It is no secret that over the course of your life, the costs of obesity can add up. Every year more research shows just how expensive it can be to carry extra pounds. In everything from out-of-pocket medical costs to your bill at the grocery store, and even the fuel economy of our car, having a high Body Mass Index (or BMI) is going to cost you. This is one of the reasons weight loss surgeries and procedures are gaining popularity. Though it may sound expensive when you count the cost of surgery, it pales in comparison to the amount of money you could save over a lifetime.
A quick look online for the cost of weight loss surgery will tend to show you numbers between $15,000 and $25,000. This may be a good place to start your calculation, but you should not treat this number as if it were set in stone. The amount your surgery might cost, and the part of that cost you would be responsible for, can vary widely from one individual to the next. Depending on the type of surgery, the kind of insurance coverage, where your surgery takes place, follow-up appointments, complications that may arise, how other physicians such as your anesthesiologist bills for your surgery and much, much more, you could be out anywhere between a few hundred and tens of thousands of dollars.
What is Weight Loss Surgery?
There are many different types of surgeries that are grouped together under the heading of weight loss surgery. All of them have the same goal, but there are different risks, rewards, and costs for each. If you are seriously considering surgery for weight loss, it is important to know what your options are.
Gastric bypass, adjustable gastric banding, sleeve gastrectomy, vertical gastric banding (also called stomach stapling), and biliopancreatic diversion are some of the most common weight loss surgery types. Gastric bypass and adjustable gastric banding are two of the most common surgeries performed, though there can be many reasons your bariatric surgeon may suggest a different type of surgery. Cost is one factor in selecting a particular surgery, but there can be many different factors to the decision depending on your history of weight loss attempts, other health conditions, and factors that may play into your recovery and success down the road.
Weight loss surgery is often looked at as a last resort by prospective patients and many doctors. This does not mean, however, that surgery is a magic bullet. Though the size of your stomach may be forever changed at the end of a relatively short surgery, the changes to your lifestyle, and your wallet, will continue throughout your life.
Some of these long-term financial impacts are going to be positive ones. Many people who choose some form of weight loss surgery or bariatric procedure find that the savings in the smaller amount of food they eat can add up to thousands of dollars every year. This figure is dwarfed by the amount of money you could save by avoiding a prolonged fight against type 2 diabetes or heart disease, both of which are strongly correlated with severe obesity. Some estimates have put the amount of lifetime savings you could achieve just by eliminating the medical care needed to treat one of these conditions to be more than $50,000.
Losing weight is not just about aesthetics if your BMI is above 35. The list of potential health complications grows with your waistline, and the likelihood of these other health conditions affecting or even shortening your life only gets worse over time. A few of the diseases and health conditions associated with severe obesity are listed below:
- heart disease
- type 2 diabetes
- sleep apnea
- high blood pressure
- gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
How Much Does Weight Loss Surgery Cost?
As mentioned above, the base cost for weight loss surgery is going to depend on the type of surgery you have, but starting with an expectation the surgery will cost at least $15,000 to $25,000 is a good place to begin. This can sound like an eye-popping figure, and sadly it is usually not the full bill. Many people find after doing research ahead of time, or learning the hard way after surgery, that the full cost of consultations, office visits, the surgery itself, hospital stays, follow-up appointments, and the long-term need for nutritional supplements could bring the total cost of a gastric bypass surgery to quite a large sum.
Before you start to panic over the price, the first thing to consider for anyone thinking about some form of weight loss surgery is whether it is covered by your health insurance. Like anything in the world of health insurance, you are going to have to do some digging and read a lot of fine print to see if you are eligible for a particular surgery. Some insurance companies may cover weight loss surgery in specific plans, but every plan is different. Where you live can also factor into this decision. To list Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance plans in the Marketplace, some states require that plans cover weight loss surgery. This is not the case in all 50 states yet, so if you have insurance bought through the Marketplace, be sure to look up the rules in your state.
