Breast enlargement is one of the most commonly performed cosmetic surgery procedures in the UK for women looking to get bigger and enhanced breasts. Many women often see their GP to see whether they could have a boob job on the NHS and, if so, whether the NHS will fund the cost of the treatment. Choosing to have surgery at a clinic in the private sector will involve having to pay for the cost of the treatment, with many clinics offering flexible finance options to help spread the cost of the repayments. Choosing to have boob job surgery privately is still the most common pathway for most patients in the UK.
Many people come to us for breast enlargement surgery after exploring the option of NHS boob jobs. They have been led to seek treatment in the NHS due to many individuals who can have free boob job surgery in the NHS after fabricating psychological symptoms to qualify for treatment. This has inevitably resulted in NHS managers coming into the firing line for allowing public sector funds to be used to fund the cost of cosmetic breast surgery. Here we discuss the eligibility criteria for breast enlargement surgery and whether it is still carried out in the NHS for specific patient groups.
Can I get a boob job on the NHS?
Surgery undertaken to increase the size of the breasts as part of a breast enlargement procedure is classified as a cosmetic treatment and is not covered by the NHS. There are several exceptions to this rule. In some cases, breast enlargement surgery is required for reconstruction after mastectomy or to treat psychological disturbance from having excessively small or uneven breasts. Potential funding for a boob job will vary depending on your postcode, with each clinical commissioning group having different criteria. We would recommend speaking to your GP 1st to see if you could potentially qualify for NHS treatment. In most cases, treatment will not be available for cosmetic purposes alone.
The following are examples of where an NHS boob job may be performed:
- Breast reconstruction – many women, may require breast reconstruction surgery to restore the anatomy of the breasts after surgery for breast cancer, breast asymmetry or tubular breasts. Some women may have developed congenital defects which affect the growth and development of the breasts.
- Psychological disturbances – simply deciding you want to increase the size of your breasts may not be sufficient to qualify for an NHS job. There are stringent eligibility criteria, and your local NHS provider will need a medical report from a specialist showing your mental health is severely affected by having small breasts. Most women who fall into this category have congenital defects present from birth or women with severe breast asymmetry due to trauma or surgery for breast cancer and suffer significant emotional distress affecting their mental health.
Will the NHS pay for my boob job?
No. The NHS has come under significant cost pressures over the last few years and has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic with severe strain placed on elective surgery waiting lists. This is on top of the historic underfunding, which has affected the NHS for many years. In 2014, breast enlargement surgery was one of several procedures formally announced as no longer performed in the NHS. This was due to several cases reported in the newspapers with many women who had successfully obtained free boob job surgery in the NHS with treatment costs of as much as £5000 each. Management of the NHS budget has always been a government priority. In 2022, it has become unjustified to fund the cost of cosmetic breast surgery purely to improve appearance.
There are few exceptions where the NHS may pay for your boob job. Most women who decide to have breast enlargement surgery do so due to the adverse impact of small breasts on their self-confidence and emotional well-being. Although this is a valid reason to have the surgery, the NHS has decided not to fund the cost of the procedure. Only people with severe psychological disturbance with depression may be possible NHS candidates for the procedure. Although other factors are taken into account when allocating funding, simply because you are unhappy with how you look will not be enough for you to qualify for NHS funding for boob job surgery.
Should I go private for a boob job?
Given the many hurdles to having a boob job in the NHS, many women rightly choose to consider what options exist in the private sector. Private cosmetic surgery, whilst traditionally viewed as only available to wealthy people, accessibility of cosmetic surgery has significantly widened over the last ten years. Centre for Surgery is one of the few clinics in London to offer flexible finance options, including 0% finance, which increases the affordability of the procedure for many women who otherwise could not afford it.
Even women who are successful in qualifying for NHS treatment may find they are placed on the NHS waiting list for surgery, and this means they may be waiting for many years to have treatment. Most people cannot wait for such long periods, and given that severe mental distress may worsen, it makes sense to have speedy and high-quality treatment in the UK private sector. At Centre for Surgery, women can have breast enlargement surgery without any waiting lists. Our highly experienced surgeons have many years of experience carrying out a boob job surgery without the inefficiencies in the NHS. By having treatment privately, you are having treatment tailored to you, and your surgeon can spend time listening to your ideas and concerns to plan treatment that best matches your needs and preferences. This is why our consultations are a minimum of 45 minutes and often take up to an hour, giving ample time to assess you thoroughly.
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Does the NHS offer any type of cosmetic surgery?
The eligibility criteria that are in place for NHS boob jobs are similar, if not more stringent, for other types of cosmetic procedures. Several cosmetic surgery procedures may be performed in the NHS for defined reasons and involve a cosmetic component to the operation, including:
- Nose job or septoplasty for difficulty breathing through the nose
- Tummy tuck surgery for people who have lost significant weight after bariatric surgery and are left with loose skin
- Eyelid reduction for people with impaired vision caused by droopy eyelids
- Correction of excessively protruding ears as part of an otoplasty procedure
- Surgical scar revision and scar removal procedures are for people with excessive scarring following surgery or traumatic injury.
In common with the criteria for an NHS boob job, access to the above procedures will be determined based on functional symptoms and not on cosmetic appearance alone. Obtaining funding for Surgery will require having a detailed assessment by an approved specialist who will consider the medical, psychological and social implications of any symptoms you may be having, which may justify having a procedure. You can avoid these problems by choosing to have cosmetic surgery at a reputable UK cosmetic surgery clinic such as Centre for Surgery in London.
If you want to learn more about breast enlargement surgery and how much it costs, please get in touch with us at 0207 993 4849 or complete the contact form below to book a consultation with an expert surgeon at our Baker Street clinic in Marylebone.