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It’s been the topic of choice on many military wives communities…the infamous question! “Can military wives get breast implants for free”? Now on the Army Wife 101 fan page we have had this discussion before, but it has since come up so I thought it would be appropriate to discuss again.

I’ve seen every answer imaginable but here are the most popular ones:

*I have friend who knew a girl who knew a wife who knew an ex-wife  who got hers done and all she had to do was say she has low self esteem

* You are entitled to one free plastic surgery while your husband is active duty

* A friend of mine knew someone at the hospital so I got put on the list easier

* You can get the surgery if you pay for the implants and anesthesia

People please understand yes there are people who have gotten boob jobs through the Army. Many of them were enlisted and the surgery was for specific reasons. Then there are those wives who have slipped through the cracks at a time when many of the Army’s training hospitals were allowing some cosmetic procedures to be performed so that plastic and reconstructive surgery can be learned.  There are spouses who have had their breast size reduced due to chest and back pain.You also have spouses who maybe have suffered from severe cosmetic deformities or very small chest which causes body/image issues and have been approved after a series of psychological and mental evaluations and consultation with a surgeon who would need to approve the procedure. Another reason one might be approved easily is for disfigurement due to a mastectomy or weight loss after surgery. Even these procedures take time to get proper  approval.

So for those who insist that the military is giving away boob jobs like Halloween candy , you are mistaken. For those who swear they know someone who received implants because all she did was go to the doctor and say I have low self esteem, best believe there is more to the story then you are being told. Don’t get me wrong I am sure there are a fair share of those who have slipped though the cracks, but 95% of the time that is not the case.

Because I know that my word isn’t the final say and their will be those of you who want proof below is the official regulation on cosmetic procedures via the Tricare website with the link at the end for you to refer back too.

Reconstructive Surgery

TRICARE covers cosmetic, reconstructive and plastic surgery to improve the physical appearance of a beneficiary only under the following circumstances:

  • Correction of a birth defect
  • Restoration of a body form following an accidental injury
  • Revision of disfiguring and extensive scars resulting from neoplastic surgery (i.e., surgery that removes a tumor or cyst)
  • Reconstructive breast surgery following a medically necessary mastectomy
  • Reconstructive breast surgery due to a congenital anomaly (birth defect)
  • Penile implants and testicular prostheses for conditions resulting from organic origins or for organic impotency
  • Surgery to correct pectus excavatum
  • Liposuction when medically necessary
  • Panniculectomy (tummy tuck) performed in conjunction with an abdominal or pelvic surgery when medical review determines that the procedure significantly contributes to the safe and effective correction or improvement of bodily function.

To be covered, surgeries must be performed no later than December 31st of the year following the accidental injury or surgical trauma, except in the case of postmastectomy reconstructive breast surgery or cases involving children who may require a growth period.

TRICARE does not cover cosmetic, reconstructive or plastic surgery related to:

  • Dental congenital anomalies
  • Elective correction of minor skin blemishes and marks
  • Breast augmentation
  • Face lifts
  • Reduction mammoplasties (breast reductions), except in the case of significant pain due to large breasts
  • Blepharoplasty (removal of excess skin of the eyelid)
  • Rhinoplasties (nose surgery)
  • Chemical peeling for the treatment of facial wrinkles or acne scars
  • Hair transplants
  • Electrolysis
  • Removal of tattoos
  • Liposuction for body contouring.

Official link on Tricare site



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Krystel is the mom of two and an Army Wife. In addition to Army Wife 101 she is the Co-Founder of a digital media agency that connects brands with the military market. She has appeared on MSNBC ,FOX LA and formerly was a weekly contributor to HLN's "Raising America". She has written for various outlets including Sheknows and Lifetime and is a big fan of cupcakes and french fries.

54 Comments on Boobage For Free…Or Is It?

  1. I can tell you from my own Tricare experience that last year I had a “Marilyn Monroe” mole beside my lip that was changing color and the doctor wanted to remove it “just to be safe” as cancer does run in my family. Even then, with two doctor recommendations, it was an EXTREMELY long, drawn out process to get it approved. I also had a skin tag on the back of my neck that my long hair kept getting caught on and would get all sore and red from rubbing on my clothes and would sometimes bleed. They wouldn’t approve that period. My surgeon ended up removing it for free though while removing the mole as a “favor”. There is no way they’re dishing out free boob jobs when removing a suspicious mole takes forever for approval from Tricare. I wish… lol!

    • I guess is very dependent on the doctor and facility. I had a skin tag on the back of my neck just like you describe. I asked my PCM if I could have it removed. He put in a referral right there and then. I made an appointment with same-day surgery, and 3 weeks later my skin tag was history. This was at Ireland, Fort Knox a year ago.

  2. I’m so glad you post this because I woke up thinking about it this morning. I have a deformity and want to currect it but don’t know how to go about getting this done with Tricare. Do I need to contact Tricare or contact a surgeon first?

    • You would contact your PCM by calling the tricare appt line and getting an appt to be seen by him he would then be able to put in a consult for the surgery needed.

