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Insurance Coverage for Cosmetic Surgery

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This is a repeat of older blogs but the issue comes up every year so I thought it was worth reminding everyone.

Over the weekend I received several e mails from my Louisville Plastic Surgery practice website inquiring about various procedures I perform. Blepharoplasty, otoplasy, facelifts, tummy tucks, breast reductions, breast lifts and augmentations, and liposuction were all mentioned. At least half of these information requests also were accompanied by inquiries into insurance coverage.

Very simply, Health Insurance never has and never will pay for cosmetic surgery. Any operation we do that is intended to improve your appearance is considered cosmetic. In order for insurance to cover a surgery the “problem” with that particular body part has to negatively affecting your health. And being depressed because you don’t like the way something looks does not count.

If you have a question about your particular case please give my office a call.

Lee Corbett, MD

All posts of this blog are presented by Louisville Cosmetic Surgeon, Dr. Lee Corbett.

If there is one constant in my Louisville Ky cosmetic surgery practice, it is the dislike of Drains.

Drains are round or flat tubes that are placed in surgery. They exit through the skin and empty into some form of reservoir. Patients don’t like them at all but they are necessary “evils” following procedures like Louisville Tummy Tucks and Louisville Facelifts.

During surgery if we elevate the skin, as in a facelift, breast lift, or tummy tuck from the underlying muscles, our body will leak serum into that new space. Serum is basically the watery part of our blood. If there is no method to evacuate that fluid, it will form a collection called a seroma. Seroma can cause a variety of problems and so we do our best to avoid them. Thus,  the drain. The drains are placed and serve as an exit route for the fluid. They stay in after surgery anywhere from 12 hours to a week or two depending  on the procedure. They are typically removed not based on time but on output.

So, while they are not the most popular part of cosmetic surgery, they do serve a valuable purpose in helping you achieve a great surgical result.

Lee Corbett, MD

When I consult with a new patient as a Louisville Plastic Surgeon, their problem is deemed either “cosmetic” or “insurance”.

These designations refer to with whom financial responsibility falls. If a case is considered cosmetic, the financial responsiblity falls with the patient. Insurance will not be billed. There is no fee for these visits. Cosmetic cases are typically Louisville Breast Augmentations, Louisville Tummy Tucks, Louisville Liposuction, Louisville Rhinoplasty, and Louisville Facelifts

If a case is considered reconstructive and the patient expects their insurance to cover the costs of the surgery, their insurance will be billed. In these cases there IS a charge for the consultation.

Lee Corbett, MD

All posts on this blog are presented by Louisville, KY Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Lee Corbett.

If Americans were concerned about Congress getting its grubby hands on their Medicare, wait till it touches their breast implants. Among the ways the Senate health care bill pays for itself is a 5 percent tax on elective cosmetic surgery like tummy tucks, face lifts, hair plugs, collagen injections, and any other nonrequired procedures—a proposal known as the “Botax.”

Plastic surgeons, like many of their patients, aren’t smiling. Industry groups like the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons have launched campaigns against the tax, arguing not only that it would hurt business during a recession—elective surgeries are down already—but that it doesn’t target the high rollers Congress is aiming for. Furthermore, says Big Knife, taxing cosmetic surgery could sag the economy as a whole, just when it needs a lift most. (The tax would raise an estimated $6 billion.)

The tax seems like an easy populist sell. One imagines the main clientele of plastic surgeons as the cast of the Real Housewives of New Jersey. But the tax isn’t as progressive as it sounds, say surgeons. According to a 2005 survey by the ASPS, one-third of people who get plastic surgery make less than $30,000 a year, 70 percent of clients make less than $60,000, 86 percent make less than $90,000, and only 13 percent make more than $90,000. (Of course, that survey was based on people planning to get elective surgery, not those who actually got it.) Indeed, cosmetic surgery is an industry supported largely by people who can’t afford it—a full 85 percent of operations are paid for using credit, according to Middlebury sociology professor Laurie Essig. As a result, the tax would hit low-income consumers especially hard.

This post was authored by Christopher Beam and found on MSNBC. The information in the story is right on.

Lee Corbett, MD


Probable tax on cosmetic surgery in the USA

Tucked away in the volumes of information on the overhaul of the US health and health insurance systems, is a measure to help pay for it all.

Cosmetic surgery procedures could be subject to a 10% tax. Doesn’t sound a lot does it?  Until you realize that the American cosmetic surgery industry is worth $10.3 billion a year, spent on 12.1 million plastic surgery operations. Despite early fears, all signs are that despite the economy, the number of cosmetic surgery operations is not reducing. Some people cynically suggest that more people are actually having surgery as if you look young you may keep your job.

Tax deductions are now allowed on reconstructive surgeries such as after a patient has recovered from cancer, and will not be taxed. However non-reconstructive surgeries, the vast majority of operations, would be subject to the new tax. The plan is to cover all procedures that are not currently tax deductible and are not commonly covered under standard health insurance policies.

Previous attempts to tax cosmetic surgery failed, but they were state taxes, the new one would be a federal one.

Would it apply to people coming to the USA for cosmetic surgery? This is not certain, but the argument goes something along the lines that if you can afford cosmetic surgery and can afford to travel to the USA, you can easily afford a small tax.

If it goes ahead, it would encourage Americans to look even more closely at traveling to Canada, the Caribbean or South America for cosmetic surgery.

As a Louisville, KY Plastic  Surgeon, I certainly hope this tax does not become a reality.
Lee Corbett, MD
This blog was copied and pasted from the internet.

