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Important Considerations

What are the risks of cosmetic surgery?

Although many types of cosmetic surgery have very few risks, no procedure is risk-free. The risks vary according to your health and the type of procedure being done. They can range from slight scarring to infection and even death. Serious complications are rare, but they can occur.

It is possible that you may be putting your health and life at unnecessary risk when you have cosmetic surgery. It's important to weigh the risks against the possible benefits.

The other major risks of cosmetic surgery are that it may not produce the changes you want and that it may produce changes that leave you even more unhappy than you were before. Additional treatment may be needed to correct the results of the initial surgery. But the results of cosmetic surgery are often irreversible.

Who pays for cosmetic surgery?

Insurance rarely covers the cost of elective cosmetic surgery done to improve appearance. Reconstructive surgery may be covered if it will improve your physical function or will correct a problem present from birth (congenital) or caused by an accident. But unless cosmetic surgery is done for medical reasons, you will probably have to pay for it yourself.

Examples of cosmetic surgery done for medical reasons that may be covered (or partially covered) by insurance include:

  • Treatment of severe scars or disfigurement caused by disease, injury, or birth defects.
  • Fixing ears that stick out too far.
  • Breast reduction when large breasts cause pain or severely limit a woman's activities.
  • Breast reduction of large breasts in men.
  • Reshaping of the nose (rhinoplasty) to improve breathing and nasal function.
  • Breast reconstruction after surgery to remove breast cancer (mastectomy).

Cosmetic surgery can be quite expensive, especially when you are paying for all of it out of your own pocket. Be sure that you know the total cost of the surgery, including the costs of the procedure itself (such as surgeon fees, anesthesia fees, and operating facility fees), any medicine before or after the procedure, follow-up treatments, office visits, and other expenses.

Also be prepared to cover costs resulting from complications during or after surgery or the need for "touch-up" surgery. Insurance may not cover treatment for complications that arise from cosmetic surgery. Some procedures, including skin treatments, liposuction, and breast enlargement, may have to be repeated as time goes by, to maintain the results. You will have to pay for these repeated treatments just as you paid for the initial treatment.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

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