Cost of LAP-BAND® Surgery


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 13, 2018

The LAP-BAND® system is an FDA-approved, adjustable gastric band used in the LAP-BAND® procedure.

A silicone-like belt that wraps around the upper portion of your stomach, your stomach will shrink to the size of a golf ball after the procedure completes, only allowing you to hold an ounce of food.  As a result, you will lose most of your appetite, feel full quicker and will lose weight as time goes on.

As the system is adjustable, it will be connected to a port connected beneath the skin that can be inflated with saline to either tighten or expedite weight loss.  The saline solution can be removed to loosen the band in the case side effects are felt.

Cost of LAP-BAND® Surgery
IMG_9946” (CC BY 2.0) by Chris R McFarland

The average cost of LAP-BAND® surgery

The cost of LAP-BAND® will depend on a variety of factors, including your geographical location, the surgeon you choose, insurance coverage and the facility.

From our research via multiple people who did post the quotes they received online, the costs for a straightforward procedure seemed to range anywhere from $9,000 to more than $30,000 without insurance, with the geographical region playing a large role in the pricing.  Also, those who either had their insurance pick up a portion of the costs or even those who paid in cash tended to pay up to 20 to 30 percent less than those who had to set up financing via a third-party or the office they were working with.

Other costs, as we get into below in our “additional costs to consider subpage” can add to the total mentioned above.

Private insurance coverage can be a tricky area, but there are reports your insurance company may cover the procedure if you meet the requirements as per your policy details.  In general, most health insurance companies require at least two comorbidities and a BMI of 35 or greater to be a candidate for the insurance company to cover the procedure.  As all policies greatly vary, talk with your insurance provider to know the details to see how you can potentially be covered.

On this ObesityCoverage.com map, for example, their research indicated that Oklahoma, Texas, and Nebraska were the cheapest states to have the LAP-BAND® procedure done, with the average less than $11,000, whereas the highest priced states, Minnesota, New Mexico and Minnesota, all charged an average of more than $18,500.

Bariatric-surgery-source.com notes the average cost of the surgery is close to $3,500 with insurance or about $15,000 without.  The costs, as noted by the website, states the out-of-pocket costs will depend on the chosen hospital, insurance plan, discounts, financing and tax savings.

The official LAP-BAND® website notes the system can generally cost anywhere from $8,000 to $18,000.

What’s included in the estimates?

All hospitals/facilities will vary with its billing policy, but from most of the quotes we did see, it should include the hospital fees, surgeon fees, surgical assistant fees, anesthesia fees, operating room fees as well as the device fees.  However, this is not guaranteed, as, again, this will vary.  To be certain, talk with the facility’s billing department ahead of time to know what you will be responsible for, even after you pay the surgery fees.

The additional costs to consider

Nutritionist appointments:  For most, a new diet can be quite the challenge, and for that reason, multiple nutritionist appointments, costing about $50 to $100 each, will be necessary to get you on the right track to eating healthy and keeping the pounds off.

Health clearance:  A psychologist and/or cardiologist appointment may be required for a mental health and heart health clearance.

Lab work:  As with most surgical procedures, the lab work, prior to the procedure, needs to be considered as well.  This can include blood work, an echocardiogram and/or x-ray fees.

Adjustment appointments or fills:  The average LAP-BAND® fill, if not covered by your insurance company, can cost anywhere from $75 to $350 per fill visit, but this fee can often be part of a package before the surgery or even negotiated by some if you purchase more than one session at once.  About six weeks after the surgery, usually about the time your stomach fully heals, your surgeon will want you to come in to adjust your fills to get over your weight loss plateau.

Follow-up visits:  While most surgeons will offer a follow-up visit for free, as part of the surgery package, generally, there are some doctors who may charge for the visit.  For this reason, it’s important to know what you’re getting for your fee when setting up your surgery appointment.

Complications:  No surgery is perfect, and as long as you’re going under the knife, complications can occur.  Even though complications are rare during the procedure, the costs of one, if it were to arise, can be quite costly.

Lifestyle changes:  To be successful with the surgery, even after its performed, you will need to make the necessary lifestyle and diet changes.  Remember, this procedure is designed to be life-changing, not a life-saving procedure.  With all of this being said, a healthier diet, depending on how you ate before, could cost you more, while a gym member, often recommended by doctors after the procedure, could be an additional $10 to $75 per month.

Newer clothes:  As you can imagine, you will drop quite a few pounds after the procedure, meaning you will need to purchase an entirely new wardrobe, and unless you have these clothes laying around, there’s going to be a good chance you will have to go on a shopping spree to purchase this new wardrobe.  Depending on your style, preferences and what you plan on purchasing, a new wardrobe, as you can imagine, can cost you hundreds of dollars.

Plastic surgery:  Due to the excessive sagging skin, additional plastic surgery may be needed to achieve the look you desire.

The procedure

Typically done in an outpatient or hospital setting, the entire procedure, from start to finish, will take about 60 to 90 minutes.

While under a general anesthesia, the LAP-BAND® surgery is often performed laparoscopically, which means the surgeon will create up to five small incisions as opposed to a larger single incision (open surgery).  During this procedure, a small viewing tube, with a camera on its end, will be inserted into the small incision to guide the LAP-BAND® as its wrapped around the upper portion of the stomach.  As the LAP-BAND® is locked into place, the rest of the stomach will stay in its natural position and the port will be inserted into the abdominal wall.

As time goes on, as mentioned in the introduction, the LAP-BAND® can be loosened or even tightened via this port by either filling or emptying the solution, a process referred to as a fill.  For the first six weeks, according to yourbariatricsurgeryguide.com, the port is left empty.

Who is considered a candidate?

The surgery isn’t considered a magic pill, but instead, an option for those who are not seeing luck with the proper diet and exercise.  According to the National Institutes of Health, a candidate will have a body mass index greater than 40, which equates to 80 pounds overweight for females and close to 100 pounds overweight for males.

Aside from the BMI, those who suffer from diabetes, high cholesterol levels and/or high blood pressure, as well as have a BMI greater than 30, you may be considered a candidate as well.

In some cases, the LAP-BAND® surgery may be considered an option for those who may be at a higher risk for the more invasive gastric bypass surgical options.

In the end, not everyone is considered a candidate as people who have an inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract and/or severe heart or lung disease, for instance, may not a candidate.  Those who are also pregnant will not be considered as well until the pregnancy is complete.

Tips to know

Results will not be seen overnight, with the average person seeing about one to three pounds lost per week for the first year.  This, eventually, will slow down around 12 to 18 months after the surgery was performed.  On average, the average patient will see about 40 percent of their excess weight lost in the first year and 55 percent of their excess weight lost in the second year, and during this time, if you reached a plateau, your surgeon may consider the fill.

Risks and complications may include death, organ damage, circulatory damage, wound rupture, band deflation, slippage, band erosion, stomach pouch enlargement, eating-related problems, stomach irritation and other complications, to name a few.


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