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How Weight Loss Surgery Can Change Your Life

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Paying for Weight Loss Surgery

Losing weight takes work. But when you have a lot of weight to lose, and if exercise and diet aren't enough, you may start thinking about weight loss surgery, also called bariatric surgery.

You'll probably have questions about how much it costs, what insurance covers, and how to convince your insurance to cover the bill. Here’s what you should know.

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What Happens During Weight Loss Surgery

Exactly what your surgeon will do when you get weight loss surgery depends on what type of surgery you're getting. Weight loss surgery works in three basic ways: Restricting how much food your stomach can hold at any time. This is "restrictive" weight loss surgery. Preventing your digestive system from absorbing all the nutrition in the food you eat. This is "malabsorptive" surgery. A combination of these two ways Here's what each procedure involves.

Read the What Happens During Weight Loss Surgery article > >

How Much Does It Cost?

Weight loss surgery is expensive. Typical costs can run from $20,000 to $25,000, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

The price of your weight loss surgery will depend on several factors:

  • The type of surgery you're having. Types of weight loss surgery include gastric bypass, adjustable gastric banding, vertical gastric banding (also called stomach stapling), sleeve gastrectomy, and biliopancreatic diversion. Each has a different fee.
  • Your surgeon's fee. This will vary based on where you live, your surgeon's expertise, and the procedure’s complexity.
  • The hospital you choose. Costs will vary and may include the operating and hospital rooms, among other fees.

Additional costs may include:

  • Anesthesiologist's fee
  • Surgical assistant's fee
  • Device fees
  • Consultant fees (if necessary)
  • Follow-up procedures (for the gastric band)

Will Health Insurance Pay?

If you have health insurance, read your policy carefully, and work closely with your insurer and your doctor to see what's covered.

Most insurance companies recognize that people who are overweight and obese are more likely to get serious health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence that bariatric surgery can improve or resolve up to 30 obesity-related conditions, according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

If you don’t have health insurance, you’ll likely have to pay the entire bill yourself. Some weight loss surgery centers can help you get a loan that you can repay over a number of years.

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