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Cosmetic Surgery vs. Reconstructive Surgery

Section: Surgery
Effective Date: November 01, 2019
Revised Date: October 16, 2019
Last Reviewed: September 26, 2019

Description

Cosmetic surgery is performed to reshape normal structures of the body in order to improve the individual’s appearance.

Reconstructive surgery is performed to improve or restore functional impairment or to alleviate pain and physical discomfort resulting from a condition, disease, illness, or congenital birth defect.

This policy is designed to address medical guidelines that are appropriate for the majority of individuals with a particular disease, illness, or condition. Each person’s unique clinical circumstances may warrant individual consideration, based on review of applicable medical records.

Criteria

Coverage is subject to the specific terms of the member’s benefit plan.

Abdominoplasty, Panniculectomy (Tummy Tuck) may be considered medically necessary when ALL of the following criteria are met:

  • Preoperative photographs document that the panniculus or fold hangs at or below the level of the symphysis pubis; and
  • The medical records document that the panniculus or fold causes chronic intertrigo (dermatitis occurring on opposed surfaces of the skin, skin irritation, infection or chafing) that consistently recurs or remains refractory to appropriate medical therapy (including appropriate prescription medications) over a period of three (3) months.

Note: The patient must be 18 months postoperative following bariatric surgery.

Abdominoplasty and/or panniculectomy are considered cosmetic and, therefore, non-covered for all other indications.

Procedure Codes

158301584717999

Blepharoplasty, Brow lift, and Blepharoptosis may be considered medically necessary for ANY of the following conditions:

  • The upper eyelid margin within 2.0 mm (1/4 of the diameter of the visible iris) of the corneal light reflex (MRD less than 2.0 mm), with patient in primary gaze; or
  • The upper eyelid skin rests on the eyelashes; or
  • The upper eyelid indicates the presence of dermatitis; or
  • The upper eyelid position contributes to difficulty tolerating a prosthesis in an ophthalmic socket; or
  • The brow position is below the superior orbital rim; or
  • Entropian (eyelashes turning under);

AND

When ALL of the following criteria are met:

  • The impairment is required to be documented by preoperative photographs that must be available upon request. Photographs must include one view of the patient in primary position, one view looking up and one looking down and demonstrate the following:
    • Photographs of the individual looking straight ahead must demonstrate:
      • The eyelid at or below the upper edge of the pupil; or
      • The margin reflex difference (distance from the upper lid margin to the reflected corneal light reflex at normal gaze) of 2 mm or less with the eyes in a straight gaze; or
      • Redundant eyelid tissue overhanging the upper eyelid margin and/or resting on the eyelashes; or
      • Photographs show the eyebrow below the supra-orbital rim; or
    • If both a blepharoplasty and ptosis repair are requested, two sets of photographs may be necessary to demonstrate the need for both procedures:
      • Photographs should show the excess skin above the eye resting on the eyelashes; and
      • Photographs should show persistence of lid lag, with the upper eyelid crossing or slightly above the pupil margin, despite lifting the excess skin above the eye off of the eyelids with tape.
    • If blepharoplasty, blepharoptosis repair, and brow ptosis repair are requested together, three sets of photographs may be necessary; and
  • An automated visual field study was done except for upper eyelid dermatitis, ocular prosthesis problem, and entropian and results interpreted by the provider for the following functional deficits:
    • Visual impairment due to dermatochalasis when the upper eyelid margin is within 2.0 mm (1/4 of the diameter of the visible iris) of the corneal light reflex (MRD less than or equal to 2.0 mm), with patient in primary gaze; or
    • The brow position is below the superior orbital rim; and
  • A statement is submitted from the provider regarding the visual field study with documentation of taped and untaped automated visual field testing confirming that the visual deficit shown by the study is caused by the eyelid’s condition and that the proposed surgery is being performed in an attempt to correct the visual deficit.

