Cosmetic Procedures and Insurance: What’s Covered and What’s Not 

It’s no surprise most medical insurance carriers do not cover the costs of most cosmetic procedures. However, there are a few exceptions where patients can get their “cosmetic” procedures either partially or fully covered if it can be proven their health and/or life depends on it. 

Getting a major medical insurance provider to cover the costs of certain cosmetic procedures that may otherwise be performed for non-essential reasons, poses a significant hurdle. When people think of plastic surgery procedures that are covered by insurance, they are usually referring to reconstructive surgeries such as those for breast cancer patients or congenital deformities. Insurance companies will not cover procedures considered “cosmetic,” but not all plastic surgeries are “cosmetic.” In other words, not all cosmetic procedures are created equal when it comes to obtaining insurance coverage. If a physician can effectively demonstrate to an insurance company that a patient’s quality of health or life is contingent on them receiving a particular cosmetic procedure, it significantly heightens the likelihood that the insurance company will provide coverage, albeit possibly with certain conditions or partial reimbursement. In this case, the “cosmetic” procedure becomes a medical necessity. Keep in mind, it can be a painstaking process making the case for getting a cosmetic procedure covered. In some instances, patients can get their Botox treatments covered if they experience an “X” number of migraines in a month and/or when other less aggressive treatments have proved futile. It may take time and effort, but with the proper documentation – and a lot of patience – patients can see some of the most common cosmetic procedures get covered by their insurance companies. Two of the most common cosmetic procedures Dr. Johnson Lee performs covered by some insurance companies are breast reduction surgery and gender-affirming surgery. 

Insurance Coverage for Breast Reduction 

Insurance coverage for breast reduction surgery can vary depending on the individual’s circumstances and insurance provider. In many cases, insurance companies may cover breast reduction surgery if it is deemed medically necessary to alleviate symptoms such as chronic back, neck, or shoulder pain, skin irritation, or difficulty with physical activity due to excessively large breasts. However, the criteria for coverage often involve meeting specific guidelines, such as documented attempts at conservative treatments like physical therapy or alternative pain management methods. Additionally, insurance companies may require documentation of the severity of symptoms and the recommendation of a healthcare provider before approving coverage for breast reduction surgery. It’s essential for individuals considering breast reduction surgery to review their insurance policy, understand the coverage criteria, and work closely with Dr. Johnson Lee’s team of insurance professionals to navigate the insurance approval process effectively. 

Dr. Lee specializes in personalized reduction mammoplasty procedures, prioritizing both physical well-being and aesthetic balance. Employing meticulous techniques, Dr. Lee strategically places incisions around the nipple and areola, extending vertically to the breast crease, with additional incisions as needed for larger breasts. Through expertise and precision, Dr. Lee ensures the preservation of nipple blood supply and sensation in the breast area whenever possible. Individuals exploring breast reduction surgery can enhance their journey by understanding insurance criteria and collaborating closely with Dr. Johnson Lee’s team to achieve the desired results. 

Insurance Coverage for Gender-affirming Surgery for Transgender Individuals 

Gender-affirming care, which encompasses gender-affirming surgery, is more frequently being included in the coverage provided by many major insurance companies. Whether individuals are seeking to transition from their assigned biological sex to another or identify as non-binary, those pursuing gender-affirming surgery have often faced challenges associated with gender dysphoria at various points in their lives. 

According to Mayo Clinic, gender dysphoria is classified as the feeling of dissociation or distress in people whose gender identity doesn’t align with that of the sex they were born with. Many individuals experiencing gender dysphoria describe a profound sense of incongruence between their assigned sex at birth and their gender identity. While the precise origins of gender dysphoria remain a subject of ongoing research, experts speculate that a combination of prenatal hormone exposure, genetic predispositions, and societal influences may contribute to its development. Coping with gender dysphoria, whether in the short or long term, can have significant impacts on mental well-being. Individuals may encounter challenges such as depression, anxiety, disordered eating, feelings of social isolation, and, tragically, heightened suicide risk. However, with appropriate support and access to gender-affirming care, many individuals find relief and empowerment in aligning their gender identity with their authentic selves. Fortunately, gender-affirming surgery has been shown to help patients finally realize a truly harmonious life where their gender identity and sex are finally aligned, and tout high success rates where patients are very satisfied with their decision to “transition.” 

The good news is nearly every major insurance company in the United States now acknowledges the medical necessity of transgender-related care, explicitly gender-affirming surgery. To be considered for receiving full coverage costs, letters of recommendation will need to be submitted by the patient’s healthcare provider, specifically a board-certified psychiatrist or psychologist specializing in transgenderism healthcare. Typically, submission of a letter for facial surgery, a letter for top surgery, and two letters for bottom surgery are standard before determination of coverage can be assessed. Coverages and requirements may vary state-to-state, though most insurance companies operating in the state of California will cover the cost of the surgery and co-payments will be the only financial responsibility of the patient. 

As with any surgery or medical procedure, be sure to contact your insurance company for details before scheduling your gender-affirming surgery or breast reconstruction surgery. Oftentimes, there are many hoops to jump through before final coverage costs are determined. This can take months. Dr. Johnson Lee’s office is here to help. 


Dr. Johnson Lee is proud to announce his renowned Beverly Hills plastic surgery practice is in-network with Blue Shield for gender-affirming surgeries. Dr. Johnson Lee specializes in gender-affirming surgeries for individuals of all gender identities, including those transitioning to male or female, and offers expertise in facial surgeries as part of their comprehensive care. His meticulous attention-to-detail,

advanced expertise of sexual anatomy and characteristics, and individualized approach to helping transgender individuals achieve a look congruent with their natural characteristics is what puts Dr. Lee at the forefront of this rapidly evolving cosmetic movement. His skilled team of insurance experts can help you with everything needed to get started in obtaining coverage costs for your upcoming procedure(s). We invite you to fill out the form below or call our Beverly Hills office and make an appointment to speak with someone from our staff today.

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