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If you are here reading this you are likely in the early stages of researching and reaching a decision on whether to have bariatric surgery or not. You are wondering about the risks, the benefits, side effects, how hard the new lifestyle will be and more. One of the most important things to consider is the cost of bariatric surgery. Whether you have a lap band, gastric sleeve, or gastric bypass the cost of surgery can be quite overwhelming so I am going to quickly outline the average cost for each and some different options for payment.
Weighing the Cost of Bariatric Surgery
*Let me preface the rest of this info by saying that I do not claim to be a doctor or a financial expert, just a momma who has been there trying to help you make sense of all the fancy medical lingo.
Lap Band (Gastric Banding) $14,500- This option is created by placing a band around the upper part of your stomach, which creates a smaller pouch. The band contains a balloon which can be filled or deflated by your doctor via filling the port that the insert at the same time. This restricts the amount of food you can eat.
Gastric Sleeve ( Sleeve Gastrectomy) $14,900 – Here about 80% of your stomach is cut completely away, the remaining is sewn back up to create a tube or sleeve. Your new sleeve cannot hold as much food and also releases less of the hunger-regulating hormone ghrelin which decreases your desire to eat.
Gastric Bypass (Roux-en-Y) $23,000– With this type of surgery a pouch is created at the top of the stomach, this pouch holds the food instead of your entire stomach making it highly uncomfortable to eat more than you should, the small intestine is then routed around to your new pouch. The digestive acid in your stomach is released farther along in your small intestine which means that fewer calories and also nutrition are absorbed since the food bypasses a portion of the small intestine.
Duodenal Switch $20,000- Somewhat similar to the gastric sleeve in that your surgeon will remove a large part of your stomach, the middle part of your intestine is closed off and the last part is attached to the duodenum. Food bypasses much of your small intestine and you are unable to eat as much due to your new stomach size.
How will you pay for bariatric surgery?
Insurance- Your best option is, of course, if your insurance will cover it. Most insurance companies do have requirements before they will approve any weight loss surgery. These will vary but some common requirements are – 6 months of supervised weight loss, comorbid conditions such as obstructive, apnea, GERD, or asthma, and a BMI of 40 or higher.
Paying for the surgery yourself means that you don’t have to meet any requirements of insurance, just whatever your doctor requires. The major downside to this option is that you are either digging into personal savings or paying interest on a personal loan or credit cards.
Savings/401k- If your insurance does not cover bariatric surgery another option for paying is to use your savings if you don’t have much in savings you can start saving a year or more in advance of your surgery or consider borrowing against your 401 k plan to finance it. At least this way you are not paying any interest and increasing the actual cost of your surgery.
Credit card/personal loan- I would avoid this if possible because the interest on this large of an amount would make the overall cost considerably higher. This is a, of course, a personal decision and you will need to weigh the final cost against the health benefits.