Fact or Fiction: FMLA covers a tummy-tuck procedure

Fact or Fiction?That’s right folks. It’s time for another edition of “Fact or Fiction” a/k/a “Quick Answers to Quick Questions” a/k/a QATQQ f/k/a “I don’t feel like writing a long blog post.”

An employee is eligible for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act if the employee has “a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the position of such employee.” An employee has a serious health condition if there is “an illness, injury, impairment or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care . . . or continuing treatment by a health care provider.”

Treatments for cosmetic procedures are not serious health conditions unless complications develop from the procedure or inpatient hospital care is required. So, an employee who takes leave for a tummy-tuck procedure is not covered under the FMLA.

The answer to today’s question is fiction.

For more on this, check out Dorsey v. Bellanger.

Updated:
  • Dagny

    “Treatments for cosmetic procedures are not serious health conditions unless complications develop from the procedure or inpatient hospital care is required. So, an employee who takes leave for a tummy-tuck procedure is not covered under the FMLA.”

    The conclusion is incorrect. An employee who takes leave for a tummy-tuck procedure may be covered under the FMLA, if complications develop from the procedure or inpatient hospital care is required.

    In the Bellanger case, “the Court conclude[d that Plaintiff ha[d] not alleged sufficient facts to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the cosmetic surgery was subject to FMLA coverage.”

    • Thank you for the comment, Dagny. The caveat you note is accurate. If a serious health condition arises because of the tummy tuck, which ordinarily would not be covered under the FMLA, then the FMLA may be implicated as to the complication and the resulting treatment.

  • Ben

    Who determines if my liposuction is cosmetic or, since my bones and muscles won’t have to lug an extra 150 pounds around, is not and could be covered under FML. Is there a list, or is this physician or employer driven?

  • Arthur Ehrlich

    I tried an FMLA interference and retaliation case where the D argued that the P was undergoing a “tummy tuck” procedure. In fact, the procedure in question occurred after the P lost over 150 pounds after undergoing gastric bypass surgery. Two treating physicians testified the procedure was absolutely medically necessary in that scenario as the P experienced numerous problems with the amount of flapping skin caused by the rapid and significant weight loss. The jury ruled against us on the interference claim but ruled in our favor on the retaliation claim. The doctors testified that while there were cosmetic benefits to the procedure, it was performed for medical reasons.