Cost of Lap Band Surgery
The two types of laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding procedures approved for use in the United States, the LAP-BAND and REALIZE Band, cost an average of $17,000. The amount will vary on an individual basis and there is not one “right” price to pay for the procedure which can be affected by a variety of factors.
The factors affecting the total price of gastric banding include:
- Choice of surgeon
- Geographic location
- Medical facility
- Fees included (or not) in program
Bariatric Surgeon Fees
The doctor you choose to perform gastric band surgery can affect both the price and outcome. A bariatric surgeon’s fee is often determined by the level of skill, training, experience in general surgery, bariatric techniques, and specific bariatric procedures. Bariatric surgeons with more skill, training, and experience may cost more than those with less, but they also increase your chances of higher quality care and less surgical complications. When comparing bariatric surgeons, it is important to consider their credentials, experience, and patient results as well as the cost.
The surgeon’s fee, hospital charges, and associated surgery fees can vary between geographical regions, thus affecting the overall cost of surgery. It usually costs more in a big city, such as New York or Los Angeles, than in a rural area.
The bariatric program fees will vary based on whether or not the medical facility is a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence (BSCOE). In order for a medical facility to be designated a Center of Excellence, it must meet acceptable standards of quality and patient safety. This requires a certain level of funding to purchase the equipment and employ the medical personnel that are necessary to achieve and maintain these standards. A Center of Excellence may cost more than a medical facility that does not meet these standards, but trading safety for cost is not an acceptable risk. Make sure your gastric band surgery is performed in a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence.
Fees Included (Or Not Included)
When comparing bariatric program, it is important to consider more than just the quoted price. It is necessary to compare the fees and services that are included (or not included) in the bariatric package.
Fees to consider with gastric banding:
- Surgeon fees
- Hospital charges and associated surgery fees
- Anesthesiologist fees
- Radiologist fees
- Pre-Op lab work and psychological testing
- Follow-up medical visits
- Fills and adjustments
- Aftercare, including exercise program, behavioral health, diet counseling
- Travel expenses
When you are given a price by the bariatric surgeon, ask if the price list is complete or if there are other expenses that will be billed separately, such as pre-op testing, fills, and aftercare support.
Cost of Fills and Adjustments
Fills and adjustments are an important aspect of aftercare with a gastric band. During the first two to three years after surgery, patients will get an average of 5 to 8 fills. Annual fills may be needed on a regular basis thereafter for maintenance. Many bariatric programs include a schedule of gastric band fills in the package price, but this varies from surgeon to surgeon. When billed separately, gastric band fills average $100 to $300 for patients, but can cost much more for non-patients.
Cost of Gastric Banding in Mexico
Traveling to Mexico for gastric banding is a popular option for many individuals who do not have insurance and want to take advantage of the lower prices offered by out-of-country bariatric providers. The average cost of gastric banding in Mexico is $8,000 to $10,000. When comparing costs, however, it is important to consider other expenses as well, including the cost of pre-op tests, fills, aftercare, travel time, and travel expenses.
Insurance vs. Cash Pay
When you consult with a bariatric surgeon, the discussion of cost will involve whether or not you have health insurance to cover the procedure or will be a cash pay customer. The price submitted to the insurance company is usually greater than the price quoted to cash pay customers. If you are a cash pay customer, which includes medical financing, and will not be submitting the charges to insurance, let your bariatric surgeon know that you are interested in a cash pay price quote.