by Aidan Kang, CFA
Senior Writer
UPDATED: December 05, 2021

People who have lost significant weight can often face another problem: sagging or droopy skin. If that’s you, don’t despair – you can easily correct the problem with excess skin removal surgery, also known as a body lift.  

Skin removal surgery costs about $6,000 to $50,000, depending on your location and surgeon's qualification. 

This is pretty hefty, and you might have heard that insurance will not cover cosmetic surgery like body lifts. The truth is, insurance may cover it. But you must meet certain criteria, which we’ll go through in this article.

When Does Insurance Cover Skin Removal Surgery?

Insurance can cover skin removal surgery when it's medically necessary

Your surgeon should present evidence that loose skin in your body does the following:

  • Causes pain to your abdomen and back
  • Interferes with your personal hygiene
  • Forms abdominal pannus or excess skin hanging over your pubic region
  • Contributes to abscess or pus in the affected areas
  • Leads to skin issues like infections

Additionally, your doctor must argue that the body lift will improve your overall health and quality of life. For instance, your physician can state that loose skin affects the following daily tasks:

  • Exercising
  • Taking a shower
  • Walking

This form of discomfort and inconvenience can persuade an insurance provider to cover your surgery expenses. 

Besides that, there are additional weight-loss criteria you should meet to qualify for the procedure.We’ll cover these requirements in the “criteria for body lift coverage”section.

How much will insurance cover for a body lift? 

An insurance company can cover your body lifting surgery in full if you have a history of skin issues or irritation. 

Some government programs, such as Medicare, might offer partial coverage. 

In any case, you will have some out-of-pocket costs for your skin removal procedure.

The expenses will vary, depending on where you have excess skin. Here is a breakdown of the prices you can expect:

  • Lower belly: $6,000 to $15,000
  • Arm lift: $13,000 to $14,000
  • Breast lift: $11,500 to $12,500
  • Thigh lift: $13,000 to $21,000
  • Lower body lift: $7,900 to $8,000
  • Full body lift: $17,000 to $50,000

You might also incur the following additional costs:

  • Prescription expenses
  • Anesthesia fee
  • Hospital care

It's prudent to contact your insurance company beforehand to see how much it covers. Also, talk to your surgeon to come up with a personalized arrangement for you. Your doctor will examine you and compile a report after the consultation. This information can help an insurer authorize the operation and cater to the surgery bills.

Insurers That Cover Skin Removal Surgery

Here is a short list of insurers and insurance programs that can meet your expenses, provided the procedure is medically necessary:

  1. Medicare
  2. BCBS
  3. Medicaid
  4. Aetna

Really, any insurer could cover your skin removal surgery. It all depends on your policy and the case you make to your insurer. 

So your best move would be to speak with your agent and doctor about your chances. 

Insurer’s Criteria for Body Lift Coverage

Insurers also have criteria that you must have met subsequent to your weight loss. Medicare, for instance, requires you to satisfy the following conditions:

  • Lose at least 100 pounds. Your insurer can offer partial coverage for your skin removal surgery if you lose at least 100 pounds. At this point, you are an excellent candidate for a body lift. 
  • Have a stable weight. After weight loss, you might need to maintain it. Ideally, fluctuations could interfere with the outcome of the procedure. Your weight should be stable for 6 to 18 months, depending on the body lift procedure you need.
  • Had bariatric surgery. If you had gastric bypass at least one year ago, your insurer could cover surgery expenses. Essentially, you qualify for panniculectomy, which entails removing sagging skin on the lower abdomen. 
  • Have photo documentation. Many insurance companies need your photos to confirm the actual condition as your doctor claims. You can take pictures of the rashes, ulcers, or infections under the loose skin. Medical documents showing health changes you've embraced in the journey can give you an upper hand.
  • Recommendation from your doctor. Most importantly, your physician or doctor should recommend that you need a body lift for health benefits. This expert can state that you are suffering from abdominal and back pain due to sagging skin. Your doctor might explain to an insurer how skin removal can restore your physical activity and movement.

Bonus Tips to Get Covered

It's no secret that insurance companies might be hesitant if you don't meet the above criteria. However, you can make it clear to them that you've tried other measures, such as physical therapy and pain treatment. That way, an insurer can see a body lift as the last resort you need to enjoy excellent health.

In addition to that, you might need to avoid smoking and drinking excess alcohol. These practices might help you become the right candidate for skin removal.

Does Medicaid Cover Skin Removal Surgery?

Fortunately, Medicaid covers skin removal surgery on your abdomen. Also known as panniculectomy, Medicaid recognizes this operation as medically necessary. Your insurer will pay for the expenses if you have the necessary documentation. The images can help you prove the surgery is:

  • Reconstructive
  • Performed to alleviate symptoms
  • Essential to improve function

Therefore, you might need to work with an experienced surgeon to build a strong case. If you've used any medication or creams to get rid of skin infections, include that information in the report.

Additionally, you should be in excellent psychological and mental health. The recovery process can be emotional and long for some patients. If you have friends and family to support you, the results can be terrific.

Other Ways to Finance Skin Removal Surgery

In some cases, your insurance company won't pay for your body lift surgery. Thankfully, there are other ways to ensure you undergo skin removal without a hassle. You can consider third-party financing, provided they are trustworthy. Once you close the deal, the financial institution will help you deposit monthly payments.

Here is a list of reputable companies you can join forces to raise the amount needed:

  1. United Medical Credit
  2. CareCredit
  3. Point Loma Credit Union
  4. Alphaeon Credit
  5. Prosper Healthcare Lending
  6. LightStream
  7. SoFi

Keep in mind that your credit score plays a crucial role when seeking financing. Also, review interest rates before settling for a lender. You might need a cosigner when you choose CareCredit. Also, ensure you know the total amount you need for your body lift. Some organizations might not be able to lend you the full sum.

Besides medical credit and personal loans, you can finance skin removal surgery through:

  • Loans from friends and family
  • Crowdfunding
  • Gifts
  • Cash savings

Your doctor can create a payment plan that suits your needs and budget. If you decide to take a medical loan, shop around for discounts and favorable deals.

What are Alternatives to a Body Lift?

If you feel that the paying for skin removal surgery is beyond what you can afford right now, there are cheaper alternatives to a body lift such as the following. 

1. Laser treatment

Laser treatment stimulates your skin through heat, resulting in collagen production. Essentially, collagen helps tighten droopy skin in various areas of your body. The average cost is about $600 to $1,000.

2. Endermologie

It is a skin-firming method that optimizes a hand-held device. The gadget intensively massages your buttocks, thighs, and stomach to tone those areas. Endermologie works well for minimal loose skin. Expenses lie somewhere between $50 to $1,750.

3. Radiofrequency and infrared

Radiofrequency and infrared works like laser treatment. They boost collagen in your skin, leading to a toned body. This technique is viable with a small amount of sagging skin. The budget is around $1,000 to $4,000.

4. Diet and exercise

Organic foods, such as coconut, tomatoes, and cucumber, are rich in nutrients that increase skin elasticity. You can also try yeast extract, soy protein, and aloe vera because they promote collagen production. On the flip side, you might need to weight-train to tighten your skin. Professional weight-training costs about $40 to $70 per hour.

Final Thoughts

After weight loss, you might experience loose skin in your body. You can try body lift, which some insurance carriers cover. Fortunately, panniculectomy and breast reduction stand a high chance of getting covered. There are qualifying factors you should meet to enjoy the insurance. Other methods to finance your surgery include medical credit and cash savings. If you have a clean bill of health, you may be a better fit for skin removal surgery.