Last Updated on May 12, 2023
The question comes up regularly on military message boards, and the debate soon ensues.
Does the Army (or military) pay for dependents to have plastic surgery for cosmetic purposes?
The Infamous Pilot Program
It seems everyone had heard of the pilot program from a few years ago, where some dependents were given the option to have cosmetic procedures when they paid for some portion of the surgery (such as the implants).
Army physicians performed the surgery relatively cheaply compared to civilian plastic surgeons. But it wasn’t as widespread as some people believe.
Beverly was kind enough to post the Army’s position on cosmetic procedures on the message board, and I thought I would share it with all of you.
Please note that this is regarding STRICTLY cosmetic procedures. If there is a medical reason for the surgery, Tricare may cover all or part of the costs. Of course, that is determined on a case-by-case basis.
The Official Word on Plastic Surgery
Regardless, here is the official stance from the U.S. Army Surgeon General’s Office:
Recruiters must know the facts and present the truth when faced with questions regarding the Army’s medical Benefits for cosmetic surgery.
According to the Army Surgeon General’s office, “If a person joins the military in hopes of receiving cosmetic surgery, they will almost certainly be disappointed because of the minimal number of cases performed. Military medicine is not in the makeover business.”
Benefits under Tricare do NOT cover cosmetic surgery procedures. The Army does have plastic surgeons.
Because the skills used in performing cosmetic surgery procedures are often the same skills required in obtaining optimal results in reconstructive surgery, these surgeons have a valid need to perform cosmetic surgery cases to maintain their specialty surgical skills.
They also need to meet board certification, recertification, and graduate medical education program requirements for specialties requiring training in cosmetic surgery.
However, Army plastic surgeons prioritize taking care of injured Soldiers. Plastic surgery is an integral part of training for battlefield medicine.
Therefore, Army surgeons focus on reconstructive plastic surgery–such as repairing cleft palates and reconstructive surgery for patients with mastectomies.
Surgeons perform a limited amount of cosmetic surgeries on a time and space-available basis. Patients pay some of the costs for these surgeries (i.e., mastectomy patients pay for their implants), and insurance is collected when possible.
Family members who receive cosmetic surgery pay fees for the procedure and any implants.
All patients, including Active Duty soldiers, undergoing cosmetic surgery procedures must pay the surgical fee, plus any applicable institutional and anesthesia fee, for the procedures following the fee schedule published annually by the Office of the Secretary of Defense Comptroller.