Gynecomastia, a condition that leads to enlarged breasts in males, occurs in up to half of all American men at some point in their life. It can happen at any age and can be due to multiple factors, including genetics, certain medications and weight gain.
Gynecomastia surgery is a procedure that reduces breast size in men. A surgeon removes excess fat and glandular tissue to improve the shape of the chest and give it a more masculine appearance. This makes gynecomastia surgery a potential option for any men who feel self-conscious about having larger breasts or who have experienced health complications as a result.
Anyone considering this procedure will naturally be curious about the cost of male breast reduction. Let’s now take a look at the details and discuss the different variables that impact the cost of surgery, so prospective patients will have a better idea of what to expect.
What Is the Average Cost of Gynecomastia Surgery?
According to healthcare marketplace and consumer research site RealSelf, the average cost of gynecomastia surgery is $5,550 as of 2019. They clarify, saying the price could range anywhere from $1,375 to $9,700, depending on the exact nature of the surgery, but $5,550 is good ballpark number.
In terms of the specific factors that affect the price, here are the biggest:
- Anesthesia costs: According to RealSelf, patients have two main options — local anesthesia and general anesthesia. The former is lighter and simply involves taking a sedative. The latter is deeper and the patient is completely asleep during the procedure. As a result, general anesthesia is considerably more expensive.
- Hospital and surgical costs: This is one of the major expenses, with costs averaging $3,949 per day. Some factors that contribute to these costs include lab tests, operating room fees, X-rays and surgical procedures.
- Pre-op medical tests: These are the tests performed before surgery; doctors look at a patient’s medical history, current health, and any medications they take.
- Post-surgery garments: The specialized clothing patients wear after surgery to optimize the recovery is another pricing factor. Patients will typically wear a compression vest, which supports the chest and upper abdomen throughout the recovery process.
- Medications: Patients may take pain medications or antibiotics after gynecomastia surgery to aid in the healing process.
- Surgeon’s fees: This is the money a surgeon charges for the procedure and typically ranges between $100 to $1,000.
Does My Insurance Cover Gynecomastia Surgery?
Health insurance plans can vary significantly. There is no set answer as to whether or not a person’s insurance will cover the surgery. If the negative impacts of gynecomastia are primarily cosmetic, then patients aren’t usually eligible for coverage. However, if the patient has moderate-to-severe pain that results in physical impairment, insurance may cover it. To learn the details, potential patients should consult their health insurance provider.
With that said, here are three popular insurance providers and their coverage policies regarding gynecomastia surgery:
- UnitedHealthcare: The condition must be the result of glandular breast tissue (rather than fatty deposits) and cause moderate to severe chest pain. Medications, supplements and substances that can potentially lead to gynecomastia must be discontinued, and the issue must be documented with physical exams and/or mammography.
- Blue Cross Blue Shield: The patient must be over 18 years old, with the condition stemming from excessive glandular tissue and not fatty tissue. Gynecomastia must not result from other issues like reversible drug treatments, steroids or illegal drugs. Everything must be confirmed by a clinical exam, mammography and/or tissue pathology.
- Highmark Health: The patient must be experiencing pain, and functional impairment must be present (rather than just psychological impairment). There must be documentation that the issue is primarily related to breast tissue and not fatty tissue. Substances such as methadone, marijuana and herbal remedies must also be ruled out as the cause of gynecomastia.
How to Pay for Gynecomastia Surgery
With the average cost of gynecomastia surgery being well over $5,000 and health insurance coverage not being a sure thing, patients will want to explore different ways of paying for it.
For starters, patients should look for ways to save money, including cutting back on impulse purchases, buying only essential items and cooking at home more and eating out less. They may also want to consider setting up an automatic transfer in which their bank moves a predetermined amount of money from their checking account to their savings account each month.
Claiming a tax deduction for medical expenses is another idea. Although a patient can’t generally do this for unnecessary gynecomastia surgery that’s strictly for cosmetic purposes, they usually can if the surgery is for health reasons and resulting in serious pain. It’s smart to consult an accountant before claiming a tax deduction, but this is definitely something to look into and can dramatically offset the gynecomastia surgery cost.
Or a patient can always take out a medical loan, which is an unsecured personal loan that can be used to pay for a wide range of medical expenses, including planned surgical procedures. Having good credit is often a prerequisite for obtaining a medical loan. Many of these loans have quick approval times, with some lenders offering access to funds within just a few business days.
Finally, patients should be prepared for unexpected expenses, such as pre-op and post-op medical exams, medications, loss of wages due to recovery time. It’s hard to say for sure whether or not additional costs will pop up before or after the procedure, so it’s a good idea to have some financial reserves available just in case.
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