This is one of the tricky areas of Louisville Cosmetic Surgery. Complications like bleeding problems or infection are rare after cosmetic surgery. The risks fall in the range of 1% or less for most procedures like Louisville Breast Augmentations, Louisville Liposuction, or Louisville Rhinoplasty.

But…the reality is these problems do occur and when they do a trip back to the Operating Room may be necessary. This brings the problem of money into the situation.

Most insurance companies will not pay for a complication that results directly from cosmetic surgery, like a bleed or infection at the surgical site. This is an issue that  I recommend all potential cosmetic surgery patients strongly consider. Chances are everything will turn out just fine, they almost always do, but someone out there is going to be that “1” when we tell you chances are “1 in a 1000”.

Lee Corbett, MD

All posts on this blog are presented by Louisville Plastic Surgery expert, Dr. Lee Corbett

Plastic Surgery is a very diverse field.

Most are familiar with the Cosmetic Surgery component. In Louisville Cosmetic Surgery is very popular. There are reality shows all over cable and articles about the topic in almost every woman’s magazine. But Plastic Surgeons do a lot of other things too.

Children: Plastic Surgeons deal with a number of issues involving kids. We are the ones who repair cleft lips and palates and skull malformations. We also treat birthmarks.

Burns: Plastic Surgeons typically man most Burn Units in conjunction with General Surgeons and Critical Care experts.

Hand: About half of all hand surgeons are Plastic Surgeons, the other half are Orthopedic Surgeons. We treat traumatic and congenital hand problems.

Head and Neck: Plastic Surgeons treat trauma and cancer affecting the head and neck.

Soft Tissue Loss: We are also experts at treating significant soft tissue deficits. Usually this is breast reconstruction following cancer, but we also reconstruct defects that occur all over the body that result from Trauma or Cancer.

Plastic Surgery is a huge field. Most Plastic Surgeons will narrow the scope of their practice simply because it is impossible to do it all.

Lee Corbett, MD

This is a touchy, but oft asked question I field as a Louisville Plastic Surgeon when patients are considering or are recovering  from surgery.

There are a few rules that apply.

First, after any surgical procedure there is the risk of unwanted bleeding. This is highest in the first 24 hours when 99% of bleeds occur, but the ptoential for bleeding lasts for as long as 2 weeks. So, my recommedation is to avoid any physical activity that increases your pulse and blood pressure during that time interval.

Second, and the most obvious, is comfort. A guideline I offer for all of my patients after any type of surgery is “If it hurts, quit doing it.” Add this one in there as well.

A third factor is based on what part of you we did surgery on. Obviously you will have more freedom if you had your upper eyelids done than if we did a tummy tuck, breast aug, or liposuction of your inner thigh area. Point here is we don’t want the operated area to be traumatized early on and potentially damage your incision or work done under the skin surface.

Those are the factors I consider and so my recommendation is that you give it at least two weeks to avoid bleeding. After that point, you can try things out and let your comfort be your guide. And remember, if it hurts, your body is sending you a message…so quit!

Lee Corbett, MD


My preference is a product called Scar Guard. I recommend it for breast, body and facial procedures.

First, though, understand that scar formation is normal. Once the skin is wounded, be it in surgery or by trauma, your body will start to make collagen in the wounded area to heal itself. This is 100% normal and natural. Collagen is a part of normal skin too but in a scar there are no hair follicles, sweat glands, or pores. This makes the scar look different from the skin around it. Since scar formation is inevitable, our goal is to minimize the amount of scar made.

Scar Guard is a liquid combination of three components known to help with scar formation: cortisone, Vitamin E, and silicone. By applying the product starting about 2 weeks after surgery, the hope is that the resulting scar will be as small as possible and match the surronding skin. This isn’t 100% possible but it is our goal.

Scar guard is a clear liquid that paints on with a small brush much like nail polish. You apply it over the scar and just let it dry. Typically you will want to use it for about 6 weeks.

Lee Corbett, MD


All posts on this blog are presented Louisville Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Lee Corbett.

Im my eleven years of plastic surgery in Lousville,  over the counter meds and supplements have become much more popular. In general, it’s best to stop taking all over the counter medications 2 weeks before surgery. There are a couple of reasons.

First, we don’t know what’s in a lot of the stuff that’s out there, especially the weight loss products and nutritional supplements. Most of the ingredients are probably OK, but sometimes there are ingredients that can result in dangerous swings in your blood pressure during anesthesia. This is especially true of the diet drugs. For this reason, your Anesthesiologist will probably cancel your surgery if you show up on diet drugs or supplements that don’t have a list of ingredients.

I also see a lot of folks who are taking “healthy” supplements like Vitamin E or Fish Oil. These are normally fine, but both can cause bleeding during surgery. The same is true for Aspirin, advil, motrin, alleve and these types of non-steroidal drugs.

The best thing to do when you have surgery upcoming is to make sure you let your doctor know everything you are taking. Don’t assume anything, it may result in your surgery being cancelled. And don’t just stop taking everything, your doctor may have you on aspirin for your heart. It may be that you can’t safely come off the aspirin!

As for prescription drugs, you must talk with your surgeon before altering your routine. Remember, when in doubt ask your doctor.

Lee Corbett, MD


All posts on this blog are authored by Louisville Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Lee Corbett. Dr. Corbett specializes in cosmetic plastic surgery including facelifts, browlifts, blepharoplasy, Botox, Juvederm, Restylane, breast augmentation, breast lifts, breast reductions, body lifts, liposuction,  and tummy tucks.