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Cost of Gastric Sleeve (Sleeve Gastrectomy) Surgery

OC Staff Gastric Sleeve, How Much?, Insurance and Costs

Results based on January, 2018 Survey

Costs can vary based on your location. Typically, the price of gastric sleeve surgery is slightly more than gastric band surgery and considerably less than gastric bypass surgery. Based on our 2015 survey, prices in the 10 most expensive states dropped almost 10% and the average price dropped almost 5% compared to last year. This is likely due to increased competition and demand for the surgery.

  • $9,000 to $27,000 is the pricing range across the country.
  • $15,400 is the most often quoted gastric sleeve price.
  • $16,800 (rounded up) is the average price for gastric sleeve surgery in the U.S.

The prices above are the ‘cash pay’ prices for gastric sleeve (sleeve gastrectomy) surgery. ‘Cash pay’ is what you will pay if you decide not to use insurance to cover the cost of your procedure and instead choose to pay cash (this includes credit cards, etc.). Surprisingly, this price is less than what the hospital would charge your insurance company. There are many reasons for this that go beyond the scope of this article.

Price Varies By State

Gastric sleeve prices can vary widely throughout the United States. States with high surgery volumes appear to have lower cash pay prices. Does this mean you should travel to another state to have your surgery? Not necessarily.

Prices for gastric sleeve surgery by state.

While the average gastric sleeve price may be higher in your state, this doesn’t mean every facility has a higher price. Getting pricing from a number of bariatric surgeons and/or facilities in and around your city is worthwhile.

You’ll need to visit your surgeon multiple times prior to surgery. And you’ll have multiple follow-up visits after surgery. Lifestyle changes are necessary to keep the weight off after gastric sleeve surgery. Changing life-long activity and eating habits is not easy. Most bariatric surgeons have many resources available to help make these permanent changes. These include support groups, a dietitian and possibly a counselor. Should you decide to have surgery outside of your state, you may not be able to take advantage of these resources.

States with the Lowest Gastric Sleeve Prices

1. Oklahoma – $9,800
2. Arkansas – $11,935
3. Nebraska – $12,300

States with the Highest Gastric Sleeve Prices

1. Massachusetts – $31,150
2. Idaho – $24,920
3. Wyoming – $22,250

Is A Lower Price Always Better?

There are a lot of considerations when choosing gastric sleeve surgery. Where will you have your surgery? Who will perform the surgery? And how much are you willing to pay? All of these questions play a role in your final decision to have gastric sleeve surgery. And cost is just one factor – not the only factor.

Gastric sleeve surgery is a major procedure and you do not want to sacrifice surgeon skill over price.

Does A Lower Price Mean My Surgeon Is Less Skilled?

A low price does not indicate your surgeon is less skilled than a higher priced surgeon. Many times the cost of the surgery is set by the hospital and the surgeon can choose to take advantage of that pricing or increase his/her price. Some surgeons prefer to offer their patients the lowest possible price because they feel this brings in more patients and the increased number of patients offsets any loss in price per case.

Because price does not have a direct relationship with surgeon skill, choose a surgeon that you’ll love first and consider price second.

Is Sleeve Gastrectomy Surgery Covered by Insurance?

Gastric Sleeve surgery has historically not been covered by insurance. It was covered if the surgery was part of a staged gastric bypass procedure for the super morbidly obese who could not handle extended surgery times without losing more weight. This was called a staged procedure. The surgeon would perform part of a gastric bypass or a duodenal switch surgery and then once the patient lost some weight and recovered, the surgeon planned on finishing the surgery. However, most patients lost enough weight after the first part of the procedure. And a second procedure was not necessary.

Surgeons started booking more patients as staged duodenal switch surgeries knowing that insurance would pay for the procedure. But they also knew that the patient would lose enough weight and not need a second procedure.

Due to an overwhelming amount of data that showed gastric sleeve surgery caused significant weight loss, more insurance companies have started covering gastric sleeves as a primary treatment for morbid obesity. In 2010, three of the major insurance carriers chose to cover sleeve gastrectomies as a primary bariatric procedure. Since then many other insurance companies are now covering gastric sleeve surgery. Check if your insurance carrier covers gastric sleeve surgery.

Consider Mexico

If you cannot afford bariatric surgery in the United States and you are not covered by insurance, surgery in Mexico is much cheaper. There are many considerations when choosing to have surgery in Mexico.

  • How do I know this is a reputable place?
  • What happens if I have a complication?
  • What kind of aftercare program do they offer?
  • Is the surgeon skilled?

There are many other questions that need to be answered before choosing to leave the United States for surgery. If you are considering bariatric surgery in Mexico, we recommend starting with an intermediary. These are companies that screen bariatric programs, answer your questions, and help you get started.

After Gastric Sleeve Surgery Costs

There are not many costs after gastric sleeve surgery. Unlike the Lap Band, you will not need regular adjustments from your surgeon to ensure the proper ‘tightness.’ Below are a few important points to keep in mind.

  • Nutritionist appointments are often out of pocket or negotiated before surgery. These can range from $50 USD per visit to over $100 per visit.
  • Compared to gastric bands, there is very little required follow-up with gastric sleeves and therefore lower costs.
  • Post surgery follow-up visits with your bariatric surgeon are typically free.
  • Complications can be extremely expensive. If the surgery is covered by insurance, then complications are typically covered as well. Treatment of wound site infections are typically paid for by the hospital or surgery center.

Other Costs To Consider

When you choose to have gastric sleeve surgery you should also choose to change your lifestyle. Do not expect to keep the same habits that you had before surgery and successfully lose weight. The costs below will probably increase after surgery.

  • Food costs will increase. Even though you will be eating less, you should be eating healthier and eating healthier usually costs more. Maximize every bite of food by choosing the healthiest options that give you the most energy.
  • Will you get a gym membership?
  • Nutritional supplements? Most surgeons recommend protein supplements after surgery. Quality protein supplements can cost $50/month or more.
  • New clothes. As you start shrinking you will want to buy new clothes. Most people are amazed at how fast the weight comes off after surgery. New clothes are essential. Show off your new self!
  • Cosmetic surgery? Some people choose to have cosmetic surgery to remove excess skin after surgery. This is something that can be considered down the road but you may want to start saving early if you feel this is something that you will may want to have done.

The Complete Patient’s Guide To Bariatric Surgery will review each procedure, its benefits, and why some people fail while others some succeed.


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