Can someone please clarify if a tummy tuck would qualify for time off under FMLA or short term disability?

I have had two children and have extra skin that I would like removed. I do not have a hernia or a medical necessity for the surgery. My main concern is that my job would not be protected while in recovery. Thanks for any input.

Doctor Answers 5

Disability for abdominoplasty

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You pose an interesting question. FMLA exists to protect an individual's job while they are recovering from an illness or surgery regarding themselves or a family member for which the recipient is a primary caretaker. Short term disability allows them to collect some salary while the individual is unable to work. 
Certainly, you will require time to recover following surgery. That time is related to your work. You might be able to return to work as soon as two weeks for a sedentary position or as long as six weeks for heavy manual labor.
The details of the disability policy are important. 
Taking time following a cosmetic procedure is difficult to justify. Your best bet may be to discuss this with your HR people or union representative. Don't put your financial future in jeopardy. I usually advise my patients to use accrued vacation or sick time during their recovery.
Preparation for surgery is the most important task you have to undertake. The surgery may need to wait until you are fully ready to recover. Do your homework first and you'll have the best result. Good luck.

Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

FMLA and short term disability

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  • Check with your HR department and/or employer on this.
  • Your surgeon just fills out the forms. S/he cannot lie but need not say tummy tuck. I call it repair of damaged muscle.
  • FMLA is federal protection of 12 weeks unpaid leave for various reasons, including your own health. It does not apply to every employer.
  • Short term disability is a state program with different eligibility requirements state by state.
  • But if you employer wants to fire you - your job can simply be eliminated.
  • My experience is that 1-2 weeks of time off rarely leads to this - because it takes longer to find and train a replacement. 

FMLA after tt

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I have had this issue with patients before.  I don't "cheat" or "lie" to patients or on these forms.

To my understanding, the FMLA doesn't and can't discriminate elective vs emergent or necessary surgery.  For example, what if you need a breast biopsy or uterine ablation, and there is no immediate need for the surgery?

You will need time off. I work with the patient with the forms.  I don't specify exactly what was done (not a fib), and we have never had an issue.  I also advise to check with your HR dept.



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You are asking a legal question to surgeons, and I for one do not feel qualified to respond. Some of these rules may be different depending upon whether you are a government employee or not, and where you live. 

I would suggest discussing this with the Human Resource  person at your company. 

If you work is not physical, you may be able to return after 7-10 days.  Heavy laborers might need six weeks. 

Thanks for your question, All the best. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon

Job protectiondue to disability after tummy tuck

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If your job is not labor intensive , you should be able to return to your work after 10 days providing you restrict yourself to do only light activities. Your surgeon  would provide you with a disability statement, it is not necessary to mention the type of surgery he/she has performed.  This medical statement should be considered a medical disability certificate , sufficient enough tp protect your job. 

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.