The Complete Financial Guide to Excess Skin Removal Surgery

Person measuring their waist
| 8 min read Financial Assistance

There’s so much to celebrate after a serious weight loss journey—newfound health, confidence, and a dramatically different lifestyle. But even after working hard at losing weight, pounds and pounds of heavy skin can stick around and cause both physical and psychological pain. Thankfully, excess skin removal surgery can eliminate 15 pounds or more of weight and help you conquer all of your weight loss goals. Below, find out how to get skin removal surgery covered by insurance, as well as other ideas to pay for the expensive procedure.

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What is excess skin removal surgery?

Excess skin removal surgery involves various body contouring procedures which include lower and upper body lifts, thigh and buttock lift, panniculectomy, and more. These procedures are performed after major weight loss to target the extra skin folds on the body such as the legs, stomach, and arms. Eliminating extra skin after weight loss can improve your comfort and the way clothes fit on your body, as well as make exercising easier.

Facts to know about excess skin removal

  • Surgeons have been removing skin and fat since the turn of the century, while liposuction and muscle shaping were introduced in the 1950s and 1960s.
  • More than 97,000 abdominoplasty surgeries and more than 8,000 lower body lifts were performed in 2020.
  • Nearly 7 million reconstructive surgeries were performed in 2020.
  • Tummy tuck recovery is different for every person. In general, you’ll have to avoid arduous physical activity for four to six weeks.
  • Qualified surgeons will not perform any type of body contouring surgery unless you have maintained a stable weight for at least three to six months.

What to expect before and during excess skin removal surgery

Before getting excess skin removal surgery, you’ll receive recommendations from your doctor. Those recommendations may include not taking certain medications that increase the risk of bleeding such as NSAIDs, not taking vitamins or supplements, quitting smoking or tobacco, and getting blood work done.

Oftentimes, excess skin removal surgery happens in phases. This means that you may require more than one surgery. Particular excess skin removal procedures can happen at the same time, such as a tummy tuck in combination with a lower body lift. Surgery may be done at a hospital and you might have to stay overnight. Or, your surgery may be done at a surgical facility and you’ll be able to leave the same day. The location of your surgery and the length of stay all depend on the procedures you’re getting.

How much does skin removal surgery cost?

So, how much is skin removal surgery? There are quite a few factors that affect the cost of skin removal surgery, but the most common are geographic location, the experience level of the surgeon, and your specific needs. When it comes to skin removal surgery, also known as body contouring surgery, there are a number of different procedures you can choose from, all with different price tags.

An abdominoplasty is one of the most common types of body contouring surgeries, which will remove excess skin and fat from the abdominal area and tighten muscles. A panniculectomy, which will only remove excess skin, is also a very common surgery people undergo after extreme weight loss.

Excess skin removal surgery costs

Exactly how much does skin removal surgery after weight loss cost? These are the average costs for the most common plastic surgeries for loose skin after weight loss, according to the 2020 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report:

  • Panniculectomy: $8,000-$15,000
  • Lower body lift: $7,924
  • Upper arm lift: $4,861
  • Thigh lift: $5,355
  • Breast lift: $5,012

Other costs

  • Anesthesia fee
  • Facility and material costs
  • Prescription costs

3 ideas for how to pay for skin removal surgery 

Any type of surgery is never cheap, but there are several ways to save money, or even get your surgery paid for in full. Below are the top ways to pay for surgery.

1. Use insurance

Understanding how to get insurance to cover skin removal surgery isn’t always straightforward. Not every insurance company will pay for this type of surgery, but it might be possible to get all or some of it covered if your doctor can make an argument that this surgery will improve your health and quality of life.

Talk to your doctor

Wondering how to get skin removal surgery covered by insurance? You’ll need to prove that your surgery is medically necessary in order for your insurance company to pay for it, so you’ll want to first speak with your doctor. Begin documenting all the steps you’ve taken to overcome your medical issues so that your doctor can understand that surgery is truly a last resort.

Your doctor will need to provide a record that states your excess skin has caused skin rashes or skin ulcers, back problems, or is generally inhibiting you from participating in normal, daily activities.

Decide which type of surgery is best

Most insurance companies consider an abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, a cosmetic procedure and will not cover it. On the other hand, a panniculectomy is usually labeled as a reconstructive procedure, which insurance companies are more likely to pay for. Speak with your doctor about which type of surgery is best for your needs, taking into consideration what your insurance company is most likely to cover.

Work with your insurance company

Find out your summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) to understand if you’ve met your deductible or out-of-pocket maximum, and if your insurance will pay for all or a portion of the surgery. Have the correct insurance code for your surgical procedure handy so there’s no confusion about the procedure you’re asking about.

2. Bundle surgeries and pay in cash

Even if your insurance company will pay for your surgery, it’s sometimes more cost-efficient to pay out of pocket if you have a high deductible plan. Paying in cash is also another way to save, as many hospitals and plastic surgery clinics offer small 5-10% cash discounts for paying in cash upfront. Many clinics also offer discounts if you get more than one procedure done at the same time.

3. Give crowdfunding a try

Thousands of people have turned to crowdfunding to get help paying for out of pocket medical expenses or to avoid medical bankruptcy. When insurance coverage fails or you need to raise funds quickly, crowdfunding can be a lifeline.

It’s natural to worry about the shame or embarrassment you might feel after sharing your weight loss story publicly and asking for financial support. But if you’ve worked hard to shed extra weight and live a healthier life, you’ll likely find that your family and friends will be excited to support you through this final leg of your weight loss journey.

Skin removal success stories on GoFundMe

These are just a few people who asked their networks to help them pay for skin removal surgery and received an outpouring of support:

Miss_itty_britty skin removal fund

At 23 years old, Brittany embarked on an incredible weight loss journey that changed her life. But after losing over 300 pounds, she was left with folds of extra skin that caused her pain, discomfort, and limited her ability to lead a fulfilling life. After her claims for insurance coverage were denied, Brittany turned to crowdfunding and raised over $11,500 to remove her excess skin.

Jesse’s excess skin removal surgery

Jesse weighed 700 pounds and hadn’t left his house in years when he came across a bodybuilding website that sparked something in him. He decided to change his life and lost nearly 400 pounds. The quick and dramatic weight loss left him with pounds of excess skin that caused pain when exercising and gave him serious rashes. Unable to afford the $20,000 surgery, Jesse launched an online fundraiser and smashed his goal, raising $20,755 for the life-changing procedure.

Help Casey fund his skin removal surgery

Casey was on the show My 600-Lb Life and has lost over 595 pounds, but he now wants to take the next step in getting all of his excess skin removed. Ethan started a GoFundMe on Casey’s behalf and has raised over $18,000 to help Casey with the cost of skin removal surgery.

Find financial relief for weight loss surgery today

You’ve worked hard to lose weight and get healthy—and you deserve to feel confident and healthy in your new body. If you don’t know how to pay for your skin removal procedure, GoFundMe can help. You can create a fundraiser in minutes, and our sharing tools make it simple to reach out to your network. Sign up today and complete the final step of your weight loss journey.

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Written by Brittany Armas

I believe we all have the power to make a difference. Through informative and heartfelt content, I hope to create change and inspire others to give back to those who need it most.