Q: Dr. Eppley, I have been insecure about my body ever since I was in first grade and was made fun of for my build, weight, and lack of breasts. I want a surgery done involving chin tuck, tummy tuck, possible liposuction and rib removal; for I have too short of a torso to have curves and it bothers me. Another struggle is I am covered by Medicaid because my family can’t afford regular insurance or hospital visits. Is there anything that can be done, or anyone I can be referred to?
A: While I can empathize with your body concerns, the reality is that cosmetic surgery is not covered by any form of insurance, Medicaid or otherwise. There are no justifiable medical reasons for your body change requests, regardless of the psychological or physical symptoms that they may create. Also there are no referral places for free or substantially reduced costs for cosmetic surgery procedures even at a local University or large medical center. Plastic surgeons have costs no matter where they are located, some of which they have no control over (operating room, anesthesia) and significant liability exposures. Thus the hard reality is that the barrier for you having cosmetic surgery is an economic one.
On a more instructive note, the one suggestion that I do have is that you pick one procedure (since you can’t afford them all) and the one that is the most important to you. In other words, if you could only have one plastic surgery procedure ever in your lifetime, what would it be? Then with that one procedure in mind, reach out to plastic surgeons and see if you can find someone who will do the procedure for you at a negotiated rate that you can afford. Most plastic surgeons are extremely compassionate and have done a lot of ‘community work’ in their practices over the years. If you approach your desire for cosmetic surgery this way, you are likely to be far more successful.
Dr. Barry Eppley