Does Health Insurance Cover Excess Skin Removal?
Excess skin removal is typically not covered by health insurance. While your specific policy may have special coverage options, most health insurance companies view excess skin removal as a cosmetic procedure and do not include it in the scope of their plans.
Cosmetic procedures generally include surgeries or body contouring and enhancements that are done for cosmetic, rather than health, reasons. Even though excess skin may lead to health issues if not removed, the cost of the removal and any complications that may arise due to the removal procedure are not in the health insurance realm of coverage.
Why would someone have excess skin?
Excess skin can be a side effect of dramatic weight loss. The Cleveland Clinic says it typically occurs when people lose 100 pounds or more and can come into play after weight loss from either a change in diet and exercise habits or as the result of surgical procedures.
Excess skin is skin that has become stretched out and lost its elasticity due to being stretched for a lengthy period of time. The excess skin can hang down in weighty folds around various bodily areas where the weight was lost, resulting in discomfort and potential health risks.
What are the health risks of excess skin?
Excess skin can be detriment to your physical and psychological health. Physical issues include a loss or limitation of mobility due to the heavy flaps of skin that can get in the way of normal movement.
Getting dressed or finding clothing that can accommodate the excess skin can be difficult. It may also be difficult to clean beneath or around the excess skin, leading to issues with hygiene.
Rashes, sores, or other skin ailments can develop from the ongoing skin-to-skin contact. They, in turn, may result in infection and even more severe ailments.
On the psychological level, excess skin can be a detriment to appearance. This may especially come into play when people who have lost a lot of weight want to present a new image and find that image marred by folds of heavy, unwieldy skin that hangs from various areas around their body.
Where does excess skin usually cause the most problems?
Excess skin can cause problems wherever it exists, although areas that are hard to reach or most impede movement may be the most detrimental. On the other hand, excess skin that is readily visible, such as large folds around the face and neck, may cause the biggest problems for those who are wholly embarrassed by their new appearance.
Surgeries to remove excess skin can cover a number of body areas, with the Cleveland Clinic pointing out some of the most common. The face and neck can be a starting point for appearance’s sake, with more than one incision or procedure to remove and tighten skin in the neck and facial areas.
Skin removal from the abdominal area is another common procedure. It may include the tightening of the underlying abdominal muscles in the form of the so-called tummy tuck or it could focus on skin removal only.
Excess skin that hangs down from the arms is also common. This can be corrected with a procedure that involves an incision from the elbow to the armpit area.
Other areas that may harbor excess skin include the upper thighs, mid-thighs, buttocks, and breast area. Often, more than one area may need surgery to remove the full extent of excess skin around the body.
What if my insurance won’t cover excess skin removal?
Living with the excess skin is always an option, although it may not be the healthiest or most comfortable one. Your other choice is to pay for the procedure out of your own pocket. Because the procedures come with various risks and potential complications and can be costly, thinking long and hard before undergoing them is a must.
The Cleveland Clinic explains that excess skin removal procedures are not necessarily the right path for everyone and offers some tips on discerning if you are a viable candidate. To even consider the procedures, the clinic says your weight should be the same for at least two years and you should not be expecting to lose or gain additional weight. The two-year waiting period gives the skin a chance to shrink back into place naturally and for your body to be stabilized with its new weight.
Eating a healthy diet and having overall good health are other musts before considering the procedure. Nutritional deficiencies can impede healing time after a procedure. Poor health or various health conditions, such as heart disease or other chronic ailments, can increase your risks of surgery complications.
Two more requirements noted by the Cleveland Clinic include realistic expectations and a good amount of mental stamina. Your mind needs to be prepared for the challenges your surgery and recovery period will bring. You also need to adjust your expectations to realize you will not have the same body you had prior to the weight gain and loss.
While removing excess skin can help you look and feel better overall, it is not a magical restoration. Your skin will also continue to wrinkle and sag as you age, regardless of how many procedures you may have.