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When Does Medicare Cover Fat Removal?

4 min read

By Chris Brown

Fat removal is priority number one for a lot of Americans. Globally, it’s estimated that 45% of people are actively trying to lose weight. The numbers suggest that most have tried traditional methods, like exercise and cutting sugar, plenty of times too.

The national liposuction statistics share a similar trend. More than 211,067 Americans turned to cosmetic surgery for fat removal solutions in 2020 alone. In the United States, liposuction is the most common cosmetic surgery procedure for those aged 35 to 64. What most Americans don’t know is that, in some rare cases, the costly procedure can be fully covered by Medicare.

What is Liposuction?

The popular cosmetic fat reduction procedure is used to target and remove fat from specific areas of the body. Liposuction doesn’t improve a person’s ability to lose weight, but it can be effective when used in tandem with diet and exercise. Liposuction offers a fat reduction solution that targets the areas that don’t respond as well to more traditional weight loss techniques.

The most common liposuction targets include the:

  • Abdomen
  • Upper arms
  • Chin and neck
  • Chest and back
  • Hips and thighs
  • Calves and ankles

Liposuction was invented in 1974, but began surging in popularity in the early 80’s. Today, Americans can expect to spend a median cost of roughly $3,637 on the procedure, though costs are relative to the breadth of the procedure and where it’s being done.

What most people don’t know is that, in some rare cases, the popular fat reduction procedure can be covered by Medicare. Read ahead to learn more about Medicare’s role in fat removal.

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Medicare’s Role in Fat Removal

Medicare is a federal program that’s made up of multiple parts and, with a few notable exceptions, is used to provide Americans over the age of 65 with health insurance. Parts A, B, C, and D are available to most eligible Americans and offer a combination of base-line coverage and optional additional coverage.

So, where does liposuction come in? Medicare calls the popular fat removal procedure a cosmetic surgery. Which means that it’s not covered in most cases, however there are exceptions. If the fat removal procedure is necessary to treat an injury or repair a malformed body part to improve function, it may be covered by Medicare.

Medicare could provide coverage for fat removal to:

  • Reduce the amount of fat in those who are morbidly obese, to aid in another medical procedure.
  • Remove fat tissue from the breasts of those with gynecomastia.
  • Remove fat from lower limbs in patients to improve mobility in those with lipedema.
  • Remove non cancerous, fatty tissue called lipomas.
ImageFlow/Shutterstock

How to Get Coverage for Fat Removal

Securing Medicare coverage for fat removal procedures can come about a few different ways. The first step is reaching out to your Medicare-approved physician. They’ll need to submit a written request to your insurance provider that explains the importance of liposuction treatment.

Once that’s submitted, you’ll likely be required to pull together any additional medical information that is available that supports your case for Medicare covered fat removal.

If that fails, or you have additional questions, you can always contact Medicare directly. A Medicare representative is available over the phone or via email, and can prove to be a valuable resource on your hunt for additional information. Patients with Plan C, or Medicare Advantage coverage, should instead reach out to their plan’s provider to answer questions and inquire about next steps.

Irina Strelnikova/Shutterstock

Fat Reduction Alternatives

Liposuction is far from the only fat removal solution available to Medicare enrollees. Those that fail to secure Medicare coverage for the popular procedure may still qualify for aid. Talk to your doctor, connect with a Medicare representative, or consult with your insurance provider to explore alternative surgical procedures.

You might yet be eligible for Medicare coverage of non-surgical weight loss solutions. Many Medicare Advantage plans include fitness benefits, nutrition, therapy, and even some weight loss surgeries. All the more reason to continue searching online to learn more about the numerous options available to those currently receiving Medicare.

Natalia Lisovskaya/Shutterstock

You Can Lose Fat Too!

Reducing body fat for good, surgically or otherwise, is a process. Thankfully, it can be as simple as cell phone reminders to drink water, cutting back on sugar, policing your portion size, or getting more sleep. In truth, needs can vary substantially from person to person. Which is why it’s always wise to consult a professional for personalized advice.

Actively searching online can make a difference. Reading about new exercises, experimenting with new recipes, and interacting with others like you is all part of the process. Go easy on yourself, explore the vast selection of resources available to you, and stick with it.

Izf/Shutterstock

Writer, General Health

Chris is a Canadian who loves ice-hockey, espresso, and really long books. He’s an early riser that relies on a combination of meditation, yoga, indoor cycling, and long walks to keep fit. Chris is also a multi-platform content creator with a portfolio that includes terrestrial radio, television, the written word, and YouTube. For more content, check out his podcast, “Black Sheep Radio,” or follow @notTHATcb on Twitter and Instagram

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