Blepharoplasty, lower lid may be considered medically necessary for reconstructive repair where there is functional visual impairment due to ANY ONE of the following conditions:

  • Ectropion, entropion, or epiblepharon repair for corneal and/ or conjunctival injury; or
  • Disease due to ectropion, entropion, trichiasis, or epiblepharon; or
  • Poor eyelid tone (with or without entropion) that causes lid retraction and/or exposure; or
  • Keratoconjunctivitis often resulting in epiphora; or
  • Lower eyelid edema due to a metabolic or inflammatory disorder when the edema is causing a persistent visual impairment (e.g., secondary to systemic
    corticosteroid therapy, myxedema, Grave’s disease, nephrotic syndrome) and is unresponsive to conservative medical management;

AND

  • The impairment is required to be documented by preoperative photographs that must be available upon request. Photographs must include one view looking up and one looking down and demonstrate the functional deficit; and
  • Functional impairment including BOTH of the following:
    • Documented uncontrolled tearing or irritation; and
    • Conservative treatments tried and failed.

Note: When the physician has determined that the patient requires a bilateral blepharoplasty, bilateral blepharoptosis repair or a bilateral brow ptosis repair, it is
expected that the procedures will be performed on the same date of service. Bilateral procedures performed on different dates of service require the submission of medical record documentation to support the medical necessity of performing these procedures on different dates of service.

Blepharoplasty, brow lift, and blepharoptosis are considered cosmetic and, therefore, non-covered when the above medical necessity is not met.

Procedure Codes

15820158211582215823679006790167902
679036790467906679086790967911

Canthopexy may be considered medically necessary when performed for ANY ONE of the following conditions:

  • Presence of corneal or conjunctival staining; or
  • Mucous membrane changes; or
  • Documentation of epiphora and poor closure of the lids; or
  • Entropion; or
  • Ectropion; or
  • Bell’s palsy; or
  • Dermatochalasis.

Canthopexy is considered cosmetic and, therefore, non-covered when the above medical necessity is not met.

Procedure Codes

2128021282

Reduction mammoplasty/breast reduction may be considered medically necessary when ALL of the following criteria are met:

Reduction mammaplasty may be considered medically necessary when clinical documentation shows at least 2 of the following symptoms:

  • Muscle strain, such as backache, neck pain, shoulder pain, headache, and/or upper extremity peripheral neuropathy
  • Postural change with a tendency toward dorsal kyphosis
  • Problems associated with breast weight and brassiere support, such as clavicular bra strap grooves
  • Hygiene problems, such as intertrigo or exacerbation of acne and hidradenitis suppurativa
  • Limitations of normal activity, such as inability to participate in exercise and sports
  • Difficulty sleeping or breathing due to weight of the breasts

Reduction mammoplasty/breast reduction are considered cosmetic and, therefore, non-covered when the above medical necessity is not met.

The written request must include:

  • A summary of the history and physical examination of the patient
    • The physical examination should document the diagnosis of symptomatic breast hypertrophy based on the symptomatology. The diagnosis of breast hypertrophy involves a comparison of overall body stature with breast size as determined by the relative volume of breast tissue.
    • The breast should be free of evidence of breast cancer and any physical abnormality should be appropriately evaluated prior to surgery.
    • The symptoms of female symptomatic breast hypertrophy and their frequency can be quantified using validated, structured questionnaires that encompass both physical and psychosocial symptoms.
  • Estimation of breast tissue to be removed

 

Benefits for reduction mammoplasty following contralateral mastectomy will be allowed as part of a reconstructive sequence to achieve symmetry.  Precertification is not necessary nor is a minimum number of grams required.

Procedure Codes

19318 19499

Augmentation mammoplasty may be considered medically necessary when ANY of the following criteria are met:

  • When unilateral breast aplasia is present; or
  • Following extirpative surgery for benign disease (e.g., subcutaneous mastectomy with either immediate or delayed [second stage] prosthesis); or
  • When a reconstructive procedure is performed following previous radical surgery for malignant disease.

Augmentation mammoplasty is considered cosmetic and, therefore, non-covered when the above medical necessity is not met.

Note: Surgery on an unaffected breast in order to provide symmetry with a breast on which a mastectomy and reconstructive procedure have been performed may be considered medically necessary.

Charges for implantable breast prosthesis are eligible when the implant is provided in conjunction with a reconstructive augmentation mammoplasty. However, if
the augmentation mammoplasty is classified as cosmetic, charges for the implant will be denied as cosmetic.

  • When breast hypoplasia (affected breast) is associated with Poland’s syndrome.

