Health Insurance For Tummy Tucks

Updated 13/12/2023

Looking to reduce your out-of-pocket expenses on a tummy tuck surgery? Read our guide to finding the right private health fund.

Health Insurance For Tummy Tucks

Compare Private Health Insurance for Tummy Tucks

More than one third of Australians are considering cosmetic surgery, and a tummy tuck is high on the wish list. But tummy tucks are not just cosmetic. They are a medically necessary surgical procedure for many people.  

While Medicare and private health insurance don’t typically cover cosmetic treatments, they may both help to cover the costs of a medically-required tummy tuck. 

Key Points

  • Tummy tucks refer to two different medical procedures:  lipectomy and abdominoplasty.

  • A tummy tuck typically involves the removal of excess fat and skin from the abdominal area. It may also include tightening the abdominal muscles.

  • In Australia, a tummy tuck can cost anywhere from $9,000 to more than $29,000.

  • Medicare may cover some of the cost of your tummy tuck – including the removal of excess or loose skin – if you meet a range of strict criteria. 

  • The tummy tuck public waiting list can be long. In 2021-22, 9.6% of public patients waited longer than 365 days for elective surgery. 

  • Private health insurance for approved tummy tucks can help you skip the public waiting list, and reduce your out-of-pocket costs.

What is a tummy tuck?

A tummy tuck is a surgical procedure designed to improve the cosmetic appearance of the abdomen. It can refer to two distinct medical procedures:

  • Lipectomy: Also referred to as liposuction or lipoplasty, the primary goal of a lipectomy is the removal of localised pockets of excess fat to improve body contour.

The surgeon typically makes small incisions in the targeted area, and inserts a thin tube – known as a cannula – to suction out excess fat.

  • Abdominoplasty: The primary goal of abdominoplasty is to address not only excess fat, but also loose or excess skin, and weakened or separated abdominal muscles.

During abdominoplasty, the surgeon typically makes an incision in the lower abdomen, removes excess skin and fat, and may tighten the abdominal muscles to create a firmer, more toned appearance.

A tummy tuck is often sought by people who have loose or excess skin around the abdomen, possibly due to previous abdominal surgery, significant weight loss, multiple pregnancies, or the effects of ageing. 

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How much is a tummy tuck in Australia?

Excess skin removal cost in Australia can range from as low as $9,000 to more than $29,000. 

However, loose skin removal surgery costs in Australia can vary widely depending on several factors, including the specific type of procedure, the surgeon's experience and reputation, the geographical location of the clinic, and the facilities provided. 

For example, excess skin removal in Sydney costs from about $12,000 to more than $20,000. In Melbourne, you can expect to pay anywhere from approximately $11,000 to upwards of $19,000 for a tummy tuck, and in Brisbane an abdominoplasty can cost you from around $10,000 to more than $22,000. 

However, it’s important to note that the quoted fees for a tummy tuck may or may not include fees for the surgeon, anaesthesia, facility or hospital charges, and follow-up appointments. 

So to get accurate and up-to-date information on the cost of a tummy tuck in Australia, consult with a board-certified cosmetic surgeon in your location. And it can’t hurt to get a few quotes, because surgeon’s fees can also vary widely even in the same area.

Is excess skin removal in Australia covered by Medicare? 

Medicare does not cover cosmetic tummy tuck surgery. However, Medicare may cover part of the cost of your tummy tuck, including excess or loose skin removal, if the procedure is deemed medically necessary and you meet specific criteria, including:

  • You suffer from a skin condition that risks loss of skin integrity and have not responded to three months of conventional or non-surgical treatment.

  • Your excess skin or fat interferes with the activities of daily living. 

  • Following significant weight loss, your weight has been stable for at least six months before the surgery.

  • You have an abdominal wall defect as a consequence of pregnancy and have not responded to physiotherapy and other non-surgical treatments.

However, several additional conditions apply to Medicare coverage for tummy tucks, so it’s best to consult with a GP to confirm whether your procedure will be deemed medically necessary.

If you don’t have private health insurance and your procedure is deemed medically necessary, you’ll need to join the tummy tuck public hospital waiting list. The time you’ll need to wait for elective surgery in a public hospital varies widely.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2022-23, 50% of patients were admitted for elective surgery within 49 days. However, over the same period, 9.6% of patients waited longer than 365 days. 

Can you get private health insurance for tummy tucks?

Most elective cosmetic surgery is typically not covered by private health insurance. However, if your tummy tuck is deemed to be medically necessary and you meet the Medicare criteria, your health fund may contribute to the cost of the procedure, subject to you holding an appropriate policy. 

According to the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, between 2021-22, 87% of people with private health insurance who underwent abdominoplasty had an out-of-pocket cost. 

  • Patients typically paid $6,400

  • However, 10% of people paid less than $500

  • And 10% of people paid more than $12,000

Here’s how that breaks down: 

Typical specialists fee

Medicare paid

Insurer paid

Patients typically paid

$8,400

$1,300

$710

$6,400

Remember, understanding Medicare's conditions for tummy tuck coverage is essential. While private health insurance may not cover elective cosmetic surgeries, if you meet the Medicare criteria for a medically necessary tummy tuck you could qualify for financial assistance from your health fund and skip the public waiting list. 

Consulting with your GP or cosmetic surgeon is likely the best way to determine whether your tummy tuck is medically necessary – and therefore eligible for private health insurance benefits. Asking that question could save you thousands of dollars.  If you're struggling to understand how to best cover your tummy tuck, the friendly health insurance experts at Compare Club are here to help.

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Sources

Australian College of Cosmetic Surgery and Medicine, Media Release

Mayo Clinic, Liposuction

Mayo Clinic, Tummy Tuck

Costhetics, What Does a Tummy Tuck Cost in Australia

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Elective Surgery

Dr Jeremy Hunt, Average Prices for Abdominoplasty in Sydney

Dr Craig Rubinstein, How Much Does an Abdominoplasty Cost in Melbourne?

Dr Justin Perron, Abdominoplasty

MBS Online, Medicare Benefits Schedule - Item 30177

MBS Online, Medicare Benefits Schedule - Item 30175

Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, Abdominal Lipectomy (Abdominoplasty) 

Disclaimer

This guide is opinion only and should not be taken as financial advice. Check with a financial professional before making any decisions.

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Chris Stanley is the sales & operations manager of health insurance at Compare Club. With extensive experience and expertise, Chris is a trusted leader known for his deep understanding of health insurance markets, policies, and coverage options. As the sales & operations manager of health insurance, Chris leads a team of dedicated professionals committed to helping individuals and families make informed decisions about their health insurance needs.

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Chris Stanley

Sales & Operations Manager for Health Insurance