What is a facelift?

Aging in the face can be caused by a variety of factors, including loss of facial fat, sun damage, smoking, heredity and stress, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). A facelift, also called a rhytidectomy, is a surgical procedure that can improve the visible signs of aging in the face and neck. A facelift may address sagging skin in the face, deepening of fold lines between the nose and the mouth, and loose skin and excess fat in the neck. A facelift cannot change your fundamental appearance nor stop the aging process.

What does a facelift involve?

A facelift involves anesthesia so you won’t feel pain during your surgery according to ASPS. You could have intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. There are generally three types of facelifts.

  • A traditional facelift makes an incision at the hairline at the temples, continues around the ear and ends in the lower scalp. A traditional facelift may also involve a second incision under the chin.
  • A limited incision facelift makes a shorter incision at the temples, cutting around the ear. This may also be called a “mini facelift.”
  • A neck lift facelift makes an incision that begins at the front of the ear lobe and wraps around behind the ear. A neck lift facelift can correct sagging jowls, loose neck skin, and fat under the chin.

Cutting along the hairline and the natural contours of the face an ear mean that the scars from a facelift should be well concealed. A facelift may involve swelling and bruising but most people are “presentable” within two weeks, according to ASPS.

Does Medicare cover a facelift?

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) defines cosmetic plastic surgery as a procedure that enhances and reshapes the structures of the body to improve appearance. According to ASPS health insurance does not generally cover cosmetic surgery because it is elective (and not emergency.) Medicare generally does not cover cosmetic surgery. Medicare may cover cosmetic surgery in a few circumstances:

  • You have an accidental injury
  • You have a malformed body part and surgery could improve its function
  • You had a mastectomy because of breast cancer and you need breast reconstruction

Given these criteria for cosmetic surgery coverage, a facelift generally does not qualify for Medicare coverage.

Do you have more questions about Medicare coverage?

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