe infections related to hanging skin may lead to insurance coverage.

It's important that each patient be considered individually when undergoing this type of procedure. It's, therefore, important to consult a board certified plastic surgeon. This surgeon should be able to determine what type of procedure will meet your aesthetic goals and whether or not it will be covered by insurance.

Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 193 reviews

Insurance coverage for body lifts for non-cosmetic purpose?

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.  Typically, body contouring after massive weight loss are not covered by insurance.  There is no evidence in literature to support back pain and sagging skin.  However, other issues may qualify.

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 26 reviews

Body lift and insurance coverage

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
4.7 out of 5 stars 205 reviews

Insurance won't cover body lift surgery.

Some doctors will be happy to try for insurance coverage (that is how they have patients choose them rather than other surgeons who know that coverage is almost NEVER obtained). Of course, when coverage is denied, the patient tends to stay with that surgeon rather than researching those who truthfully stated initially that insurance does not cover body lift surgery. Everyone wants a bargain, but no one wants bargain basement results!

Some patients may obtain insurance coverage for treatment of chronic skin infections, and if a certain (large) amount of skin hangs over the pubic region. Each insurance company has different guidelines, and these must be met in order to obtain coverage. However, what is covered is panniculectomy, which is removal of the pannus, or overhanging suprapubic skin apron, only. The coverage usually amounts to several hundred dollars, plus the OR and anesthesia fees. Once you're done with this, you still need removal of the rest of the upper abdominal loose skin, tightening of the abdominal muscles, and removal of the thigh, hip, and buttock excess skin. In essence, you need the rest of a belt lift or body lift, and another much more expensive operation (and recovery) that is NOT covered. What I advise my patients is that they not get panniculectomy surgery (just because it's covered, and may be "free" or low cost); rather, avoid the "extra' risk and recovery, and have the operation that is actually required--this will be considered NOT covered anyway, and having had a previous panniculectomy can actually make a proper body lift or belt lift more difficult. Even if you have a hernia, repair will be covered (and may be needed if there are obstructive symptoms--consult your doctor), but will not cover the remainder of a body lift or circumferential belt lift. We're talking about less than $2000 "covered cost", compared to $17000 out-of-pocket cost. (This cost is what I charge for outpatient lower body lifts--total cost--in our accredited office surgical facility--my partner and I have done over 250 belt lifts or body lifts as outpatient procedures over the past 13 years.) Hospital procedures usually cost significantly more, and in my opinion, are not necessarily "safer."

BTW, loose or overhanging skin does not cause back pain, even if you can get your doctor or chiropractor to say that it does; the back pain more likely is a result of having been overweight initially. Losing the unneeded weight, whether by diet and exercise, or by lap band, gastric bypass, or other surgical means is the best thing any patient with back problems can do to help themselves!

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 248 reviews

Not that I have seen.


Insurance companies try pretty hard to not cover anything even remotely cosmetic. I have not seen one cover a lower body lift.


Best Regards,


John Di Saia MD

John P. Di Saia, MD
Orange Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Insurance for body lifts

While insurance will often cover the removal of skin because of chronic yeast infections and skin breakdowns it typically won't a complete body lift.  I have seen no evidence that excess circumferential skin causes back pain.

Michael Philbin, MD
Edina Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Insurance coverage for body contouring.

Many PPO insurance plans will provide coverage for certain body contouring procedures. Usually a lower body lift is considered cosmetic in nature, at least to some extent. However, there are portions of the operation, such as panniculectomy or umbilical hernia repair, which would be covered by many insurance plans. Although this may not cover the entire cost for the full operation, it may decrease your out-of-pocket costs.

Kevin Brenner, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Body Lift

I have performed over 100 body lift and have not been able to get insurnace covergae even for one of them.  You can however get insurance for a panniculectomy.  This is excision of the pannus for medically necessary cases such as infection, ulcers, etc.

Siamak Agha, MD, PhD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 104 reviews

Does Insurance Cover Body Lift Procedures

Insurance may or may not cover your body lift procedure, depending on your provider and your plan. In some cases, typically after gastric bypass or other forms of massive weight loss insurance providers will cover portions of the procedure if you are experiencing skin rashes, infections or other medical problems due to the rubbing of excess skin. I would recommend first talking to your insurance provider to see what they are willing and able to cover. From there you will need to find a qualified body lift surgeon who is covered by your plan. The staff members at your plastic surgeon's office should help you with this process.

Tarick K. Smiley, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 113 reviews

We Pursue Insurance Coverage for Our Patients

Since we are paid fby the insurance companies, we feel it is our responsibility to obtain approval from them.

If you have documented skin issues like infections or rashes, my office will help you collect the documentation and we will submit it to the insurance company for approval. Most plans have clear cut guideliens that if met, can provide you with some coverage.

We do not pursue insurance if you do not meet your plans criteria, as this is a significant amount of work for us.

John LoMonaco, MD, FACS
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 267 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.