The number of Americans undergoing breast enhancement procedures, which make it possible for patients to modify the shape and size of their breasts, continues to grow in the United States. Two of the areas experiencing a spike in demand since recent years are surgeries for breast reduction and breast augmentation.
In breast reduction surgery, the surgeon reshapes and lifts a patient's breasts by eliminating excess tissue from the latter. This procedure results in smaller and less voluminous breasts that are proportional to the patient's body and leads to an elimination of the physical discomfort and emotional hardship suffered by some women.
Breast reduction surgery alleviates the medical problems often associated with oversized breasts such as
- Breathing difficulties
- Chronic headaches
- Deformities of the neck and back
- Indentations in the shoulder
- Neck, shoulder, and back pain
- Skin irritation
It also enables women to enjoy a wider range of physical activities and to lead a more active life. Most breast reduction surgeries are undertaken for relief of physical symptoms rather than for esthetical reasons.
Average Breast Reduction Cost
Typically, the cost of breast reduction in the U.S. ranges from $5,000 to $11,000, with the average price standing at $7,500. Three of the leading factors that play a role in computing the final price of this procedure are:
- The plastic surgeon's fee
- The surgical facility or hospital fee
- The anesthesia fee
Hospital or facility fees are usually anywhere from $500 to $2000, and anesthesia costs tend to be between $1,000 and $1,500. Breast reductions performed at a physician's surgical suite are less costly than those carried out in hospitals.
This fee usually hinges upon the surgeon's qualifications and the complexity of the procedure. For instance, the reduction of excessively large breasts commands a higher fee because it necessitates extra surgical work for removal of excess fat as well as restructuring and repositioning of the nipple area. For an accurate price quote, patients should schedule a consultation with a plastic surgeon who will evaluate their breast size and propose a surgical plan. Surgeons who are board-certified and boast high-level training and substantial experience charge more.
Other Pricing Factors
Patients should also factor in the cost of medical tests, pain medication, as well as post-surgery breast compresses and bras (i.e. approximately $25 and $100 each, respectively). Cost also differs depending on geographic location, with the least costly procedures available in the southern and central states and the more pricey ones taking place on the west coast and Northeast, where demand is higher. Patients who request more than one cosmetic surgery at the same time will pay less than if the surgeries were performed individually. Oftentimes, plastic surgery centers will offer discounts to patients who authorize them to utilize before and after photos of them in the former's marketing campaign or on their website.
Coverage for Medical Reasons
If the breast reduction surgery is performed for functional reasons, as opposed to cosmetic ones, insurance companies will cover its cost. Since most mammaplasty or breast reduction procedures are undertaken to rectify health issues and are "medically necessary", insurers usually provide coverage. As a general rule, to obtain coverage or reimbursement from their insurance provider, patients will be required to furnish one or a combination of the following: 1) photos attesting to the need for the surgery, 2) a referral from their general practitioner, and 3) a letter from their plastic surgeon stating the reason for the procedure. A number of providers characterize breast reduction surgery as reconstructive when a specific amount of glandular fat is removed. Pre-qualification often requires that the physician show that:
- A minimum of 1/2 of a pound or 500 grams can be removed from each of the patient's breasts
- The size of the patient's breasts is the direct cause of his or her disabling symptoms
- The patient has exhausted all remedies in attempting to address the symptoms associated with her oversized breasts
Since policies vary from one insurance provider to the next, consumers should carefully review the language of the policies and contact the companies to ascertain whether full or partial coverage is offered.
Financing Breast Reduction Surgery
Women contemplating mammaplasty but lack partial or full insurance coverage will be pleased to know that the majority of plastic surgeons offer monthly payment or installment plans. The amount of the monthly payment is determined by
Medical finance companies also extend credit, making breast reduction surgery affordable. These provide a network of participating surgeons, and many allow consumers to select their own surgeon.
[page updated December 2008]