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Can I get a breast enlargement on the NHS?

Breast enlargement is an extremely common cosmetic procedure and in private cosmetic clinics, it is the one that is carried out the most. Women looking for a boob job are hoping to achieve larger and better-shaped breasts and often being unable to have the required surgery can cause significant emotional distress. This is when people may start to explore an NHS boob job and if it is even a procedure that the NHS carry out. The cost implications of having surgery at a private clinic can be off-putting for some although there are often flexible payment terms that are available.

Of late there has been a surge in interest around NHS boob jobs. This has largely been down to high profile news stories where people have publicized how they had duped the NHS into carrying out their surgery for free. This led to the NHS coming under severe criticism for how taxpayers money was being used and inevitably change followed. So where do things stand now? Do the NHS still carry out surgery for breast enlargement and if they do can anyone have it? We’re going to take a look and clarify how things now stand.

Can you get a boob job on the NHS? 

Any procedure to enlarge breasts is seen as cosmetic and the NHS does not routinely offer cosmetic surgery. The exceptions to this would be if cosmetic surgery, in this case, a boob job, is required because it will assist another health issue or if not having the surgery will cause significant psychological harm. The funding available for breast surgery varies from area to area and it is recommended to discuss your own area with your GP. 

Examples of when, in theory, you could receive an NHS boob job are:

If a woman requires reconstructive surgery, this is a time when the NHS will consider carrying out surgery. This would apply to someone who has damaged or missing breast tissue due to an illness. This could be following treatment for breast cancer. It would also apply to a woman who may have been born with a birth defect that has affected the breast tissue.

For an NHS boob job, it is not enough just to want to increase the size of your breasts. For the NHS to approve the procedure it needs to be shown that not having it will have serious consequences for a woman’s mental health. This could include women who have not developed breasts at all or women who have breasts where they vary significantly in size.

Why won’t the NHS pay for my boob job?

As with most things, the lack of any procedures being offered by the NHS is down to funding. With the NHS reporting for years that it is underfunded decisions have to be made as to where funds will be directed. It was back in 2014 that the then Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced a clampdown on breast enlargement surgery. This was on the back of high profile cases where women had bragged within newspapers that the NHS had funded their surgery at £5,000 a time. With the government, like all governments, making the NHS a priority, it became too difficult to justify the expense of cosmetic procedures.

That is not to say that the NHS will never pay for your boob job. The truth is that when women are seeking breast enlargement surgery it often has a negative impact on their levels of confidence and self-esteem. While this is widely recognised everywhere, for the NHS it is not enough for them to cover the costs and the only way they will do this is for you to prove to them that you are experiencing severe psychological distress. Whilst we accept that there is much more to it, for the NHS someone merely being unhappy with their appearance is not enough to justify the expense involved. 

Am I better off going privately for my boob job?

When women look at the barriers placed before them when looking at an NHS boob job, it is perhaps understandable that they start to look at private clinics as an alternative. Private clinics are no longer a privilege for the elite as they were once seen. In fact, with the introduction of payment plans, they are no more accessible than ever before. Does making them accessible mean that you should use them for your boob job though?

When looking at the NHS even when women have managed to overcome the hurdles placed before them, they have then faced a waiting list of years. Many are in such a position that they simply can not wait. Bearing in mind that these women have proven that they are suffering severe psychological distress makes the waiting times nothing short of appalling. At a private practice, women can have the surgery without the wait. Expert surgeons work within the best settings and without the pressures that are faced by the NHS, they have the time to add a personal touch. This is shown by the time that you get to consult with your surgeon and in the way that treatment and aftercare is personalised to your needs. 

Can I get any cosmetic surgery on the NHS?

We have already looked at the criteria that need to be met to have an NHS boob job, but what of other cosmetic procedures? There are procedures that are carried out on the NHS that can be classed as cosmetic and these include:

As is the case with an NHS boob job, when you are seeking any of the procedures with the NHS it is not enough to merely be unhappy with your appearance. Assessments are carried out on a case by case basis to consider the social, psychological, and physical benefits of any surgery to see if they justify the expense. A private clinic on the other hand is all about you. 

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