Medical Treatment Facilities (MTFs) that are under operation by the United States Army are generally reserved for medically necessary surgeries such as treatments of wounds and severe illnesses. However, most MTFs do offer some forms of cosmetic surgeries (provided they have the available resources) as long as they are medically justified. There have been cases of breast reduction to improve physical ability, reduce back strain, and accommodate heavier military equipment.

The Army has thorough regulations about cosmetic surgeries, both pre-enlistment and post-enlistment for its ranks. Breast enhancement is generally not considered a medically necessary surgery, and is therefore not officially covered by any Army medical policy. However, there have been instances of recruits undergoing breast enhancement surgery at MTFs, either at cost, or in some cases, paid in full by taxpayer dollars.

Prior To Enlistment

Certain cosmetic procedures may temporarily disqualify you for enlistment if they put you in any sort of medical jeopardy from physical activity. While breast enhancement surgery may not inherently disqualify you from being accepted as an Army recruit, it may interfere with your ability to perform. Army medics will ensure that you have completely recovered from the surgery, and that your overall health is not affected. If you are restored to fully healthy physical condition, no cosmetic surgery should prevent you from enlisting, though you may wish to consider the negative repercussions of breast implants—it may affect your running capacity, ability to carry equipment, and place an unnatural burden on your spine.

Policy 10-038

The official Army policy is that no cosmetic procedure is to be covered by MTFs unless it is medically necessary. Any cosmetic surgery that is done in order to allow a recruit to be more physically capable of performing his or her duties is considered necessary, but any elective procedure, such as breast implants or enhancements, is to be denied. In most cases, if MTFs have the resources, these kinds of procedures are available to recruits at cost—that is to say, recruits can get these procedures done at official Army treatment facilities as long as they cover the cost of the resources and procedure itself. Any additional service fees are waived.

Exemptions And A Possible Work-Around

There have been cases of the Army fully covering elective cosmetic surgeries, including breast augmentation. Over $363,000,000 was spent in bariatric surgery alone in a ten year period, and anonymous recruiters have claimed to offer one cosmetic surgery per enlistment. It was also revealed that it is possible to work around the Army’s official policy by citing medical reasons for an otherwise elective surgery—one woman was able to get breast enhancement surgery by claiming depression as a necessary reason.

If you’re considering joining the Army, make sure you understand the effects breast enhancement surgery will have on your physical and athletic capacity to fill the role of a recruit.