The Total Gastric Bypass Surgery Cost
For people who are lucky enough to have health insurance that covers a gastric sleeve or bariatric surgery, you will still likely need to jump through some hoops to make sure the surgery is covered. There may be requirements that you prove you have a history of attempts at medically recommended and supervised weight loss that has proven unsuccessful. Even if you do get the surgery covered, there are many associated costs that may not be.
Follow-up procedures and visits to maintain your health moving forward may not be covered, and could leave you facing very high costs. For example. cosmetic surgery is sometimes needed to remove excess skin if you lose a large amount of weight very quickly. Even if this surgery is deemed medically necessary by your doctor due to rashes or other issues caused by excess skin after significant weight loss, some insurance companies will still consider this an elective cosmetic procedure.
Finding the total price of a gastric bypass surgery can be a difficult thing. Average costs are easy to estimate, but knowing exactly what you will be responsible for when it comes to copays, out-of-pocket costs, facility charges and consultations from the various doctors, nutritionists, and other medical professionals is going to be challenging. Some bariatric surgeons take the approach of adding these costs together into one lump sum that patients are responsible for. This can be convenient from a planning perspective, but the costs are often significantly higher than lining up all these services yourself.
The total price of a gastric bypass surgery is not always summed up by the bills you get for the surgery you have long planned for. A number of patients who have surgery for weight loss often find they need to go under the knife again. This can be due to weight gain after surgery, scar tissue blocking the passage of food into the intestine, adjustments to the tension of the band if you had a gastric banding surgery, gallstones, and even internal herniation. These are not the only potential complications that could land you back in the hospital, but they are among the most common. Planning for and understanding the costs of your initial surgery can be difficult enough, but knowing how to prepare for these kinds of potential expenses can be daunting to say the least.
Alternatives to Bariatric Surgery
The high overall costs associated with gastric bypass surgery or lap band surgery is one of the reasons many people hesitate to undergo weight loss surgery. Thankfully, there are other alternatives that are not only cheaper, but have fewer complications down the road.
At NEW You Weight Loss, we understand the complications and costs associated with gastric bypass and other weight loss surgeries. That is why we offer non-surgical procedures that can help you achieve your weight loss goals without some of the cost and potential complications of gastric bypass surgery. These bariatric procedures are not just an alternative if a gastric bypass is too expensive, but are a compelling option to consider if you are contemplating weight loss surgery.
ORBERA® helps you feel full more quickly without the cost of gastric bypass. Just like gastric bypass, ORBERA® results in a smaller volume available in your stomach by filling some of the empty space in your stomach so you feel full faster. ORBERA® does not require full anesthesia, but has a similar outcome to gastric bypass results.
Gastric bypass results in a significant reduction in stomach volume, but the AspireAssist works in a different way entirely. By connecting a small tube between the stomach and a port on the skin, you can remove a portion of the food you have eaten after a meal. The AspireAssist does not carry one of the most common risks of gastric bypass surgery—complications of continued overeating. You can continue to eat a customary amount of food, and simply remove with a small pump afterward. You can begin losing weight without the burden of the diet and lifestyle changes necessary with gastric banding or a gastric sleeve.
ESG – Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty
Like gastric bypass, Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty results in the volume of your stomach being significantly smaller after surgery. This procedure is a non-surgical option available to some people who might not be good candidates for more invasive surgery.
Bariatric revision is sometimes an unavoidable procedure when weight gain occurs after gastric bypass. Overeating can leave the stomach prone to growing larger, which can lead to very serious health problems in addition to reducing the effectiveness of the original surgery.
Whatever path you choose on your way to your forever figure, it is important to know that you have options available to you. Getting over the financial hurdles can be overwhelming for some people, and if you are in a position where health insurance is not going to assist in paying for surgery, you may need to look for other alternatives.
At NEW You Weight Loss, we know it can be confusing to sort out the right path. That is why we are committed to doing everything we can to offer you the best choices to achieve your goals, and to help you with the advice and direction you need to make the right call. No matter where you are on your journey, from just getting started thinking about weight loss surgery or facing a bariatric revision after your initial surgery did not produce the lasting results you hoped, we are here for you. Request a consultation today to see what NEW You can do for you.