By Staff Sgt. Alexander Martinez, 15th Wing Public Affairs
Are you an Airman seeking a nip here or tuck there? Not so fast—the Air Force has rules and regulations that govern off-base elective surgery.
“Airmen should know that while it’s not prohibited to get elective surgery, they must follow the proper approval process,” said Chief Master Sgt. James Smith, 15th Wing command chief. “This keeps them safe and ensures there are no negative impacts on their mission or workplace.”
According to AFI 44-102 section 6.2, “Elective surgery on active duty members performed off-base and not coordinated or approved by the medical treatment facility (MTF)/Tricare (such as surgery at the member’s expense), is prohibited without prior written approval of the member’s squadron commander and the MTF/CC.”
Examples of elective surgeries include, but are not limited to, breast augmentation or reduction, other cosmetic surgeries, or laser eye surgery performed by a nonmilitary provider. Surgical procedures for weight reduction are not authorized.
For active-duty Airmen, it is prohibited to get elective surgery without following the approval process. There are several signatures on the 15th Medical Group’s checklist that are required for approval. The process starts with setting up an appointment with a primary care manager and then going to the benefits counselor (BCAC) for a required counseling.
An important part of the request packet produced by the BCAC involves a letter to the Airman’s surgeon. This letter allows the commander to know the potential duty impacts of the surgery, but does not list the type of surgery being performed.
Once cleared by a PCM and BCAC, the request must be approved by the requestor’s squadron commander and further approved by the medical group commander or equivalent medical treatment facility commander.
Airmen must pay for their own elective surgery. In addition, annual leave, not convalescent leave, must be taken for the recovery time.
Any elective surgery within six months of retirement, separation or discharge requires Air Force Personnel Center approval.
“What it all comes down to is integrity,” Smith said. “We all need to be aware of the right way to do things and, in this case, there is a clear process that must be followed in order to avoid any negative repercussions.”
More information on elective surgeries can be found in Air Force Instruction 44-102 Medical Care Management, or call 448-6125.