  3. Why would anyone want to be the guinea pig for a military plastic surgeon?! No way! If you go and get plastic surgery for free or as cheap as you can then you are going to come out looking like a freak.

    To Jill: I just went to the post derm and had a mole removed immediately even though he didn’t think it was a problem but I wanted it gone so he did it on the spot. I am sorry for your difficulties.

  4. What I don’t understand is why I can’t get reconstructive breast surgery or a panniculectomy after working my butt off to loose weight, but the people who get the surgery to loose weight can get the reconstructive surgeries? I thought loosing weight would make me happy, but I was horribly wrong. I’d rather be the whale I was than looking like a skinny walrus. It’s caused severe depression & maritial issues (because of my attitude towards myself).

  5. Have you heard of women getting implants, just to make them larger, and the military paying for the procedure just so the woman can be more confident because she is going to school (while in the military) for a “negotiations” degree? I think this is ridiculous. I think that the woman should have to pay for most if not all of the procedure, especially if it is just for the look to make her able to “negotiate” better.

  6. Larger military treatment facilities who have plastic surgery specialty care will due elective type procedures e.g. breast augmentation, rhinoplasty (nosejobs), facelifts, botox etc. These are done on a space available basis and for a fee. The cost is generally way below what you’d pay on the outside since you are only being charged for equipment and supplies, not a surgeon’s fee.

    • This was the case when we were stationed in Hawaii. They were doing elective surgeries such as breast augmentation, but you needed to pay for the implants. They had a huge waiting list though.

  7. Lia is correct. And for those of you who really want or feel you need it due to self esteem issues, start up a fund today and start putting money into it. I just had a friend who paid under 2,000 euro for a very nice boob job in Belgium on the economy. You’d be surprised how fast your small change will add up! It’ll also give you some time to think about it, research a doctor, talk to others who’ve had it done, etc. And before you get on my case saying it’s easy for me to say that cause I don’t need it…whoooah…my boobs hang down to my knees without support so I can say that this depresses me sometimes, but I refuse to let it get to me in the end.

    • Could u please tell me where in belgium she had this done? my wife has a very hard time finding bras small enough to fit her.

  8. This may be too much information, but when I gave birth to my daughter, my ob/gyn did a poor job of stitching me up correctly and I now have a cosmetic issue in my vaginal area. It is very embarrassing and makes me very insecure about myself. Is this something that the military would pay for? This is something that I feel isn’t my fault and since I can’t afford the thousands of dollars, I was curious what they would be willing to do.

    • Chelsea…my friend/neighbor has this exact problem. Long story short…the Dr. on post insisted a med student stitch her up after giving birth. This has left her with horrible problems. She has tried and tried to get approved for having it fixed. The most they have agreed to do so far is physical therapy. Awful that TriCare won’t fix it :/

      But it’s always worth a shot so I would encourage you to pursue it…you never know =)

  9. Too add to this discussion….my friend (yes actual friend…NOT 12 times removed lol) recently had bypass surgery on the Armys dime. She was nowhere near obese…overweight? yes. Life threatening? no. Not sure why this is considered ok and other cosmetic surgeries are not

    • With bypass surgery, you have to meet certain requirements, they don’t just “do them”. What a person looks like they weigh may not match the scale. I hide my weight quite well, but the scale tells a different story. It isn’t only a number required for bypass, they go off weight, BMI, and co-morbidities. They also look at family history. It isn’t easy to get either.

  10. Not to offend the writer, but as a note to the website: if you are going to publish articles it may be a good idea to copy edit first. At absolute minimum two sets of eyes on every story so that mistakes such as “their” where it should be “there” don’t slip through.

  11. Chelsea, what you are referring to is a rectocyle and can include a cystcyle. They will cover it as a quality of life issue not a life threatening one. You need to see your provider for a referal to OBGYN for they do this procedure. Explain to them all the complications with BM’s and intercourse. I have held off for where we are now there is not a good reputation for the military hospitals and they also say no lifting for 6-8 weeks, even a book for they depend on scar tissue to form and fix it. Also there is a 3 day stay in the hospital and a year on stool softners.

  12. I had cosmetic surgery approved by TriCare but they didn’t foot the whole bill. I paid for the procedure up front but I had severe asymmetry due to scoliosis so they approved by breast augmentation. They determined an allowable amount and by federal law, the surgeon cannot charge me more than 115% of the approved allowable amount so they had to refund me the difference.
    The total OOP cost for me was $365.
    Oddly enough it was never my intent to try and get the procedure paid for. We (my husband and I) were going to use his enlistment bonus for my procedure. Then I got to reading on the tricare site and asked the medical office to send in my stuff to billing to see if it’d be approved and it was.

  13. Also, I did not get my augmentation done on base. I have tricare standard and saw one of the top surgeons in the state I reside in. I made sure to switch to standard when I started the process.

  14. So, I have Tubular breasts, which is a birth defect. Would that be covered? It wouldn’t even be necessary to put in implants; because they’re not uneven. Just a corrective surgery. Please reply.

