If a procedure is purely cosmetic and completely elective, chances are your insurance won't cover it. In some cases, if the treatment is necessary to fix extreme facial deformities or accidental injuries, you might be eligible for some coverage [source: AAFPRS].
Insurance companies may use definitions provided by the American Medical Association (AMA) to determine whether they will cover a particular procedure. The real question is whether the surgery is considered to be reconstructive or cosmetic. Reconstructive surgeries correct abnormalities that were caused by factors outside the patient's control, such as birth, disease or injury -- procedures needed for the body to function properly. However, if the surgery is not necessary, it's often considered to be cosmetic, or elective. In that case, companies deem that the patient is looking for improved appearance, not improved body function [source: Freedman].
There is no clear end-all definition. Insurance companies have the right to interpret the two terms as they see fit. In other words, a consumer might consider a procedure to be reconstructive, but an insurance company could insist that it is cosmetic. For example, if a person has a drooping eyelid, the insurance company will likely want to know from the plastic surgeon whether the eyelid problem results in reduced or distorted vision. If vision is impaired, the insurance company will probably cover the procedure to repair the eyelid. If the person sees just fine, the insurance company may refuse coverage. Insurance companies require extensive documentation from the physician on whether the procedure is reconstructive or cosmetic [source: Freedman].
Most laser skin resurfacing is considered to be cosmetic. If you want to find out more about whether insurance will cover your treatment, talk to your physician or his or her staff.
To learn more, visit the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- A Board Certified Plastic Surgeon (ABCPS). "Cost of Laser Skin Resurfacing." July 29, 2009. (Accessed 7/30/09) http://www.aboardcertifiedplasticsurgeonresource.com/laser_skin_resurfacing/costs.html
- The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS). "Facial Peels and Laser Surgery." (Accessed 7/30/2009) http://www.aafprs.org/patient/procedures/resurfacing.html
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). "Skin Rejuvenation and Resurfacing." (Accessed 7/20/09) http://www.plasticsurgery.org/Patients_and_Consumers/Procedures/Cosmetic_Procedures/Skin_Rejuvenation_and_Resurfacing.html
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPA). "2008 Plastic Surgery Procedural Statistics." (Accessed 8/20/2009)http://www.plasticsurgery.org/Media/Press_Kits/Procedural_Statistics.html
- DocShop. "Laser Skin Resurfacing Cost and Financing Information." (Accessed 7/21/09) http://www.DocShop/education/dermatology/facial/skin-resurfacing/cost-financing/
- Dowden, Richard V., MD. "Frequently Asked Questions about Laser Facelift." Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery, Inc. Jan. 1, 2009. (Accessed 7/30/2009)http://dr-dowden.com/main/lasefaqs.html
- Freedman, Skip. "More than Skin Deep." Plastic Surgery Practice. April 2005. (Accessed 7/30/2009)http://www.plasticsurgerypractice.com/issues/articles/2005-04_19.asp
- Goldman, Mitchel, M.D., reviewer. "Laser Skin Resurfacing." Consumer Guide to Plastic Surgery. April 2009. (Accessed 7/19/09)http://www.yourplasticsurgeryguide.com/laser-skin-procedures/laser-skin-resurfacing.htm
- Mann, Denise. "Facelifts: They're Back (And Better Than Ever)." Consumer Guide to Plastic Surgery. October 2008. (Accessed 7/30/2009)http://www.yourplasticsurgeryguide.com/face-lift/howperformed.htm
- Marchione, Marilyn. "Nation's First Face Transplant Shows Face." The Washington Post. May 6, 2009. (Accessed 8/19/2009)http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2009/05/06/ST2009050602195.html
- Mayo Clinic Staff. "Laser resurfacing." Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). May 23, 2009. (Accessed 7/30/2009)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/laser-resurfacing/MY00560
- Tanna, Neil, M.D., and Steven M. Hopping, M.D., FACS. "Skin Resurfacing: Laser Surgery." eMedicine from WebMD. March 21, 2008. (Accessed 7/20/09) http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/838501-overview