Procedure Codes

19324 19325 19499 L8600

Nipple tattooing may be considered medically necessary when ANY of the following criteria are met:

  • When performed as part of a reconstructive procedure following radical surgery (e.g., mastectomy for benign or malignant disease); or
  • When performed following an injury (e.g., burn).

Nipple tattooing are considered cosmetic and, therefore, non-covered for any other indication.

Procedure Codes

11920 11921 19350 19499

Correction of inverted nipples may be considered medically necessary when performed in an attempt to restore the ability to breast feed.

Correction of inverted nipples are considered cosmetic and, therefore, non-covered for any other indication.

Procedure Codes

19355

Mastectomy for gynecomastia
Mastectomy for gynecomastia is considered reconstructive when ALL of the following criteria are met:

  • The patient meets the criteria for Grade II, III, or IV; and
  • One of the following:
    • For boys 16, 17, and 18 years old, whose body mass index (BMI) is less than the 75th percentile for age; i.e., a BMI of 22.7 for age 16, a BMI of 23.4 for age 17, and a BMI of 24.1 for age 18; or
    • For men over age 18, and a BMI of ≤ 25; and
  • When pathologic gynecomastia (e.g., hypogonadism, endocrine disorders, metabolic disorders, neoplasms, and male breast cancer) and pharmacologic gynecomastia (i.e., gynecomastia induced by pharmacological agents, including but not limited to, cimetidine, digitalis, methadone, marijuana, clomiphene, chemotherapeutic agents, anti-retroviral agents, herbal remedies, chlorpromazine, and anabolic steroids) have been excluded.

If the above criteria are not met, services may be considered medically necessary when it is documented that the tissue is primarily breast tissue, by pathology
report, and not just adipose (fatty) tissue.

Note: Gynecomastia in patients less than 16 years of age generally will resolve on its own. Therefore, mastectomy for gynecomastia is not indicated for these patients and is considered cosmetic.

Mastectomy for gynecomastia is considered cosmetic and, therefore, non-covered for any other indication.

Procedure Codes

19300

Cryotherapy (e.g. Cryosurgery) may be considered medically necessary when performed for diagnoses other than active acne.

Cryotherapy performed for the treatment of active acne are considered cosmetic and, therefore, non-covered.

Procedure Codes

17000 17003 17004 17340 67825

Chemical Exfoliation for Acne may be considered medically necessary when performed to treat patients with active acne that has failed a trial of topical and/or oral antibiotic acne therapy.

Epidermal chemical peels used to treat acne scarring or dermal peels used to treat end-state acne scarring are considered cosmetic.

Procedure Codes

17360

Dermabrasion may be considered medically necessary when correcting defects resulting from an accident or when functional impairment exists.

Dermabrasion is considered cosmetic and, therefore, non-covered for any other indication.

Procedure Codes

15780 15781 15782 15783 15786 15787

Earlobe Surgery may be considered medically necessary when repairing an earlobe defect if the defect is a through and through laceration resulting in a bilobe earlobe.

Repair of a defect that does not result in a bilobe earlobe (e.g., a large hole resulting from wearing heavy jewelry) is considered cosmetic and, therefore, noncovered.

Procedure Codes

12011 12051 13151

Hair Removal (Permanent) by any method (e.g., by electrolysis) may be considered medically necessary when BOTH of the following criteria are met:

  • When performed to prevent the recurrence of pilonidal cysts; and
  • When ingrown hairs are responsible for repeated painful cysts, targeted hair removal is appropriate.

Note: Electrolysis and laser hair removal performed for hirsutism is classified as cosmetic and, therefore, not covered.

Hair removal is considered cosmetic and, therefore, non-covered for any other indication.

Procedure Codes

17380 17999

Hair Transplant may be considered medically necessary when performed as a result of injury or burn.

Hair transplant is considered cosmetic and, therefore, non-covered for any other indication.

Procedure Codes

15220 15221 15775 15776

Otoplasty may be considered medically necessary when performed to improve hearing impairment, whether the ears are absent or deformed from trauma, surgery, disease, or congenital defect. Hearing impairment is defined as a loss of at least 15 decibels outside the normal hearing range in the affected ear(s) documented by audiogram. (Note: Degree of hearing loss refers to the severity of the loss. Normal range or no hearing loss = 0dB to 20dB.)