  15. Hi everyone.. although my case is slightly different as it doesn’t apply to a tummy tuck, breast augmentation.. mine is because of my face. Yeah, sucks to be me. After 3 years of horrible spasms that started on one side of my face. Started with a slight twitching to a life altering stage where I rarely left my home ( 3 oclock in the morning kind of grocery shopping was all I could manage). My entire one side, neck, arm and hand would contort for 23 out of a 24 hour period. I had brain surgery a year ago. This stopped most of the spasms, but left one entire side of my forehead unable to move and is now paralysed and my one eye not able to open fully and the skin on both eyes so stretched and reduntent, that my opthomologist has put in for the upper blepharoplasty surgery plus to shorten the weakened muscle of the one eye. I have been approved for a browlift for the eyebrow… however.. for only one side ( which will leave me with a horrible shocked look because the good eye is now distorted and stuck up and stretched that skin out which when they botox in it to relieve it, left me with now perphial vision to the upper and side in both eyes) Tricare said that injury one side due to the 7th and 8th facial nerve due to an artery slipping in there was deemed medically neccesary.. the other side..cosmetic. I was refered to a new surgeon for a second opionion because my PCM didn’t feel that one side “fix” wouldn’t fix my problem. I will keep you posted on what they say. I just want my face back.. not worried about my drooping cheek and mouth one side. It is my eyes and forehead that have severely distorted and interfers with my vision. Driving is difficult, I can’t be out in the sunlight, and quality of life… well given my current condition..just imagine being in my shoes.

    I do have to say…when I hear about women or they post they are getting GPS and followed by TT, Boobs, and Body Lifts and I am pulling teeth to get Tricare to pay for this ( so we have 5 kids and 3 in college so money to pay for it is impossible) I get very very angry.

  16. The reason I replied to this post is because of the cosmetic vrs plastic for function as my particular case deals with this particularly and how tricare has so far divided my face down the middle literally. However the doctors feel to fix one side, the other must be fixed for symetery and proper function of the face. The half of an endoscoptic brow lift procedure, yes that is correct… HALF so far will be paid for- the other half, it would come out of pocket. Athough I have never heard of a forehead referred to has being 2 pieces.. it is a whole entity not a “pair of something” ex:boobs,hands,feet, legs and arms. Tummies and Forehead are one entity. I am still at the pending stage for the second part ( via opthamologist doing the surgery and was sent via the opthamologist that was at the MTF). I shared this to clarify the original posters article and the old military wive’s tales that float around and have for years. I have been healthy my whole life, I run 7 miles a day, work out in the gym and have never weighed more than 102 lbs ( except for pregnant and weighed between 123-130 ). Oh how I wish that they “would pay for one free cosmetic procedure ” then I can look semi normal and could see better and drive.

  17. This makes me sick! You ppl get free plastic surgery on my tax dollars. How is this fair at all? Makes me ashamed to be an American and even more ashamed that all you ladies are jumping to get free surgery while the rest of us middle-low paid americans struggle to pay for it.

    • We ppl? Military people pay taxes as well. Free surgery? Our “doctors” are mainly military personnel and it is part of their jobs and training. They don’t get paid any extra for what they are doing, same paycheck whether they do a surgery or not! As far as the “rest of you” being middle-low paid Americans struggling, you should look at the median income of a soldier, because most live right above the poverty line and make the equivelant to minimum wage for being on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year!

  18. I think a lot of surgeries that happen, depend on what base you are at and the PCM’s views. Unfortunately, through our 19 years, I have seen varying “standards” for referrals and doctors opinions on whether a surgery is warranted or not. I also see different bases doing more of certain surgeries, but I also have seen the training phases where more plastic surgeries are done. I did have a breast reduction in 1999 or 2000. My breasts were a C and a DD and my nipples pointed to the ground. Tricare at the time had a waiting list if you were not removing more than 300 grams, so I waited a year, and ended up having over 300g removed on one side and 400g on the other. I had a very reputable doctor from UNC that was a Nat. Guard member. 3 years later I went to see him before moving and was unhappy with the results, and was told they were fine, it probably looked different because of gaining or losing weight. While in Hawaii, my PCM actually took the time to look at my breasts and understood why I was not happy. My left is narrow and a B cup, and my right is round and a C cup, but the top inside looks like it was filleted. When I lay down, the top left of my breast is all sunk in. It is very unattractive and makes me very self-conscious. Point blank, it is ugly, but no one has offered to fix it or understood why I am unhappy, except for that one doctor…if we had stayed in Hawaii, I probably would have had it fixed.

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  23. There was a point (and still is) where my back was in an insane amount of pain. I tried losing weight which I did, and nothing got better. The only thing I could do was walk. I couldn’t really bend over too much. Or pick up my kids without my back acting up. It was determined by my doctor that my E cup boobs needed to be reduced. Unfortunately too many people had been putting in referrals for boob jobs that I couldn’t even turn in a referral from my doctor. A REFERRAL. So, I live with this pain every single day until I can get the opportunity to turn in my referral. Yet someone with low self esteem thinks their issues are more important than my medical issues? Please.

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