Frequently Asked Questions About Weight Loss Surgery
What Is the Cost of Weight Loss Surgery? Will Insurance Cover It?
A typical weight loss surgery can run from $20,000 to $35,000 -- so insurance coverage is critical for most people. Every insurance company is different, but before agreeing to cover the surgery, most insurance companies want documentation of the patient's struggle with obesity. They want a primary care doctor's records indicating that the patient has tried to lose weight through diet, exercise, and psychological counseling -- for at least five years. Also, medical causes of obesity must be ruled out. It pays to ensure that your doctor documents your efforts early on, so surgery is an option later.
How Do I Find a Bariatric Surgeon?
Clearly, you want a bariatric surgeon who is very experienced in this specialty area. Research shows that the more experienced the surgeon, the lower the risk of death or complications during or after the surgery.
To identify an excellent surgeon, collect a list of names. Ask friends and family members. Ask coworkers. You might be surprised -- lots of people often know others who have had weight loss surgery and want to share their doctor's name.
Check into centers and hospitals offering educational seminars for people considering weight loss surgery. You can learn more about the actual procedure, the benefits and the risks. You may also get names of specialists who perform these surgeries. Go to these seminars and ask questions.
Here are some questions to consider when choosing a bariatric surgeon:
- Is the specialist board certified by the American Board of Surgery?
- Is the specialist a member of the American Society of Bariatric Surgeons?
- How many weight loss surgeries has the surgeon performed? (100 or more is ideal.)
- How many of the surgeon’s patients have died from weight loss surgery? (Less than 1% is the average.)
- How often do patients have complications? What side effects are most common?
- What is the surgeon's success rate?
Don't rush into weight loss surgery. Most people take two years to think about it. Talk to family and friends. Talk to surgeons and to people at the hospital centers. Prepare yourself mentally and physically. Make sure you are committed to changing your lifestyle and to keeping the weight off forever.