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Financing cosmetic procedures: Breast implants

Bankrate logo Bankrate 8/5/2019 Raychelle Heath
a person standing in front of a window: Female doctor discusses something with young woman patient© asiseeit/Getty Images Female doctor discusses something with young woman patient

Augmentation mammoplasty, also known as breast augmentation, is a procedure that involves the insertion of a saline or silicone implant to increase the fullness of the breasts. The procedure can improve the symmetry of breasts and restore volume after pregnancy or weight loss.

People who seek out an augmentation mammoplasty are usually interested for cosmetic reasons. Though this procedure can also aid those who have had mastectomies to restore their breasts.

When it's carried out as a cosmetic procedure, insurance will not cover the cost. If you are interested in having this procedure done, you'll need to do some research to find the best option for you.

Costs related breast augmentation

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, as of 2018, the average cost of a breast augmentation started at $3,824 dollars, with a final total of up to $12,000. This fee does not include the type of breast implants used, anesthesia or operating facility costs.

The surgeon's level of expertise and the geographical location of the procedure greatly affect the cost. Other factors that make up the total cost are any necessary medical tests, post-surgery garments and medications.

Saline vs. silicone

Breast implants will vary in filling type, shape, texture and size.

The two fillings used for breast implants are saline and silicone. Saline implants are filled with sterile salt water, while silicone implants are filled with silicone gel. There is also a thicker kind of silicone implant called a "gummy bear" implant.

Both saline and silicone implants are FDA approved, though silicone implants will require additional regular visits to your surgeon to make sure they are working properly.

Saline and silicone implants are usually round, but gummy bear implants can be shaped differently. The size of the implant will be determined by how much filling is used and can range from 150cc to 800cc or larger. 150-200cc is usually considered mini or small and would correlate to the increase of one to one and a half cup sizes.

Implants can also be smooth or textured. Smooth implants are softer and have movement, while textured implants develop scar tissue making them less likely to move around in the breast implant pocket.

Because there is so much variety in breast implant types, it is very important to work with a qualified surgeon during your consultation to choose the best option for you

Breast augmentation vs. breast lift

A breast augmentation is a procedure meant to increase breast size and improve breast shape. A mastopexy or breast lift, on the other hand, removes excess skin and reshapes existing breast tissue to give a firmer, more lifted look to the breasts. The choice of one procedure over the other should come down to your desired results and your surgeon's recommendation.

The average cost of a breast lift, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, is $4,816, not including associated costs of the procedure. Once you factor in the cost of the surgeon's fees, medical facilities and other incidentals, a breast lift costs around the same amount as a breast augmentation.

Eligibility

Not everyone is eligible for a breast augmentation procedure. You may qualify if:

  • You are in good physical shape and mental health
  • Your breasts have reached their full development
  • The shape, volume or appearance of your breasts is displeasing to you
  • Your breasts are asymmetrical or have developed abnormally

During your consultation, your surgeon will ask for results of previous mammograms and biopsies. Most insurance plans will cover the cost of a mammogram. If your insurance doesn't cover mammograms or you don't have insurance, there are free or low-cost options out there. Mammogram costs vary depending on the type you get, but the average out-of-pocket cost ranges between $100 and $250.

Paying for the procedure

Payment options for augmentation mammoplasty will depend greatly on whether the procedure is cosmetic or medical.

If you are having breast implants after a mastectomy due to breast cancer, your insurance should cover it. Other medical conditions such as asymmetry are also usually covered. If you are having the procedure for cosmetic reasons, however, you'll likely have to cover the costs yourself.

Credit card

Check to see if the credit limit on your card will cover all or part of the procedure. Also be sure that the card you are using has a low interest rate.

If you are thinking of opening a new card to cover the procedure, look for one with a zero percent introductory offer. An added bonus to paying with a credit card is the possibility of getting cash back or rewards on your purchase. Become familiar with how your issuer categorizes medical procedures to see what you will get back using your card. Have a repayment plan in mind to make sure you keep your credit score and any debts in good standing.

Personal loan

Another option for paying for your breast augmentation is to take out a personal loan. A personal loan is an unsecured loan for a fixed amount, meant to help pay for a large purchase. Your credit score and annual income are the main determining factors for the interest rate on your loan. Personal loan rates can be as low as 5.95 percent if you have good to excellent credit.

Health insurance

Most health insurance plans will cover the cost of breast implants that are a part of a breast reconstruction. Breast implants after a mastectomy due to breast cancer are covered by the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act. This act mandates that insurers that offer mastectomy benefits offer coverage for reconstruction of the breasts removed by surgery and the implants themselves.

Another medical issue covered by most plans is Poland syndrome. In this case procedures are considered breast reconstruction, not breast augmentation. In general, health insurance does not cover breast augmentation.

Health savings account

A health savings account, also known as an HSA, is an account specifically designated for health care expenses on a pre-tax basis. These kinds of accounts are offered alongside a low-cost, high-deductible insurance plan. Breast reconstruction surgery is eligible for reimbursement through an HSA when it is part of breast cancer treatment. An HSA cannot be used for non-medically necessary cosmetic procedures.

Patient financing plan

Most doctors are willing to work with patients to create a payment plan for their augmentation mammoplasty.

One of the more commonly used financing tools is called CreditCare. CreditCare is a healthcare credit card accepted by over 200,000 healthcare providers in the US. You can check the online database to see if your surgeon accepts CreditCare. This service comes with a standard APR of around 26.99 percent, though rates vary between individual accounts.

Bottom line

Whether you're looking into breast augmentation for cosmetic reasons or medical necessity, it's important to do your research on surgeons in your area and available payment options. These procedures don't have to break the bank, but you should establish a solid payment plan in advance to help the process go as seamlessly as possible.

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