Wouldn’t it be nice if anytime you wanted to correct a problem area on your body you could simply call up your doctor and have it fixed, just like that? With plastic surgery, you can to a degree, however paying for that procedure is where the real challenge comes in. But while insurance plans won’t pay for a facelift or breast implants, there are a surprising number of plastic surgery procedures your insurance actually will pay for.
"One of the procedures patients are most surprised to hear is covered are breast reduction surgeries," said Dr. Ryan Mitchell of Henderson, Nevada.
According to Mitchell, breast reduction is often covered because these surgeries are often not simply a cosmetic procedure, but a medical procedure.
"Large or heavy breasts can often cause severe shoulder and back pain," said Mitchell. "Some women will come in and have welts on their shoulders from their bra straps. Others will simply have back aches because their center of gravity is pulling them forward. Undergoing breast reduction can help patients stand straighter, and can eliminate that painful back strain. Because it is a pain issue, breast reduction is often fully covered by some insurance plans."
As for men, Mitchell says male breast reduction surgery is often also covered for the same reason. Called gynecomastia, men with enlarged breasts often suffer from lower self-esteem, but they also may suffer some of the same side effects as women with larger breasts, including back aches and shoulder pain.
Another surprising procedure that may be covered by some insurance plans are eyelid surgeries known as blepharoplasties.
"Blepharoplasties can be done for cosmetic purposes, but we often see patients with drooping eyelids due to age that are unable to see properly without undergoing this type of surgery," Mitchell said. "Blepharoplasties open the eyes and make it easier for the patient to see and do everyday things they may not have been able to do in the past, such as drive, sew, or work on any type of detail oriented project that requires keen vision. You can even have 20/20 vision but still have reduced vision thanks to sagging eyelids."
Varicose veins are another troubling area that can be removed with some insurance plans. While most plans will not cover spider veins, varicose veins are actually quite different from spider veins.
"Whereas spider veins appear below the surface of the skin as deep blue, purple or red spiderlike lines, they pose no real threat," said Mitchell.
Varicose veins, on the other hand, are those large, bulging unsightly veins that stick out past the skin. Varicose veins are caused by a medical condition called venous insufficiency, which means that there is an inadequate amount of blood flowing through the varicose veins, causing blood to pool in the legs. This condition can be extremely dangerous, and thus may not be considered cosmetic by your insurance provider.
"The big takeaway here is don’t just think because you don’t like the way a part of your body looks, you should have to live with it," said Mitchell. "Some treatments may really be medically necessary, but you’d never know until you spoke to a surgeon about them."