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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is it safe to have a breast implant revision and tummy tuck together?

    After breast feeding 4 children, I had breast implants done in August 1974 and they were still soft until last year when I lost 14kg in weight after developing type 1 diabetes and also having my thyroid gland removed. My breasts have shrunk and sagged and I have a lot of loose skin on my abdomen. Will my private fund and Medicare contribute to my operation costs?
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    Mr Mark Baldwin

    Plastic Surgeon (Reconstructive & Cosmetic)

    Specialist in: Breast augmentation and reduction Abdominoplasty and body reshaping Rhinoplasty View Profile

    This is a complicated question to answer precisely. It will depend on several things, including whether your implants are simply removed, or removed and replaced with a similar sized implant etc etc, and whether you have significant dermatological symptoms from your excess abdominal skin. You'll first need to sit down and discuss your situation with a plastic surgeon, and decide exactly what surgical plan would be best for you.

  • Dr Mark Edinburg

    Plastic Surgeon (Reconstructive & Cosmetic)

    Utilising my experience and passion for my chosen field of Plastic and Reconstructive surgery, I am able to combine my skills as a Specialist Plastic … View Profile

    Hello and thank you for your question.

    The short answer is that it certainly is possibly to do both breast implant revision and tummy tuck at the same time and I have had a number of patients who have done exactly that.

    However, there are many considerations that will ultimately determine what type of surgery you need and your eligibility for Medicare and Health Fund rebates.

    The type of surgical procedures you undergo (eg. tummy tuck, breast lift, liposuction) will determine whether or not there are applicable Medicare and Health fund rebates, while your personal presenting “symptoms” and circumstances (eg. an overhanging apron of abdominal skin with rashes underneath following significant weight loss) will determined whether or not you personally are eligible for a Medicare item number for a particular surgery and therefore, associated health fund rebates and hospital cover.

    Both tummy tuck and breast lift surgeries can have Medicare item numbers, but there are strict rules determining who is eligible for these item numbers. There is no longer a Medicare item number for removal and replacement of implants and, as such, this procedure is now deemed entirely “cosmetic” with no Medicare or health fund assistance. (Incidentally, implant removal on its own with no replacement of implant has an item number, but this does not sound like a procedure that would meet your needs). 

    Medicare has also changed its eligibility criteria for Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) surgery and for Mastopexy (breast lift) surgery over the past few years. Currently, tummy tuck surgery is only eligible for a Medicare item number (and hence, health fund cover for you while you are in hospital) if you have lost 5 BMI points or more, have issues with overhanging skin and rashes and your weight has been stable for 6 or more months. This may well be the case with you and, as such, if you have the correct level of health fund cover, the fund will cover your hospital expenses. This is not an insignificant cost either as you may well be in hospital for anywhere between 3-6 nights with this type of surgery

    In terms of the breast implant revision, you may now require a breast lift together with new implants to improve both the sag and the lack of volume you describe. It’s possible that your best 'look' could be achieved with the same size implants you have now or you may need slightly larger ones because of the additional “emptiness” from your weight loss. Either way, if implants are removed and replaced, there is no Medicare item number for the procedure. There is an item number for breast lift surgery, but the requirements for this include having had a child 7 or less years ago and presenting with severely droopy breasts (with quite stringent clinical measurements).

    Given all of the above, if you were to have a combination of procedures, you would also have a combination of cover. As you can see, this is not actually a simple question at all and it does not have a simple answer.

    I believe your best option is to see a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, so that we can carry out a full assessment and listen to what concerns you and what you are hoping to achieve with your surgery. Then your surgeon can discuss your options with you, both surgical and financial. Once you are armed with all this knowledge specific to your situation, you can make informed choices.

    I trust this has been of some help and wish you well in your search.

     

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