June 12, 2014
What is your recommendation for the proper CPT-4 coding for microdermabrasion? Many of my colleagues use the codes for dermabrasion (15780-15783). I have also seen unlisted codes used (17999, 96999). Thank you.
There is not a specific CPT code for “microdermabrasion” because generally this is considered a cosmetic procedure and not billed to insurance. A CPT Assistant from December 2003 states: “Code 15783 is for “superficial” abrasion and uses the example of tattoo removal. However, tattoo pigment is embedded in the dermis and abrasion treatment of tattoo abrades into the dermis and always causes bleeding. Microdermabrasion treatment is not an epidermal procedure, nor is there an existing code that describes epidermal abrasions. The depth of injury for microdermabrasion to the epidermis is more like that of a superficial chemical peel, such as a glycolic acid peel. Therefore, the appropriate code to report for microdermabrasion is code 17999, Unlisted procedure, skin, mucous membrane and subcutaneous tissue.”
We concur with the advice to use an unlisted code if you have medical necessity and the service will be billed to insurance. But be sure to obtain written prior authorization from the payor because, as previously mentioned, it’s generally considered a cosmetic procedure.