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Practice of billing Medicare to fix droopy lids raises eyebrows

News & Observer, May 29, 2013

WASHINGTON — Aging Americans worried about their droopy upper eyelids often rely on the plastic surgeon's scalpel to turn back the hands of time. Increasingly, Medicare is footing the bill. The public health insurance program for people over 65 typically does not cover cosmetic surgery, but for cases in which a patient's sagging eyelids significantly hinder their vision, it does pay to have them lifted. In recent years, though, a rapid rise in the number of so-called functional eyelid lifts, or blepharoplasty, has led some to question whether Medicare is letting procedures that are really cosmetic slip through the cracks – at a cost of millions of dollars.