Otoplasty is considered cosmetic and, therefore, non-covered for any other indication.

Procedure Codes

69300

Port Wine Stain Treatment may be considered medically necessary for port wine stains on the face and neck.

Treatment of port wine stains on the trunk or extremities is considered cosmetic and, therefore, non-covered.

Procedure Codes

17106 17107 17108

Rhinoplasty may be considered medically necessary when ANY of the following criteria are met:

  • When post-traumatic (i.e., accident) nasal deformity exists; or
  • When functional breathing impairment is present.

Rhinoplasty is considered cosmetic and, therefore, non-covered for any other indication.

Procedure Codes

30400 30410 30420 30430 30435 30450

Rhytidectomy (meloplasty, face lift) may be considered medically necessary when functional impairment exists as a result of a disease state (e.g., facial paralysis).

Rhytidectomy is considered cosmetic and, therefore, non-covered for any other indication.

Procedure Codes

15824 15825 15826 15828 15829

Rosacea Treatment (any non-pharmacological treatment method, including but not limited to: laser and light therapy [e.g., intense pulsed light (IPL), dermabrasion, chemical peels, surgical debulking, and electrosurgery]) may be considered medically necessary when functional impairment exists and pharmacologic therapy, specific for the treatment of rosacea, has failed or is contraindicated.

Rosacea treatment is considered cosmetic and, therefore, non-covered for any other indication.

Procedure Codes

17999 96900

Scar Revision may be considered medically necessary when correcting scars and keloids resulting from an accident or when functional impairment exists.

Scar revision treatment is considered cosmetic and, therefore, non-covered for any other indication.

Other Procedures

The following procedures can be performed for either cosmetic or reconstructive purposes. If there are no procedure specific guidelines associated with a listed procedure below, the procedure may be classified as reconstructive only when there is documented functional impairment:

  • Chemical peel
  • Correction of diastasis recti abdominis
  • Excision, excessive skin, thigh, leg, hip, buttock, arm, forearm, or hand, submental fat pad, other area.
  • Mastopexy
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Procedures/products/services via any treatment modality (e.g., laser, cryotherapy) performed solely for the treatment of post-acne scarring
  • Salabrasion
  • Suction assisted lipectomy done solely for cosmetic purposes
  • Temporary hair removal (e.g., waxing, laser)

Procedure Codes

15788 15789 15792 15793 15832 15833 15834
15835 15836 15837 15838 15839 15876 15877
15878 15879 17340 17999 19316 36468 G0429
Q2026 Q2028

Corrective facial surgery will be considered cosmetic rather than reconstructive when there is not any functional impairment present.

An indication or a diagnosis of pain may qualify as functional impairment.

Psychiatric indications do not warrant payment for cosmetic surgery when no functional impairment is present. However, severe psychological impairment, appropriately documented, can be classified as significant functional impairment on an individual consideration basis.

In cases involving psychiatric disorder or involutional changes due to aging, the claim should be accompanied by a report from a psychiatrist who indicates a definite psychiatric condition relevant to the condition to be corrected by the surgery and that the proposed correction is likely to be of significant help in treating the psychiatric problem. These services require medical review prior to payment.

Additional Documentation

S-28

Minimum Weight of Breast Tissue Removed per Breast, as a Function of Body Surface Area

Schnur Sliding Scale
Body Surface Area (in meters squared) Minimum weight of tissue to be removed per breast (grams)
1.35 199
1.40 218
1.45 238
1.50 260
1.55 284
1.60 310
1.65 338
1.70 370
1.75 404
1.80 441
1.85 482
1.90 527
1.95 575
2.00 628
2.05 687
2.10 750
2.15 819
2.20 895
2.25 978
2.30 or greater > = 1000

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons” classification system of gynecomastia is as follows:

Grade I: Small breast enlargement with localized button of tissue around the areola
Grade II: Moderate breast enlargement exceeding areola boundaries with edges that are indistinct from the chest
Grade III: Moderate breast enlargement exceeding areola boundaries with edges that are distinct from the chest with skin redundancy
Grade IV: Marked breast enlargement with skin redundancy and feminization of the breast

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